The Slovenia Times

Interview: Klaus Holeczek, odelo Group



How would you sum up the work of odelo?

As General Manager, I managed the odelo Prebold plant in Slovenia from its first day and initially it was pioneering work - building the plant, transferring projects and production and being faced with fulfilling market and customer demands for cost/OTD/quality in the production of moulding, metallising and assembly. Since then, odelo Slovenija has grown from a company of around 20 employees to a firm with over 700 employees and has become one of the most recognised producers of high-quality tail lights, centre high mounted stop lights and signal lights for premium class cars.

Where do you see the greatest potential for your firm in Slovenia?

Our greatest potential is our employees. We have young, highly educated and motivated employees who are the main reason for our success. They, without a doubt, have a vital role in our customer's satisfaction with odelo Slovenija. We have a special emphasis on the education of each employee and development of prospective personnel and we strive to ensure they have a high level of professionalism. Moreover, we promote individual responsibility and emphasize the importance of continuous improvement by each individual and the team in the process of creating satisfied and motivated employees which is also important for our products. Here we see the greatest success and potential of the company and that is how we set the foundation for our long term success. We also have great support from our colleagues in Germany who have years of engineering experience in automotive lighting and together with them and our new investors/owners, the Bayraktarlar family, we have great potential for our improvement in the lighting business.

Are there any obstacles you are encountering in Slovenia?

Currently the main obstacle we are facing is finding financing sources within the Slovenian banking system. We are operating in a business sector which is very investment intensive. All products which we add to our production portfolio demand high start-up costs and investment which is repaid throughout the product lifecycle. We are still a growing company therefore additional business requires additional funding. We are well aware of the liquidity problems Slovenian banks are facing. If the credit crunch for business remains, we will have to find alternative solutions. Also Slovenian labour costs are constantly rising. This means we always need to look for other areas to stay competitive as the pressures from economies in the region are ever greater.

What are your ideas for changing this situation?

Slovenia, as a small economy, should assess which business sectors are healthy and worth supporting. There should be a long term vision. Short term solutions are only prolonging the inevitable. The banking system needs to be set so that the banks provide the services to business as they should. Additionally, the tax burdens on labour costs need to be relieved. Labour costs are high and this makes it hard to reward employees for the extra effort due to the high taxes and social expenses.

How do you see the current FDI situation in Slovenia?

Foreign investors looking for investment opportunities always look at countries from the outside in. Usually there are several factors which influence their decision but the main one is always a matter of comparison. If a foreign investor wants to invest in the region, they will compare Slovenia to other economies close by. Some of those countries have done a lot more to lure FDI than Slovenia. One has to understand that the investor invests their money to have some gain and a positive result from the investment. Slovenia must find ways to meet these demands within such an environment.

How would you improve the current economic situation in Slovenia?

I agree with the common idea that the future of the Slovenian economy is based on the success of getting foreign investors into the country. Therefore, the main focus should be on creating an investor-friendly environment which will show the competitive edge of the Slovenian business environment. When an investor is able to answer the question of why they should invest in Slovenia, then they will invest. As long as they see better opportunities nearby there is a problem. Just as companies do, the state and government should find a solution in benchmarking, i.e. find a successful country nearby or worldwide and follow its example. Slovenia has to establish a roadmap with actions and goals to follow world competitiveness.

What do you and your firm expect from the government in the short and long term?

We expect that the government will create an environment to enable successful businesses to operate with the least obstacles. There should absolutely be a solution to the local finance sourcing possibilities. Also the tax strain on labour should be reduced.

What are the short and long term plans of odelo?

Customer satisfaction is our main focus. We place great importance on treating one another with respect. Outstanding quality cannot guarantee customer satisfaction by itself, but it is an essential basis for the decisions made by our clients, our suppliers and our business partners. Product quality is not the only cornerstone of odelo's success. We take an integrated approach and our quality expectations influence our processes also. That is the only way to ensure customer satisfaction and thus our own commercial success.
Innovation is always our key to long term existence and that is why we always introduce the latest technology and knowledge into our production processes. Among our long term goals is to become one of the best production companies in the world and to achieve the WCM (World Class Manufacturing) level to continually improve in quality, cost, lead time, flexibility and customer service and to make our plants flexible and competitive with the best in the world. And in the future we would also like to put more attention on local sourcing.

This year you were the only firm in Slovenia who got the TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) award. What does winning this award mean to you?

In March, odelo Slovenija became the first company in Slovenia with the international TPM Award, awarded by the International TPM Institute, for the company's successful introduction of lean production. With the successful introduction of TPM methods, we increased the cost efficiency of production which is definitely an advantage for our customers. We are one of the most competitive companies in this area. However, lean production does not end with the TPM award. Winning the TPM award means that we have reached a certain level of lean production which we have to maintain and upgrade. There are a lot of possibilities to introduce new ways for lean production. An upgrade and constant improvement of lean production is our priority on our way to being among the best. We are still on our way for the Roadmap 2015 WCM goal. Now we need to stabilise at this level and follow our goals and activities step by step.

How do you perceive events such as the upcoming FDI Summit?

We are always open for exchanging opinions with experts from different fields. I think that the FDI Summit is a good opportunity to get to know each other, to introduce ourselves to the broader public, to meet with representatives of Slovenian political and economic life and to present our view on the economic situation in Slovenia. Transparent communication and common problem solving have always been one of the most important key factors for our company and for this reason we support events such as the FDI Summit.


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