Investments and growth as a response to the economic crisis
Interview: Mladen Sumina, owner and director of the company Vis and a trade business Sumina
The company VIS has been present on the Croatian market since 2005. The main activities are production and assembly of steel structures, manufacturing and production of blacksmith and metal accessories. The company offers complete service in consulting and design in the field of prefabricated construction on a turnkey basis. Alongside the company, there is a sister trade business for the production of metal accessories “Sumina” which has been present on the market since 1997 employing in total of 55 employees.
Over the past few years, the company has had a steady growth, and one of the most important business partners is HS Product, a successful arms factory in Karlovac, for which they have built several production and storage facilities. With the aim of providing a superior service to its customers, the company introduced the quality management system ISO 9001 into its business. They are certified for the production and assembly of steel structures in accordance with HRN EN ISO 3834-3 standards. They also have ISO EN 12952 certificate, and all of their steel suppliers have all required attestation for steel.
Mr Sumina, to start the conversation, could you briefly present the company VIS?
As a company VIS we have been in business since 2005. Prior to that, we started a trade business “Sumina” in 1997, which produced screw products. We still have this trade business, but now it mostly deals with locksmith related work, whereas the main activity of the company VIS is the production of steel structures and coating them in different types and colours of profiled metal sheet, panels and polycarbonate panels as per our client’s selection.
Thanks to the continuous investment into people and equipment, VIS Ltd. is capable to respond to the most complex of market demands. We employ engineers of various industries (civil engineering, mechanical engineering…), we have external contractors for all business aspects. Many of our employees have gained experience on many tasks across Europe.
In today’s labour market, it is difficult to find appropriate employees. What can you say about that?
As we are having a steady growth, in order to be able to survive in the market and respond to the most complex market demands, we have to have highly qualified and trained employees. VIS continually invests into education of current and new employees through thematic trainings at all levels. New employees learn about the organization and workplace through an induction training programme, which was developed by us. Although the programme contains the same elements to all employees, it is also adjusted for each individual employee, based on earlier experiences, and for a workplace where an employee will be working. We are proud to say that today we have almost 100% qualified employees.
Could you please tell us something about the workshop and assembly? What types of tasks do you perform the most? Unlike many domestic companies, you have a steady growth and in these years of economic crisis, you have considerably invested into business?
We have a large production capacity thanks to the size of the production space and modern equipment we own. We have recently built a new plant so that we now have production on 1800m2 of covered production space and we also have 5000m2 of land around our production plants. We have certified welders who are trained to work on far more complex jobs from segments of our primary production, which is construction of plants. Upon receipt of an order in the workshop, the leading foreman distributes production of elements per groups of welders and locksmiths. Employees are trained to read workshop drafts and to independently produce all construction elements as per those drafts. Following the production, the elements are sent for further processing as per investor’s instructions, and on completion, the products are inspected and then sent for assembly.
Our employees are trained for the most complicated challenges of assembly. They perform all tasks related to the screw and welded collection system and all tasks related to assembly of wall and flooring and other sheet metal works.
Following the trends of modern architecture, we have developed the technology of building prefabricated plants and we mostly make steel structures, the complex preparation is done in the workshop. This is all assembled from completed 12 metre profiles, we cut them in corners, we cut panels with machines which are made for this: plasma, laser, punching, scissors and from these elements as per workshop drafts we assemble structural elements that are later assembled into a single unit.
We have modern machines, but there are ambitions to get better and it is our wish to further develop our machine fleet, we have just applied for an entrepreneurial impulse and wish to buy a a shot blaster for shot blasting of profiles. Also, we will need more robots for welding, CNC machines and some specialized machines in order to have a quality development and move ahead. Only last year, we used over 1500 tons of steel. The year before, we used 800 tons.
There are numerous projects behind you, could you single out any and what are you currently working on?
We have been developing on realistic foundations and in times of crisis we were lucky to work with good investors who always paid on time. First of all, I would like to single out our work for HS produkt, which was a positive turning point and a great investment that gave us the momentum to organize ourselves. For HS produkt we have built a small “town” of production plants, as well as a lot of additional work in the area of locksmith and this cooperation is continuing.
Next, there are: Lana tiskara with an annex to the office building for production and storage facilities, ALU-BEN production and storage facilities for the production of ALU and PVC joinery, RIPS production and storage facilities, DIV Samobor, HAC… I would like to single out a building in Višnjan on 4500 square metres, border crossing Svilaj and a specific building for the super attractive stage of ”Papaya” club in Zrće.
We mostly work directly for an investor as the jobs where we are contractors are very risky and I would say that this is a great adventure as one unpaid job like this can cost the company’s survival. We are currently active in the project of a new building of the Music academy in Zagreb, which is a complex and technically demanding construction site. This is a building where there is ‘absolutely no improvisation”, which will be equipped with state of the art technological solutions both in terms of equipment and in terms of construction, including special system of insulation to prevent the spreading of vibration.
We are doing the complete upper part at 40 meters, the floor which will be completely lined in steel construction on top of which there will be lamellae in rainbow colours. Following these and other completed jobs, we are recognized by many today, some jobs come themselves, and we are currently into talks for the refinery in Brod for the investors from Russia.
As we are part of the EU now, is business easier in some aspects? Can you feel the effect of competition from the EU?
For now, we do not have any visible or tangible results. We are in negotiations with Norwegians, Slovenians, Austrians. The objective is to make this step and to work on the large and quality EU market, to do large transactions with a number of companies with secure payment and minimal profit. Take, for example, Polish companies that are well organized and used their EU membership and due to lower labour cost took over a large number of jobs in Germany.
We are confident that we can be competitive on the market of the countries throughout Europe with our quality and price. We wish to further ensure development of human potential and to become one of the leaders from our part of Europe in our industry.
Finally, can you please tell us more about the future plans of your company?
As I mentioned earlier, VIS has established itself as a respectable partner in the segment of production and assembly of steel structures as well as processing and production of blacksmith and metal accessories. Over time, we will direct our production to the more complex locksmith as well as more complex structures for power plants and similar. We hope to increase our market share in the segments where we are not adequately represented yet. I think there is still plenty of room for growth, we have mapped it to be 15% per year, and one needs to be persistent and strive for new technologies.
Certainly, to carry out such task, we need skilled people, this is where we have already done enough, and we will continue to work on improving. We are ready to respond to all requests of our investors from the concept to the installation. We have the experience, certifications, good turnout, optimal price-quality ratio.
Source: Promo Gradnja issue 25. – June 2014