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Solaris co-founder to step down from the Polish family business

A co-founder of Polish family business Solaris has announced she is stepping down as chief executive of the bus manufacturer, but insists the company will remain in full family ownership.

Solange Olszewska will step down in April, the company announced today, and will be replaced by Dr Andreas Strecker, the former president and chief executive of Daimler Buses North America.

Solaris, which employs 2,3000 staff, custom makes energy efficient buses for its clients across the European continent. In 2014, it was a nominee for Sustainable Family Business of the Year in the CampdenFB European Families in Business Awards.

The company was founded by Olszewska and her husband, Kryzysztof in 1996.

In a statement, Olszewska, who was last year awarded Top Manager by Bloomberg Businessweek Polska, desribed the leadership change as “a carefully considered step that has long been in the planning”.

“Our company and our employees are ready for a change. Just as today, Solaris will belong to the Olszewski family. As owner and advisor to the board, I will continue to provide support on strategic decisions affecting the development of the company,” Olszewska added.

Her replacement, Strecker, has a doctorate in Technical Business Administration from the University of Stuttgart, and has known the Olszewski family for close to 20 years.

The announcement came the same day that Solaris released its record results for the latest financial year. In 2014 it sold 1380 tram and bus units, up from 1302 the previous year, earning total revenues of 1.5 billion PLN (€375 million).

Poland, where it is market leader in low-floor city buses, is its leading market, but export markets now account for 80% of sales, with Germany, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic being its next more important markets.

“In the past year, we were actively involved both in countries where Solaris has been present for a long time and in areas where we had our debut, like in Turkey. We do not exclude the possibility of going outside of the European continent,” Olszewska said in a statement.

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