King of the Castle: Alex Pekker is Golden Link to European marketplace
There is an old adage, “A man’s home is his castle.” In the case of Alex Pekker, his office just happens to be in a castle in Budapest, Hungary! Once pronounced Russia’s sexiest man (2007) by an independent function at Kino Expo, Alex Pekker is managing director, EMEA, for Golden Link Inc.
Alex has had the opportunity to travel on multiple continents and his colleagues know him as a gentle giant in the industry (at 1.67 meters tall). He has worked in the development of kids’ trays, toppers and premium concession items for over 16 years. His credentials exceed many of his counterparts and he is seen as a most trusted partner in the world of sales and training environments.
Alex was born in Belorussia and moved to Israel with his family at an early age. He accepted his first job at Rav Hev Cinemas (Cinema City) in Israel, where he learned the trade working in several different positions. In 1997, Cinema City extended its circuit to Hungary and Alex moved to Budapest to assist in opening the second company multiplex. His skill set was so strong he soon became project manager for construction of all new facilities at Cinema City while he supervised the opening of three new multiplexes in 1999.
His residence in Hungary became permanent in 1999, when he accepted the position of director of operations at Cinema City. His duties included new openings, concession operations and promotional activities, which soon became his favorite task. Alex recalls, “My favorite part of operations was managing the promotions.” He also points to a bit of good fortune while discussing his ventures at Cinema City, “I had great luck to work closely with the very best people in the industry. I learned a great deal from my mentors, Mooky and Israel Grieninger, as well as Amos Weltsch, who taught me so many things about the cinema industry and more.”
He recalls one occasion when his theatre was presenting a “Special Premiere Screening” with a sold-out audience. The 35mm film had just arrived and when he tried to move it, it fell off the platter, scattering everywhere. “We had to cut the film in many parts and splice it back together. I had to have three employees stand next to the projector machine and hold the film in their hands while it was running.” It seems funny now, but it wasn’t at the time.
In 1999, Alex met Jeff Waaland, principal and president of Golden Link Inc., who was selling packaging and concession supplies to his circuit. This proved to be a valued relationship, as Jeff spoke openly with Alex and worked to build new concepts in cinema promotions. “Jeff told me that if I ever had a reason to leave Cinema City, he would like to open a European office.”
In 2005, Pekker left Cinema City and became a consultant for a Russian theatre group working in Siberia, where he formulated relationships with multiple theatre owners. It was, as he puts it, “a very interesting challenge,” but he realized his heart and soul were in concession operations and promotions. That is when he returned Jeff’s invitation with a hearty “Now is the time!”
In December 2005, Alex opened the Golden Link office in Budapest and began operating that workplace in 2006. This year marks his tenth anniversary with the company. The growth of the organization in Europe was fast and furious and his expertise led him to head up other global opportunities in Russia, Eastern Asia and North Africa. He now heads the largest division for Golden Link outside the Asian marketplace.
Alex received much of his inspiration from his grandfather and finds him to be a most interesting person to hold a conversation with. “My grandfather shares many stories of his escape from the ghetto of Belorussia. He walked for weeks in the forest, where he finally met some partisans in Belarus. It was during World War II and he established a weapons repair shop in the forest, doing so without any tools; he repaired guns for the militia. His stories would make for a great movie,” he chuckles.
Golden Link is a family for Alex. He has created a new generation of business clients both inside the offices and around the world, as he speaks four languages fluently: English, Russian, Hebrew and Hungarian, making him a personal translator for many visitors. His appreciation for his colleagues is evident from his quiet demeanor and solid support at Golden Link.
“I like that Golden Link not only provides innovative packaging and the highest quality of concession products,” he says, “but also offers a connection to its customers with training sessions, free consultations and leadership globally, not just in my country. Golden Link is truly amazing.”
He continues, “I really like the promotions we do at Golden Link—they all have a message for the movie patron, but if I had to pick my favorite of all time, it would be Transformers. It was a three-in-one table that converted a foosball table into an air hockey game, then into a billiards table. It was a very complex and cool product.”
Alex loves the movies, “all of them,” but he does have a favorite, The Godfather. He enjoys a Coke Zero and salted popcorn as his favorite movie snack. When he is not visiting a local cinema, he enjoys hobbies including biking, snow skiing, and really good food! When asked his favorite travel spot, he does not hesitate to mention Tokyo. “Working at Golden Link, I get to travel the world, and that is another thing I like, but I will go back to Tokyo anytime!”
Alex is married to his wife Anna and shares two children with her, Albert (5) and Sara (2).