“There’s definitely a lot to look forward to”
Text: Martina Hošková and M. Zisso; Photo: Archive
We met the co-owners of the Cobra family company, Cornel Boda and his daughter Kristina Boda, for a joint interview about themselves, running the family business together, and their field of expertise – doors. The moment in the interview that might bring a smile to the faces of many is Kristina talking about herself 10 years from now, saying “I see myself in the company, maybe with a little successor of my own”. This is yet to be disclosed. For the time being, we can only inform you about the birth of Cobra, which was back in 1991.
Cornel, you come from Romania. How did you build the largest supplier of door hardware in the Czech Republic?
I was born in Bucharest, Romania, and grew up there. After I finished the compulsory military training, I applied to university and was enjoying my younger years.
I met a girl from the Czech Republic and we got married, that’s how I ended up here. I didn’t forget where I came from, either. The truth is, in the beginning, I didn’t have much contact with Romania, but then I started seeing my sister there and we reunited. I began thinking about starting a business there as well, so I expanded Cobra to Romania. I opened a real estate business there, which blossomed into the construction of a new modern apartment building, right in the downtown area.
Kristina, how did the story go for you? How did you join your family business?
Well, my parents wanted to give me the best possible education, so I studied at an English College here in Czechia right until I graduated, and then did my bachelor’s degree in London. However, since I was always around Cobra from my early childhood, I knew I wanted to continue the legacy. You see, for me, it was absolutely obvious I would return to Prague and work here.
Can you tell us more about “door hardware”, and your clients?
Our biggest clients would be door manufacturers, because that’s who will offer you our door handle the moment you choose this element for your future apartment. We also sell to door and kitchen design studios etc., where people also come to choose their doors and handles for a new apartment or a reconstruction. Last but not least, our great clients are the DIY hobby markets. Altogether, we have customers from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Austria, and Croatia.
How should we go on about choosing the right door hardware? What are your expert tips?
Good question. Door hardware is a part of everyday life, and therefore it is necessary to pay adequate attention to its purchase. Both design and finishing play a big role in the final choice, however, there is an abundance of shapes, types, and combinations of fittings on the market. What you need to do is to choose a type that matches the interior design and expected use. What matters is timing. It often happens that you want to choose something too late because the items were already chosen by someone else, and you can’t decide on anything different.
What are your hottest products right now? And what can we expect in the future?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched a collection of premium Q handles – Ultima, Spectra, and Infinity. In cooperation with the renowned designer Petr Novague, we developed handles that are modern, elegant, timeless, and solid. And what is most important – they are user- friendly and fantastically ergonomic. The entire collection has won the world’s most important design awards, including the Red Dot, which we are really proud of.
As of now, we are working on adding more products to this line, such as pull handles and fixtures for sliding doors. We are also working on a new variation of security- focused, easy lock handles. There is definitely a lot to look forward to!
Are you going to expand to new fields? Security systems, smart locks…
For that kind of security system and smart locks, you need to have a special team who knows how to set it up, and especially service it, which is not convenient for us at the moment.
Cornel, how is it to run the company that you founded, together with your daughter?
As a founder, I often have a certain point of view, and Kristina does not. It is exactly because she is not burdened by the past like me, and therefore has a fresh eye. But then again, things often need to be looked at from both perspectives.
What about you, Kristina, how do you feel about working with your father?
As he says, sometimes it is difficult to see eye to eye, but when we talk it through and lay all perspectives on the table, we always come to an agreement. We don’t live together, but we talk about work whenever we see each other, which means not only at work. When we disagree, we both try to push our opinion forward, but, in the end, we talk it through.
One more question for you, Kristina. Where do you see yourself and the company in 10 years?
I see myself in the company, maybe with a little successor of my own and my father overlooking it from a house in the Caribbean, where we could all come for a holiday. And as for the company, I still see it as number one on the market in its field, with a growing turnover.
It’s the end of 2022, can you both have a New Year wish to conclude our interview with?
We wish for everyone to stay healthy, because that is the most important thing of all. And secondly, we hope that the war and economic situation will return to normal, and we will all be able to continue to live and carry on doing business in peace.