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.
INTERVIEW Ambassador Tacan Ildem, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy: Fake news challenges our resilience. Through communication, NATO is more agile
NATO’s centre of gravity and its essential strength is the commitment of its members to stand up for each other. Article 5 in this respect is the core of the North Atlantic Treaty, says Ambassador Tacan Ildem, Assistant of NATO’s Secretary General for Public Diplomacy.
In an interview for CaleaEuropeană.ro, on the sidelines of Bucharest Forum, Ambassador Ildem praised Romania’s efforts to contribute to NATO’s communication and branding campaign, underlining that our country holds a key role on explaining the Alliance’s policy towards the Black Sea and the Western Balkans, while enjoyind a “recognized excellence” in new technologies, both an opportunity and challenge to the nature of warfare.
Ambassador Ildem also referred to NATO’s efforts in countering fake news, drawing attention to the idea that “fake news challenge enduring public support for NATO policies.
“It challenges our resilience as societies. This is why NATO aim to counter this phenomenon calmly but firmly”, said NATO’s high-ranking official.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: Seventy years of NATO and especially thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall seem like far moments in history for an ordinary citizen. How do you explain to the general public the need of having the collective defense umbrella provided by NATO?
Ambassador Ildem: Thirty years ago, the Cold War ended, and with it the separation of Europe. In the last three decades, challenges have been different and yet the commitment of Allies to stand as one has endured. Better yet, new Allies have joined, including Romania, and this is illustrative of the benefits provided by membership in NATO. I believe the ordinary citizen understand well that our societies are confronted to many security challenges, both traditional ones, like Russia’s new assertive foreign policy, and less traditional ones, like cyber threats or terrorism. NATO does not replace national efforts towards defense, but it brings them together so that together, the Alliance is greater and stronger than the sum of its parts.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: After the end of Cold War NATO enlarged as a promise for newly born democracies in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2014, the Alliance faces multiple threats including at its Eastern borders, but some are non-military and use disruptive technologies. What can NATO do more to help new allies, including Romania, to build more resilient societies in dealing with disinformation activities?
Ambassador Ildem: Disinformation is a concern for everyone, because unlike misinformation, which is unintended, disinformation is an attempt to sow error and wrong appreciations of reality intentionally. Resilience is a frame of mind, irrespective of when one joined NATO! It requires that every member of society do its part. At NATO, we consider that resilience includes pro-active communication, to inform the public and the media; reactive communication to correct what we consider partial, incomplete or tendentious reports in the information environment; and frequent face to face meetings with opinion leaders, because direct meetings develop trust, a key component of resilience. But citizens also have a role to play in countering disinformation activities, by diversifying their sources of information and by being mindful of possible political biases. NATO’s public diplomacy is contributing to this effort.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: NATO’s ongoing process to adapt to a challenging security environment, especially on the hybrid and disinformation challenges, has found a name two years ago: “#WeAreNATO”. What is the story behind this branded communications campaign and why has it surfaced?
Ambassador Ildem: NATO has always sought to adapt. Even before the 2014 illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, public diplomacy was evolving rapidly taking into account the rise of social media and its impact on audiences but also on the tools communicators use. NATO considered these new developments and decided to adapt and adopt new modalities. The method evolves, but the ultimate objective remains unchanged: to reach out to diverse public in our nations. With campaigns, we are more agile, better able to measure the impact of our work, and therefore hopefully more successful as well.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: Romania is one of the pioneers of the #WeAreNATO campaign while the public support for our NATO membership raises more than 50% of the population, and these are positive facts. Even so, how can Romania, as an Eastern border of Western world, actively engage to better promote and explain NATO’s profile and measures for deterrence and defense?
Ambassador Ildem: I am very happy that Romania has contributed so much to our campaign effort to explain NATO policies to home audiences. As your readers may not know, we have three priority publics, of which the first is the successor generation, the future leaders of Romania. We are also reaching out to women specifically. Finally, we seek to ensure that people without higher education have an understanding of Romania’s Alliance contributions. Looking forward, Romania has a role in explaining NATO’s approach to the Black Sea and Western Balkans, but also in explaining the determination of Allies to innovate in the face of disruptive new technologies – technologies that present opportunities, but that will also change the nature of warfare. I think here specifically of big data, artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies, areas in which Romania enjoys recognized excellence.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: NATO has always been referred to as a collective defense organization guided by the principle engraved under Article 5. To what extent fake news phenomenon is a threat for NATO’s security and ability to defend its members? In this, what would be the role of public diplomacy within the Alliance in countering hybrid warfare?
Ambassador Ildem: Fake news is a complex phenomenon involving both would-be state competitors as well as non-state organizations. Its destructive intent is compounded by the new potential of social media platforms. NATO takes this reality very seriously. We chose to oppose fake news with facts, and do so through proactive press relations, social media engagements, as well as through a dynamic program of public diplomacy activities aimed at different audiences. While it does not directly affect NATO’s ability to defend itself militarily, fake news do contribute to muddying the waters and to confusing publics. Therefore fake news challenge enduring public support for NATO policies. It challenges our resilience as societies. This is why NATO aim to counter this phenomenon calmly but firmly.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: Although our transatlantic cooperation is weakened by geopolitical disruptions and the return of great power politics, NATO is almost unanimously self-considered the most successful military alliance. How are cohesion and “allied strong” approach playing up their role in keeping the West united at a time when we should celebrate three decades since the values on which NATO was founded began to find their ground in Central and Eastern Europe?
Ambassador Ildem: NATO’s centre of gravity, its essential strength, is the commitment of its members to stand up for each other. Article 5 in this respect is the core of the North Atlantic Treaty. Cohesion among Allies is the Secretary General’s priority at all times, and that of his collaborators. This is why it is important to attend seminars such as the Bucharest Security Forum, which helps to develop a common view of challenges and threats.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: In a few weeks, NATO leaders will gather in London to mark 70 years of the North-Atlantic family. At the same time, many allies celebrate ten, fifteen or twenty years since joining the Euro-Atlantic community. What does the future hold for NATO?
Ambassador Ildem: Citizens and experts alike recognize NATO’s historical capacity to adapt. This is why it has celebrated this year its 70th anniversary. In looking to the future, NATO is again taking the steps to adapt to a changed security environment. It has taken steps to reinforce its defence and deterrence in the biggest effort in a generation, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. It is busy developing responses to hybrid and cyber challenges and to instability in the South. It seeks to enhance the resilience of its operations, and helps Allies do the same. It works with partners to strengthen their defense establishments. NATO is fully committed to remaining fit for purpose as challenges to security continue to evolve.
INCSMPS organises the ”GLOBE Competence Framework -New Skills for Green Jobs” European Conference (LIVE, September 26th, 10:00)
The National Scientific Research Institute for Labour and Social Protection (INCSMPS) is organising the European Conference ”GLOBE Competence Framework – New Skills for Green Jobs. Game Based Training To Develop Transversal Green Skills in Apprenticeship Programmes”.
The event will take place on Thursday, September 26th, at the Marshal Garden Hotel in Bucharest, and will be live streamed on CaleaEuropeană.ro and on Calea Europeană’s Facebook Page, starting at 10:00.
”GLOBE Competence Framework – New Skills for Green Jobs. Game Based Training To Develop Transversal Green Skills in Apprenticeship Programmes” is financed through an Erasmus + project.
The objectives of GLOBE project are: answer to shortage of skills and competences in green economy; contributing to update the national competence and skills framework, including new competences for green economy and up-dating traditional professional profiles ac-cording to the new requirements; improve the training delivery mechanism, through the development and use of innovative learning and training resources (game based learning); dealing with the dual challenge of green economy, making economic growth compatible with climate stabilisation and sustainable environment footprint through the development of green skills and competences in apprentice; contributing to develop the social dimension of green economy, promoting training and adapting labour.
As for INCSMPS, since it was established, in 1990, the institute has performed scientific research activities in the field of labour market and social protection, thus supporting Romania’s efforts to create and develop a sustainable economy, based on modern, European principles. The scientific research in the institute is related to the labour market and social policy, for the creation of measurement instruments, indices and criteria.
INCSMPS has as main object of activity the research and development in the field of social and humanist sciences, carry out surveys and research with theoretical-applicative character in fields of national interest regarding the human resources management, social development and social protection in Romania.
Foreign Affairs Minister Ramona Mănescu: The Strategic Partnership with the US is the central focus of the Romanian diplomacy, while the accession to Schengen remains a priority
Foreign Affairs Minister Ramona Mănescu said on Thursday that Romania’s accession to Schengen remains a priority of the Romanian diplomacy.
“Evoking the period when I was MEP, I can certainly tell you that (…) all the time both [the European] Parliament and the Commission said Romania was prepared to join Schengen, from a technical and logistical point of view. (…) Practically, we function de facto as a Schengen member state, but de jure we are not regarded as such. Romania doesn’t ask anything but the observance of the Treaty, we are members with full rights, we met our commitments and we seriously continue to meet them, no one can challenge Romania’s contribution to the security space, because we are not talking only about the eastern flank of NATO, we are also talking about EU’s eastern flank,” Ramona Mănescu told Antena 3 private television broadcaster on Thursday, quoted by Agerpres.
She maintained that the Romanian citizens “have all the right to get this well-deserved position of Schengen member state.”
“This is not something we must beg for, or be made a favour. It is provided in the Treaty and it must be observed. (…) I assure you we keep this on the agenda as priority topic, and all bilateral and extended discussions will include the Schengen accession component, we won’t stop from telling our colleagues in the EU that the Romanian citizens have the same rights,” Mănescu underscored, mentioning that, at present, in the Council half of the states support Romania’s accession to the free movement area, and the others oppose.
The Foreign Minister also pointed out that the Strategic Partnership with the US must remain the central focus of the Romanian diplomacy.
She also showed that Romania has the same position towards Russia as NATO and the EU.
“Romania’s position towards Russia starts in the first place from the vicinity we are in, but it is also part of the EU’s position regarding Russia, as we are part of the EU, we must get in line with EU’s stand. I am referring to sanctions, to certain limitations that we have in the dialogue and cooperation with Russia and I am particularly referring to the firm position we have as EU member, which we have always had, of observing the international legislative framework. We don’t ask too much from Russia as an actor on the geopolitical stage if we ask them to respect the international legislative framework. (…) It is the principle which we start from and which we cannot fail to keep not even for Russia, which is here, close to us. We have no reason to make an exception, because nothing is negotiable in this story,” Ramona Mănescu said.
According to the Minister, the relation with Russia represents “a key point in the stability in the area, in securing NATO’s eastern flank, in the manner in which we can further manage the discussions in the Black Sea. “The threats and gestures which Russia has repeatedly done in the Black Sea space, from a military stand, have been sanctioned all the time. (…) Both NATO and the EU have the same discourse. Romania cannot have a different discourse, because it is both part of the EU and NATO, and we are at the Black Sea,” she added.
Mănescu also said that she expected “the energy diplomacy to have its word,” in regards to the resources in the Black Sea.
“Our desire is for a partner such as Exxon to stay here and continue to work together as much and as well as possible. This entails our making some steps in an expected direction. I believe things will settle in the end, enter the right track and I even want to clarify this position shortly and the US partners must be convinced that we’ll be keeping the same line. (…) Mrs PM wants this as well,” Mănescu said.
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