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This Construction Company Tackled The Gender Employment Gap and Went 95% Virtual

Avi Kahn of Hilti

And they did it all during the pandemic.

Avi Kahn of Hilti and Polly Sumner of Salesforce | Leading Through Change

“Never waste a good crisis,” said Avi Kahn, executive board member for Hilti, a family-run construction automation solutions company that helps power building projects around the world. Just as COVID-19 was upending business everywhere, Hilti decided to accelerate their operations by rolling out Salesforce to help them digitize the majority of their communications. The endgame? Enabling their employees to stay connected to clients, visit job sites, and collaborate in a world that went remote overnight. A two-year process of software rollout happened in just six months, spanning 32 countries and 9,000 users. 

Below, you’ll find some key takeaways from our recent live chat with Kahn along with some fun facts about him and Hilti. We’ll also walk you through the specific Salesforce tools Hilti uses to power its success. And you can click on the link to the recording of our conversation if you’d like to dive deeper. 

Without further ado: 

Facts about Avi Kahn

  • He started at Hilti in 2004 with an entry-level position, then rose through the ranks to his current leadership role.
  • In 2019, the Plano, Texas Chamber of Commerce named Avi Kahn Business Executive of the Year.
  • Avi Kahn has two children with his wife Maryann: Ethan and Adam.

Facts about Hilti

  • Hilti’s global workforce totals 29,000.
  • Hilti’s social responsibility arm, The Hilti Foundation, focuses on affordable housing, community development, culture/science/education, disaster relief, professional training/education, and social entrepreneurship.
  • The company was founded in 1941 in Schaan, Liechtenstein.

Salesforce tools in Hilti’s spotlight

  • Products used: Sales Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Salesforce Maps, and Einstein Analytics/Tableau CRM
  • Marketing Cloud creates personalized one-to-one messages to reach customers wherever they are – on the job site or working from home. Using data and flexible communications, sales reps continue nurturing relationships and building up future opportunities.
  • With Sales Cloud, the sales team has access to a complete 360-degree view of the customer profile, including their purchase history, to better anticipate customer needs and determine where they are in the stage of a project. Rather than just sporadic sales calls, Sales Cloud also helps Hilti connect at the precise moment when their products and services would be most useful.
  • Salesforce Maps has been a huge asset to Hilti out in the field. This routing tool helps them logically plan visits to construction sites and in-person meetings. They save time and travel by planning the day ahead of time.

Top three takeaways from the episode

  • When COVID-19 hit in March, Hilti used that time of change to roll out Project Evolution – meaning a 95% digitization of their sales systems and customer communications in 10 regions around the world. What was meant to be a two-year process happened in just six months.
  • Digital transformation is not “one and done.” Change management and behavior management across the company’s 30,000 employees has been a huge factor in increasing lead speed for his sales team.
  • Avi notes that it’s unusual to see a call for diversity – particularly gender diversity – in construction, but this is a huge initiative for Hilti. Senior management is almost always promoted from within, and while they’re not gender blind, they are “gender gray.” Hilti changed its product line and invests in talent to promote more women into leadership positions from within.

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This post is the latest installment of Leading Through Change, our video conversation series with industry and thought leaders who use Salesforce products to transform the way they work.

Karen Solomon Senior Blog Editor

Karen Solomon is the senior editor for the Salesforce Blog, where she brings a wealth of experience as a writer, content strategist, and storyteller. In addition to writing four cookbooks and a travel book, she’s worked for Bank of America, Autodesk, Williams-Sonoma, Donnelly Marketing, and Under Armour. She’s also authored numerous feature stories for national press.

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