to date with all NTS related issues. Every couple of weeks I hold a meeting with Alexander Albler, where we exchange views. Anyhow, I am also always putting out my feelers, but less toward product development as I am too much removed from the technical topic and, moreover, NTS has its own dedicated department for it. Yet, during all the travels I simply observe movements and trends that will eventually have an influence on the economic development of Europe and thus on NTS. It is needless to say that I share these observationswith Alexander Albler.” Not many people know that he was responsible for the construction of the current NTS building. It stands to reason that he was also responsible for executing the extensions of the building for the NTS headquarters. But howdid one arrive at the decision to take the demanding, expensive step of a newbuilding compared to just simply going to some other location? “Youdon’t become a cosmopolitan,youcan only shake off your shackles”, a clever personwas oncequoted. HermannKoller definitelyshook off his shackles, if he had ever worn them. Some years ago, the manwith the eye for important things packed his bags and left the operational business of NTS to move the center of his life to Los Angeles, California. The world became a small place for the co-founder of NTS as he commutes four times a year between Europe and the US. Furthermore, he mentions occasional detours toNewZealand or to Brazil just as he would have to make a choice between theVienna opera, aTyrolean Mountain summit or a city square in Graz. It is just part of the bigger picture whenhehas tobrieflyreflect inwhich state of the US the NTS office is currently situated (it is inArizona). However, the native Carinthian does not want to leave behind the “Island of the Blessed” as you could call Austria due to its social security system. He still frequents his home turf for private andNTS reasons. Howdoes the NTS everyday life look for someone that brought a company fromzero to an imposing size during a period of a quarter of a century? I have many points of contact and I am of course available for everything that is important for NTS over there. However, I don’t have any official, documented function. In the meantime, I hardly attend manufacturers conferences – in the past this was something I did several times per year. Nevertheless, I am trying to keep up This had very rational reasons. The last open plot, where a larger extension was possible, was available here. The question came up if we should add another building stage as we required space and there was a change in the building lawback then. Aswe have been here in Grambach for 22 years andhave alwaysmoved, several times, into larger offices, we decided at some stage: Yes, we still want to have ONE building, which is purposelybuiltONLYforNTS–all the other ones were always heterogenous buildings with other tenants as well. This one was now built for NTS only. The first brainstorming session for this project started already in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, we built a provisional parking space as we were alreadyguessing that this iswherewe wanted to build.We decided relatively earlythat it should integrate all experiences of thepast decades,visuallyand functionally.” Onemust not forget thatHermannKoller is actually a graduated technical physicist. Later he also completed his studies inControlling and Finance at the Vienna University of Economics. Both studies generated a mindset that not only helped him to direct construction sites but also to run a business like NTS. Even more, his education bestowed on him the ability for interdisciplinary thinking aswell as to cultivate problem solving as a part of his real-life skill set. “Corona** could have caught us big time, but we were more than lucky during the construction here. At the beginning of INTERVIEW CALLING SHORT DISTANCE: BACK TO THE NTS FUTURE Cruising through L.A. in his DeLorean – Hermann Koller interrupted this fulfilled dream so that he could answer (less) questions about the construction of the new NTS headquarters in Grambach near Graz and say (more) about what is still connecting him to NTS and what it entails to solve problems. Words by: Harald Müller Photo by: NTS » YOU BECOME MORE RESILIENT, WITH THE MORE TASKS YOU’VE HAD DURING YOUR LIFETIME. « March 2020 (note: first lockdown started mid-March 2020), the local authority issued the construction permit, all orders were placed already and a part of them were delivered very quickly. Thus, we started immediately. We finished on schedule at the end of the year, in December 2020 – and this without any cost increases! This is unbelievable looking at it now, even today, due to all the delays caused by the lockdowns for steel and timber deliveries not forgetting quarantined workers, and, and, and.” Howhave you coped during the recent decades with the constantly increasing space requirement since the company has had such tremendous growth rates? “Being an entrepreneur, you deal with issues that are not, or hardly, apparent for the employees. In general, it was always the case that in the course of the history of NTSwe alwaysmade some smallmodifications every two or three years to somehow have more space for people. Actually, in order to accommodate more employees, once again, it was always like that, that the generous availability of office space was slightly reduced every couple of years. Even now, the new building is filled well, but there should still be some spare workspaces available.” Koller is looking out of the window, and he contemplates if he should state the following: “One alsohas to say, that the home office situation thatwas caused by the pandemic has changed a lot regarding the operation of office buildings and as a result, the space situation is relaxing a little bit. The rooms are not empty, not even close, but it is likely that because of it, this familiar office growth has slowed down a little bit and in future youwill have to assume that a part of the employees will utilize office spaces only in turns. I may note in passing that you can naturally blow your own trumpet when working in a property that you own as the rooms were almost empty during the lockdown and it would of course not be very attractive from an economical standpoint topayrent and associated costs for them.” Do you knowall the tricks regarding problemsolvingwhen you are managing a business like NTS? “I was in the US when the pandemic started and now and again, I really was afraid that there would be problems during the construction – I mean that you are placing orders for millions, and I did not know whether everything would crash as initially nobody knew what was happening. I only returned back at the end of April 2020 and at least everythingworked outwith the construction.” Mentioning “at least” in conversations like this, always animates one to want to askmore. What kept Koller going (whose home was on two continents during a pandemic)? “We were not allowed back until June 2021. This was certainly challenging as I started an Art & Design business over there together with mywife. All was rented and the grand opening of the studio was planned for the end of March 2020. And thenwe could simplynot do anything for almost one and a half years. These plans eventuallywent down the drain, and we had to leave it all up to fate. Up until today I am trying to get this going again.” During the conversationwewere always hitting a major topic: problem solving as priceless ability. Koller agrees quite embarrassed: “Well, at some point you have to learn how to deal with this. You become more resilientwhenyou’ve had tomanage somany tasks over the years. Thereby, you also have to learn that you should not take everything to heart or to not panic. Back in 2020, I had two problems: I was putting millions into a construction project in Europe, and I did not knowif it could be built or if it would eventually be used. On the other side, I had a private project in theUS, I established a company that was also not needed. Once I came back to Austria to complete the construction, for one and a half years Iwas not able to return to theUS to take care of my business there. Thiswas veryeducational as it influences the thinking for the future.” What was the Koller “Relax,We Care” moment? “You are facing the problemand you are trying to solve it. We tried to pull all the stops. That’s howyou solve problems. If it is going well then it is one step after the other, when it is not going well, then it is one attempt of a solution after the other. To attempt cocky tricks is ultimately always the path that createsmore problems. When you realize this, then you can’t blame yourself.” **Note: We did not want to include the Corona pandemic in RELAX. However, with the same enjoyment as Helmut Schmidt who used to smoke on live television, Hermann Koller assumed the right for himself to tell us about some pandemic connections. NAME: Hermann Koller BIRTH DATE: September 4th, 1965 DOMICILE: Vienna POSITION: Founder and Owner EDUCATION: Dipl.-Ing. Technical Physics at Graz Technical University, MBA Controlling and Finance at the Vienna University of Economics 11 10