Aleš Zemánek - founder and CEO of AZUB

Honza Galla

SALES AND MARKETING MANAGER SINCE 2005

Honza first met Aleš in 2002 and their common goal was to build a tandem recumbent Honza wanted to use for his expeditions. The prototype of today’s AZUB TWIN saw the light of day in the spring of 2004. When a year later Honza visited the SPEZI fair in Germany with Aleš, he was bowled over when he saw how passionate Aleš was about recumbents and by the whole atmosphere of the recumbent world. And this excitement is still there today. Before Honza even completed his sports management studies, he and Aleš had agreed to cooperate and in the autumn of 2005, Honza joined the company as the third member of the team. He began to take care of marketing and soon after, he also launched sales abroad.

It is therefore no surprise that Honza likes modern trends both in marketing and technology. It is from his keyboard the vast majority of texts on individual products, blog posts, articles for magazines and the website are born. He is also a keen contributor of articles for the Cykloturistika magazine and his primary aim is to spread the news about some great, although in Czech somewhat unknown, cycling ideas.

Honza’s biggest hobby is cyclotourism, though recently, his time has been more and more taken up by two little people, Julie (2012) and Jan (2015). Honza and his recumbent bike have visited most European countries and there were also expeditions to Israel, India and China. In 2013, he and another AZUB team member, Karel Šebela, took part in the solar race from France to Kazakhstan. The 7800 km journey took them 46 days. They reached Astana as the first team and in the overall score, they came fourth. You can read more about Honza’s travels at www.galla.cz.

Honza’s bike: AZUB Mini, Tern Verge P10 and Tern Cargo Node

What exactly do you do in AZUB?
I started in 2005 as a general dogsbody with a focus on marketing and international sales. Today, I kind of head the both the marketing and the sales department and strive to spread the word about Czech recumbents and about the quality of Czech handiwork around the world. My colleague Milan takes the mickey out of me and calls me the “senior” manager (I am 35).

How did you come to work here?
In 2001, I and my cousin Evina went on an almost 7000 km long trip on an upright tandem. The journey took us from Ostrava to the Arctic Circle and back. In Poland, we met a Dutchman called Sjaak who was on a recumbent and he travelled with us for 20 days, all the way to Finland. Looking at him pedalling away all snug and comfortable while we were hunching over on our classic bike made my mind spin into overdrive. I had already dreamed up my ideal recumbent tandem during the journey. Later on in the same year, I contacted Aleš and in 2004, I and my then girlfriend-turned-wife Eliška set off on our first recumbent tandem expedition. And in 2005, when I went with Aleš to the SPEZI fair in Germany to try out some rival recumbent tandems, I told Aleš that I would love to work for him. He agreed and so here I am. I have been here since October 15, 2005.

 What made the prospect of working in AZUB attractive for you?
The company team which at the time consisted of Aleš, his brother Laďa and Laďa Bláha, their right hand man, managed to create a wonderful atmosphere. The desire to achieve and to make their way in the world simply exuded from every little pore, today we would call it a start-up, that kind of enthusiasm and excitement was just everywhere you turned. For me, there was a great pull and a desire to be a part of such a thriving and so different an environment. Different, though still all about cycling. Today I am living my dream, the dream I had at the time, the dream of one day we would conquer the world. I fly to do business with our dealers to the USA, Japan or Korea and I still I kind of cannot believe it. It is just awesome!

What do you enjoy most about your work?
Meeting people. People I get to see every day at work, people I meet at fairs or when visiting our dealers. Each of them is different though they have one thing in common, their love for bicycles, recumbents and trikes. Customers, traders, mechanics, reporters, organizers, wives, husbands, friends and relatives – you are great! Thank you for being here!

And what do you really hate?
Packing up after a fair. I never know where to start, who to help first, who to join. Especially in recent years, when at the end of the fair, I usually sell our exhibits or ensure they are delivered to various magazines for testing, while the boys work their pants off taking apart our stand and everybody knows exactly what to do. And then conflicts – I hate them. I try to do everything I can to prevent them, both amongst colleagues and with regard to our customers or suppliers. In my world there is no place for unpleasant feelings associated with AZUB.

Do you remember your first encounter with a recumbent bike?
I think I first read about them a long time ago in an issue of ABC magazine for young readers. There was a brief mention of a certain accountant somewhere from the West, who worked for six months on tax returns and spent the rest of the year travelling around the world on a bike. And he had a really weird bike, which I now think must have been a recumbent. That was around 1992. Then, four years later, I saw a LWB type recumbent locked outside a pub somewhere, and in 2001 it was Sjaak’s bike in Poland. But I did not try it out then, because Sjaak was too big and the bike was not adjustable. So the first recumbent bike I actually did ride was from AZUB.

Which AZUB model do you like the best and why?
For a long time I used the AZUB MAX with USS. However, today I have the AZUB MINI with ASS. It is a nimble, compact, functional and practical bike which I built in such a way that I would be able to get to work quickly but also to connect a child trailer for two kids, load it with everything I need and set off for some steep hills and forest trails. From tricycles it is, of course, the AZUB Ti-FLY – an absolutely wonderful technical marvel, the embodiment of our skill and capabilities.

When you are not in AZUB, what do you do?
I play with the kiddies and take care of them… while thinking of AZUB. I do try to separate the two, but sometimes it is really hard.

 Which bike do you use the most?
I am more of an intermittent rider and my bike of choice is the AZUB of MINI and also the Tern folding bike. Now I am very much looking forward to tinkering with the Tern Cargo Node to adapt in for transporting two children and taking them around the town at every opportunity.

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