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INTERVIEW with Marian Nechifor, Transparent Design CEO, one of the biggest glass pane manufacturers in South-East Europe: We are going to open a new dealership in Brussels

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After they invested over five million euros in new technologies, obtaining ISO European certification, one of the biggest glass pane manufacturers in South-East Europe, Transparent Design, is preparing to extend its activity in the heart of the European Union. In the interview given after his return from the Conference on the industrial future of Europe, organized by the Permanent Representation of Romania to the EU, during the mandate of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Marian Nechifor, the company CEO, announced that he had decided to open an office in Brussels.

CaleaEuropeană: Today, CaleaEuropeana.ro is at the headquarters of one of the largest glass pane manufacturing companies in South-East Europe.  We have with us the CEO of this firm “Transparent Design”, Mr. Adrian Nechifor, who recently returned from Brussels where he attended a business event. Thank you for having us.

Marian Nechifor: During the previous week I have participated in a conference, in Brussels, on industrial policies for the next 10 years and after. I came back with the idea of promoting Transparent Design in Europe. We wish to further take part in such conferences with the occasion of the Romanian EU Council Presidency. It was a conference in which we made ourselves known to certain organizations, the CEOs of specific companies in Europe.

CaleaEuropeană: How are Romanian businessmen received? How did you integrate in that atmosphere and how relevant is what is happening here, in Bucharest, where you have this factory, for your European partners?

M.N.: They were successfully received. There is no difference when coming from South-East Europe. Regarding what is happening in Bucharest, the European Union should acknowldge it more. There are good things happening.  We are developing at a faster pace than them.

Massive investments in the increase of quality and capacity of production

CaleaEuropeană: How did you start? We can see at the back many modern machines. How did Transparent Design start and what is the level reached by now?

M.N.: In accordance with a Romanian proverb, not to put all your eggs in one basket, in the first years of business, having a company for automotive commerce and a business in public consultancy, I considered that a business in production can be more durable than a business in commerce. I have invested my soul in it. The first steps were taken in January 2006, by purchasing several second hand machines from EU. Unfortunately for us, the recession hit in 2008. It was pretty rough. I did not stop fighting, I very much believed in the business and in the year 2012-2013, when the business came around, I focused on extremely big investments which I have carried out and still do. And, during the course of this year, we have approximately 1 million euro at our disposal for increasing productivity, quality and, of course, for entering the European markets with our products.

CaleaEuropeană: You talked about big investments. What is the sum of all  investment made at Transparent Design?

M.N.: At the moment, the investments made for Transparent Design are around 5 million euros. We also have, for next year, an investment of approximately 1 million euro to increase production capacity and quality of our products.

CaleaEuropeană: Did you use European funds?

M.N.: I did not manage to use European funds because the moment I decided to apply for European funds, in Bucharest-Ilfov region, the last train had already gone. I had to borrow from several banks.

CaleaEuropeană: Do intend to use such funding solutions in the next years?

M.N.: I intend to use such funding solutions. However, I don’t know if for future projects there will be any European funds for Bucharest and for developed cities in Romania.

CaleaEuropeană: You were for the first time in Brussels, at this meeting with business people from the European Union. Will you continue to participate in this kind of meetings in order to connect with the European Union?

M.N.: Yes, I wish to participate in next events and I’ve already asked to be informed about upcoming conferences.

CaleaEuropeană: Thank you very much! We have with us the members of your team. I invite Mr. Adrian Badici, the executive director of the company. I’ve talked earlier with Mr. Nechifor about the sum of all investments here, about plans for development. Besides the fact that you indeed use new technology here and that you have  large scale production , what makes you different from other companies?

Adrian Bădici: Not only is it new, but it is also the best technology on the market, we use the best brands of machinery in the industry, all made in Europe, we offer European certification for our products. Our goal is to always supervise the quality of products delivered to our customers and, in general, to improve every aspect of production, the relationship with the client and the respect towards workers and employees of the company.

CaleaEuropeană: What are you producing here?

A.B.: In general, products made of plain glass, lamination, high quality enamelling, both ceramic and organic, cutting, milling,  the whole range of manufacturing available.

CaleaEuropeană: What kind of clients do you have? From the industry, household consumers? What are your products used for?

A.B.: We have clients from the industry and from households, all kinds. We’re working really hard to head towards industrial because things are more clear and the serial products can be better handled.

CaleaEuropeană: Thank you! We have with us the technical director, the one who manages the installation of the products, Mr. Bogdan Turcu.  What is your role? How do you involve yourself in their assembling?

Bogdan Turcu: We go to the respective locations. From taking measurements, together with the architects involved in this project, we put the finished products in action. We use the best materials, from hardware to adhesives, whatever the application of coloured glass on the walls needs. Architects are required for everything that means office buildings and assembling luxurious residential areas and we try to collaborate on design, to adjust to their demands and to give them the needed products and support for each project, meaning assembling teams, logistics for delivery.

CaleaEuropeană: Do you work only in Bucharest or do you also travel across the country and abroad?

B.T.:  We will go anywhere we are needed.

CaleaEuropeană: Can you give us some examples of places in Romania where you did this kind of work?

B.T.: We did work for offices in Iași, Constanța and residential areas in Constanța. We also have projects in the Danube Delta, a 5 star hotel. In Bucharest we have the Bluerose residential complex, the Renault offices, which use a new concept in Romania, Bridge 2, an ensemble of 3 office buildings, out of which 2 are finished and we are starting the third phase. We also work in residential areas in Pipera, which is developing luxurious buildings. 

Marian Nechifor: Moreover, we have worked in setting up many malls in different parts of the country, such as Satu Mare, Baia Mare, Sibiu and some in Bucharest: Vitan, Plaza Romania, Afi.

Western customers, impressed by the quality of the glass produced in Bucharest

CaleaEuropeană:  Do your clients sometimes come to see what kind of technology you are using, and how these things are produced?

M.N.: It happens sometimes and they are very impressed, but the most impressed are the ones coming from Europe. It seems they stopped at a development stage 20 years behind and they remain impressed when they enter our factory. They cannot believe their eyes.

CaleaEuropeană: Because we are talking about the way in which you promote your products, we have Mrs. Luana Liciu, marketing director of Transparent Design. I have talked with the CEO and with the directors of the company about production, how they get to clients, so most of the time, your role is to convince them that what is happening here is high quality and that it is worth working with you. What feedback do you receive from them?

Luana Liciu: We would say that a very good feedback; there are small issues which we can improve, but we are working on it every day.

CaleaEuropeană: Does it help, as marketing director, the fact that you use new technology and that you have an extremely well prepared staff?

L.L.: It is our strength, the machinery and the staff part. First of all, the deadlines are respected, and we have a delivery time shorter than the competition and, of course, the quality. This was our target from the beginning, the quality side, not the quantity, and then we focused on this and it worked, if I may say so, successfully, considering the clients’ feedback after receiving and installing the merchandise.

CaleaEuropeană: Do you plan to head towards the European markets? Because in Romania, I found out, you have many important clients, various areas, from malls to other type of buildings which are in need of your services. Do you intend to also test the European market also, have you entered other countries?

L.L.: Yes, we also had exports and in the following period we have to increase the amount of exported product especially because we have a very large production capacity and we don’t have to worry about quality. The most important thing when you are exporting is to maintain a high standard and not to have problems with the transport or other expenses and negative feedback.

M.N.: We intend to open an office in Brussels this year and hire a Belgian citizen who can represent us. We considered Belgium to be located well with regard to the surrounding countires and we hope to finalize the opening by the end of this year.

A third of the production will be exported to other EU member states

CaleaEuropeană: Until now, comparing overall Romanian exports to yours, about 80% from what Romania produces goes to the EU market. If we refer to export, what is your target for the next period?

M.N.: At the moment we have a very small percentage related to export, around 5% and 10%, but we intend to increase it around 30-40% because the majority of raw material is imported from Europe and we want to bring the products to them.

CaleaEuropeană: Thank you very much. With us, because we spoke of promotion,  is the director for Promotion of Transparent Design, Mrs. Alina Nechifor. Will you adapt the promoting strategy for the expansion in Brussels?

Alina Nechifor: At the moment, we are trying to do it online because it is a trend and our clients know us on the market as we are trying to do this promotion on the external market. We have a company with which we are collaborating.

CaleaEuropeană: In order to get into those markets you firstly have to make yourselves known. That would be the first challenge. Participating in trade fairs or business conferences in Europe can help you connect and, finally, to understand how things work. You were saying earlier that all the technology  you use is of European standards. Are there any certificates for this, what can you tell us?

A.N.: All the equipment in our factory is imported from the EU, same as the raw materials we use, we are ISO certified and all the products we use are backed by certifcates and this is why I don’t think it will be hard for us to go on the EU market which includes 28 countries and 500 million people; it is a big market for all of us and I hope we can make it.

A.N.: Of course, it is also about the range of products. Because the tendency now is to use bigger and bigger windows, we purchase machinery with which we process the windows until 5 m. Furthermore, in the enamelling line, we make ceramic varnished glass and, lastly, we will purchase the biggest printer which is used for making screen printing and prints on glass from 3m to 6m. It will the the biggest line of production in Romania or even in South-East Europe.

CaleaEuropeană: Can you tell us some numbers regarding the employees, the turnover, that will somehow make sense of the magnitude at which you work here?

M.N: The number of employees is around 60 people. The turnover has grown every year with a percentage of 20- 30%. We had a big growth in 2018 compared to 2017, with approximately 50% and we believe this year we’ll surpass the turnover of 2018 with approximately 30%.

CaleaEuropeană: We will stop here. Transparent Design is a company which has grown, unfortunately without European funds, but, who knows,  maybe the future will smile upon you in this area as well. A company like many others in Romania which offers and wishes to enter the 1400 billion euros European free market, compared to the 200 billion euros which Romania produces, having a very high potential. This can also happen in our industry which has plenty of successful initiatives. We will be back to see what will happen.

Alexandra Loy este redactor și specialistă în afaceri europene. Deține un doctorat în domeniul științe politice, dobândit în anul 2018, cu tema analizării impactului președinției României la Consiliul Uniunii Europene asupra sistemului național de coordonare a afacerilor europene. Alexandra este membru al comunității academice din cadrul Școlii Naționale de Studii Politice și Administrative.

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AmCham: Romania’s capital market upgrade to emerging market status sends a positive signal to investors

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AmCham Romania joins private partners and the authorities in welcoming Romania’s upgrade to secondary market status by FTSE Russell, the world leader in stock market indexes classification. This marks the achievement of a shared strategic goal pursued with dedication by the private stakeholders and regulatory authorities alike.

“AmCham Romania primarily focuses on supporting initiatives that contribute to increasing the investment flows in Romania, such as the upgrade of the capital market. The promotion by FTSE Russell sends a positive signal towards the investors’ community, but is also an encouragement for all parties involved so far in making this goal a reality to continue their collaboration, which remains as necessary after this long-awaited moment. The upgrade to emerging market opens Romania’s access to significantly higher investment flows and allows us to play in a higher league. This comes in a context of global economic turmoil, which can only send a positive signal to current and potential investors and is expected to have a multiplier effect on the economy” said Ionuț Simion, AmCham Romania President. 

Romania’s qualification for secondary emerging market status, after a three-year monitoring period, announced in September 2019 and applicable from September 2020, confirms the removal of barriers and improvements in the quality of trading infrastructure and of the regulatory framework.

“I would like to reiterate that the success we welcome today proves that through partnership and cooperation we can achieve positive results for the economy at large. At the same time, it holds all of us responsible to remain committed towards the immediate objectives for the Romanian capital market, such as upgrade to emerging market status by MSCI. Midterm, in AmCham’s vision, the development of the capital market should focus on meeting the next level of performance needed to qualify as primary emerging market, and eventually, the upgrade to developed market status. In this regard, we will strongly support the need for state-owned enterprises to be listed, which in addition to the benefits of attracting capital inflows, will create the framework for consolidating their corporate governance. The development of the capital market will also need measures to incentivize the listing of private companies, as a means to diversify their financing sources, which requires both vision and a favorable, stable legislative and fiscal framework, for which we rely on the involvement of the responsible authorities”, pointed Cristian Agalopol, Chair of the AmCham Romania Capital Markets and Financial Services Committee.

FTSE Russel performs an annual review of the countries’ classification in the four categories – developed markets, advanced emerging, secondary emerging and frontier, by analyzing 21 criteria that are related to the regulative framework, custody and settlement, dealing landscape, derivatives.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Romania (AmCham Romania) is for over 25 years a leading representative of the business community in Romania, and is acknowledged as a promoter of the private-public dialogue on matters related to the business climate, public policies that impact Romania’s economy and competitiveness or the economic ties between Romania and the U.S.

Currently, AmCham Romania’s over 450 members – U.S., international and Romanian companies allow AmCham to engage in promoting the business priorities for many industries, through dedicated working groups, such as: Capital Markets & Financial Services, Corporate Governance, Competition and State-Aid, Education, Energy, Environment, Health, Digital Economy, Labor, Structural Funds, Public Procurement and PPP, Real Estate, Taxation and Tourism.

AmCham Romania’s connection with the international business is granted by its accreditation by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its affiliation to AmChams in Europe. In Romania, AmCham enjoys a great institutional collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest and is a member and contributor to Coaliţia pentru Dezvoltarea României, the informal consultation platform supported by business associations that share the same objectives.

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Presidents of Romania, Lithuania and Poland: We state our will to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path

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© Administrația Prezidențială

The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nauseda, and the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, state their will, in a joint statement, to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path and appeal to the international community to join the EU and its member states in the demarche of preparing a positive agenda for Belarus, together with a package of support for the political, economic and social transition of the country.

“We, the Presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Romania, as member states of the European Union: supporting firmly liberty and the promotion of democratic principles, emphasizing that free, fair and transparent elections are a fundamental democratic right of any nation, admitting as legitimate the results of the elections only if they are organized in agreement with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and are monitored internationally, explicitly admitting that no one but the people of Belarus has the right to decide the destiny of their country, reassuring on our respect for such a decision made on legitimate bases, understanding that a prosperous Belarus, built on social trust and a common vision, is essential for a more stable and safer Europe, we declare our will to support the people of Belarus in building a democratic path, through a state leadership which is democratically elected, a free civil society, free market and the rule of law,” shows the statement of the three heads of states.

The joint statement titled “Proposal for a democratic Belarus” is available here.

The three heads of state show that they offer expertise and know-how for the path of political and economic reforms, to build independent institutions and to ensure an environment where respect for human rights and freedom of expression are an unshakeable fundamental norm of society.

They believe that, in the demarche to support the people of Belarus, it’s useful for the European Union – as a major global economic power – propose a package of assistance for the economic transformation of a democratic Belarus which should include, inter alia: the facilitation of commerce with the European Union and assistance for accession negotiations with the World Trade Organization; a liberalized visa regime, when the necessary conditions are met; assistance to diversify the energy sector and for the energy security of Belarus; access to financial resources to restructure and relaunch the liberal economy of Belarus; increased presence and activity of the international financial institutions to reform the economy of Belarus and to increase investment.

“We address an appeal to the international community to join the European Union and its member states in the demarche of preparing a positive agenda for Belarus, together with a package of support for the political, economic and social transition of the country”, the three presidents concluded.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EU must create solid programs in order to rebuild the labor market

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©Vasile Blaga/ Facebook

MEP Vasile Blaga, a member of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, stresses that the European Union must create solid programs for consolidating and rebuilding the labor market after the COVID-19 period.

“Economic data for the second quarter of 2020 show a worrying decline in the labor market across the European Union. In Romania, the number of closed employment contracts has increased alarmingly – we are approaching one million closed employment contracts, and the number of closed contracts on 15 July is double compared to 1st June 2020. The most affected sectors are manufacturing and it is possible that in the next period we will see a massive increase in contracts in the hospital industry, still affected by the restrictions generated by the pandemic “, said the MEP for Calea Europeană media platform.

According to the Liberal MEP, protecting jobs must be the number one priority for the European Union.

“It is clear that the European Union must be massively concerned with protecting existing jobs and financially stimulating the creation of new ones ”, he added.

Private sector employment must also be a priority for the European Commission: “Direct funding through various forms of private sector employment must be a priority for the Commission in the next period, complemented by the stimulation of sectors severely affected by pandemic – the hospitality industry and the arts and entertainment sector are a priority in this regard “, said the EPP MEP Vasile Blaga.

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