How Wanzl conquered Hong Kong Airport with an endurance run

Wanzl stories (part 6)

In 1998, there were plans to replace Hong Kong International Airport. In the course of this construction project, a tender was put out for equipping all of the terminals with mobile luggage trolleys, and this represented a huge opportunity for Wanzl to establish a greater foothold in Asia. Wanzl obtained an appointment with the airport planners to introduce its products and services and, following the principle of “trust no-one’s hands but your own”, Gottfried Wanzl decided to take a prototype of the luggage trolley with him on the journey as oversized luggage. No sooner said than done: he and his head of sales checked in the extremely heavy luggage at the check-in desk, as the service staff looked on with disbelief. On arrival in Hong Kong, they were unable to quickly find a taxi large enough to accommodate the luggage trolley, and so they had to make the journey to the terminal for the ferry to Hong Kong island on foot – in temperatures of 42°C in the shade and humidity of almost 100%!

The model had withstood the journey well to this point and, with sweat on their collective brow, the Wanzl team stood watch over the prototype on the ferry. But no one could have known that there was a much more dramatic baptism of fire on the horizon. Because Wanzl and his colleague, in their hurry, had unfortunately boarded the wrong ferry and were heading very much in the wrong direction – and it was nearly time for the appointment! “Forget a taxi – we will have to run!” Two men in business suits, pushing a luggage trolley, ran along bumpy roads and paths, past traders, pets enjoying the open air and busy people. Out of breath and bathed in sweat, the pair of runners reached their destination on time. Relieved, they pushed the luggage trolley into the conference room. The rolling trolley, pushed by the junior boss, made a lasting impression: two years after the appointment, Wanzl received an order for 9,000 luggage trolleys for the new Hong Kong Airport, which today is the largest freight and eighth-largest passenger airport in the world.