Improving people’s lives by improving their living spaces in a totally sustainable way

Improving people’s lives by improving their living spaces in a totally sustainable way

Interview with Mr. MARIUS IONITA, CEO, Alumil Romania

Q: The global economy seems to experience challenges we have not seen in decades: very high inflation, the prospects of synchronized recession, even war, high energy prices, after a pandemic. What were the tools to navigate this business environment for you and ALUMIL?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: Without limiting ourselves to the actual times, we can tell that in recent years, Romania has experienced substantial political and economic changes. Our country has a market with business infrastructure in development, meaning that the operations carried out in Romania involve many risks. The dynamics in the political, legislative, and fiscal environment can significantly affect the company’s ability to carry out its commercial activity, as it’s not possible to estimate the changes that may occur or their effect on the financial conditions or future operational results of the company. Having this background in our mind, Alumil Romania has in place a flexible commercial policy and is able to adapt to any price fluctuations, especially since Aluminum price fluctuations at an international level affect all market participants to the same extent. To this effect, it is an advantage that Alumil Romania is part of a group with high power to acquire and process Aluminum on the international market. Also, the Company trades only with recognized, creditworthy third parties. It is the Company’s policy that all customers who wish to trade on credit terms are subject to credit verification procedures. In addition, receivable balances are monitored on an ongoing basis, having, as a result, an insignificant exposure of the Company to bad debts. Together with the loans for working capital, these provide for the current liquidity needs of the Company. Under these conditions, the Company faces a very low liquidity risk.

What is more, in ALUMIL we are committed to protecting our people, we pay special attention to the needs of our partners, and transparency in decisions and actions prevails. Agile decision- making & implementation is the process we follow and it surely generates innovation and creativity.

The diversified range of systems in our portfolio and the focus on developing innovative products are significantly contributing to the good evolution of the company.

Q: How do you manage the pressures coming from a demand for increased costs and especially high energy prices?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: Skyrocketing energy costs impact every sector of the economy and this, unfortunately, results in increased prices. The only thing we can do is to keep informed closely our clients on every change we are forced to make due to this aspect and make sure they are correctly understanding what are the reasons behind our decisions.

Taking adequate production optimization measures represents an important step in our approach to reducing energy consumption and increase efficiency trying to lower the costs as much as possible. What we may say is that uncertainty is on everyone’s mind and meticulous analysis of costs and special attention to the fast-changing geo- political and economical factors are and should be monitored closely.

Q: How do you consider the human resource crisis, the Silent Quitting phenomenon, and how do you manage it in your company?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: The idea of quiet quitting has been present for a long time now but since the pandemic, this situation has been studied more seeing that people’s way of perceiving life and work balance has changed. We believe that our people play a primary role in the achievement of our goals and in the company’s sustainable development, therefore, we are always investing in their development, while building a work culture with different ideas and beliefs which contribute to the competitiveness of the company. At Alumil, we offer our employees the opportunity to grow and evolve within the company, while creating the proper conditions to continuously improve their performance - we want to be an employer of choice for existing employees and also for new people who might want to continue their career in our company.

Let’s say, the pressure is the engine that may drive and transform businesses in a good way if appropriate measures are taken. Indeed, while employees are no doubt pleased with receiving more pay, they are looking for an extended benefits package, as we all know the pandemic period changed also the way people refer to a job. This is why we are continuing to keep a hybrid office- remote work model, we are focusing also on upskilling our employees through different training programs which are run both by our local HR and jointly with the efforts of the group HQ HR team.

The company invests a lot of effort and resources in extroversion and understanding the need to connect the academic to the business world and to support the professionals of tomorrow in their first career steps, concentrating on the benefits of our internship programs and responding to the concerns of young professionals and students. Part of this process is the internship program „Bring all you are. Become all you want.” developed this year here, in Romania, including Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, and Iasi. Addressed to students from technical areas in special, but also including economic studies, the program offered an overview of a „real job”, putting the student in contact with our departments and daily activities and resulting in programs developed by them in order to optimize the already existing processes.

To conclude, employee satisfaction and motivation represent a priority for us, as people are at the center of a company’s success, and we are committed to dedicating time and all the necessary diligence to keep our employees driven.

Q: A half year into 2022, you managed to increase the turnover of ALUMIL, by 26%, almost double the inflation rate and much more than the economic growth estimated for Romania. What were the reasons?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: We can say for sure that we are focusing on development strategies and we are striving to offer the best solutions to our clients both from a technical and financial point of view. The recently completed investments in the modernization of the two important regional HUBs located in Iasi and Cluj- Napoca, the ongoing modernization of our HUB in Slatina, the attention we have for technology & digitalization of the processes as well as personal growth and training of our people represent the pillars of our business endeavor.

Moreover, we launched a new showroom in Cluj- Napoca, a space that brings together over 25 architectural systems, making the choice process of our customers easier.

Continuing the line of elements that come to facilitate the purchasing process, we encourage our partners to use the B2B platform “My Alumil”, launched in the second part of last year. Thus, the automated system offers the possibility of placing orders in a quick and easy way, visibility on the history of orders, checking stocks, as well as access to the latest news regarding all technical updates of the systems. We are in a continuous dialogue with clients to optimize and improve it, to create a more comfortable and pleasant browsing experience for placing orders. Recently, in September, to be more exact, we started a loyalty program called “Alumilia” that reflects our deep desire to reward our partners for the trust they show us every day. The program is based on a rewarding philosophy, according to which, points can be gained through purchases and then these points can be redeemed directly for gifts. In addition, at the end of the program, there will be a draw in which big prizes can be won.

Honoring our commitments to partners and clients is a priority for us and we trust our team’s ability to respond to all types of situations. We know we still have plenty of things to improve, but what is worth saying is that we are in a good direction. The 26% is impressive and it’s not an exception, what is more important for us is consistency. If we take a look at the last four years, we had steady profit growth year- over-year.

Q: What are your plans for the upcoming years?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: Alumil Romania produces and offers to potential customers from Romania Aluminum profiles at international standards with excellent mechanical and physical features, while also providing assistance and advice on all technical aspects of the products. The main objectives of the company are to maintain market leadership in the production and sale of aluminum profiles in Romania and to focus both on providing innovative, internationally certified products and, from a commercial perspective, on a commercial network improving and expanding. The objectives for the coming years are to increase the market share and improve profitability. In addition to aluminum profiles, the Company offers a wide range of products in the field, such as outdoor systems including pergolas, railings, decking, fences and gates, interior doors, decorative panels, and accessories, an important objective being to increase the market share on the segments mentioned above. All these objectives are based on the vision of Alumil Romania and its parent company from Greece to maintain leadership in the Southeastern Europe markets and to expand on other markets.

To achieve these objectives in the coming years, we will focus on increasing the quality of customer service, on increased promptness in fulfilling orders, and reducing delivery times. These strategic elements have been a priority in recent years, and by improving the existing processes in the coming years, we will manage to achieve new results on these directions. Fulfilling this purpose through our investment in our facilities based in Filipestii de Padure, with high-efficiency equipment. A new stage in this respect is the rethinking of the national distribution network by the creation of regional Hubs which offer increased flexibility in carrying-out out activities at the regional level.

An important success factor for Alumil Romania is the experience of more than 30 years of the parent company from Greece in the Aluminum extrusion field, the research and permanent development of new products and technologies, and the dynamic presence on international markets. Alumil is recognized in Europe as one of the leading suppliers of profile systems for all known architectural applications (windows, doors, facades, skylights, interior partitions), designed, developed, and tested by the Development and Research Department of the Company and certified by the International Institute IFT Rosenheim in Germany, a leading authority in the field. The addition of the new platforms previously mentioned plus the new trend of automation, which we take seriously into account, are the things that will place us in an excellent competitive position in the next year.

Q: The new trend in the economy might be seen as ‘’the green trend’’. That means ESG investing, through friendly investments in the environment, social and so on. How does this new trend affect the demand for your company products?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: Being a constantly growing Aluminium systems company, we believe that economic growth can and must go together with a healthy and safe environment, therefore, an important part of our goals has always been to combine our dynamic activity with ESG investing. We consider that a sustainable future needs to integrate sustainable practices across the entire production process and our aim is to fully meet the needs of our customers and to create top-quality products with high added value, for which we are constantly developing and improving its quality control procedures.

ALUMIL, for a 2nd consecutive year, was included in the list of Greece’s most sustainable companies, proving its focus on the values of sustainable development,circulareconomy,digitaltransformation, and corporate social responsibility.

Quality management and certifications for the activities carried out in Romania, the company implemented and is maintaining an integrated quality, environmental, occupational health, and safety management system.

We remain focused on our vision regarding the improvement of people’s daily life, developing “green” architectural Aluminium systems of top quality and performance that are developed in line with a sustainable approach. Our products equip buildings around the world, contributing to the creation of buildings that provide high energy efficiency and better living conditions.

Passive houses, buildings with energy autonomy and ecological functions represent the future for the construction industry, and companies will have to respond promptly to the demanding requirements for equipping buildings and ensuring high levels of performance. For over a decade we have been developing systems for passive houses, based on sustainable development and circular economy principles. We meet these demands with a range of SUPREME systems that ensure high energy efficiency for advanced thermal insulation. We are also talking about exceptional sound insulation and ease of use, high levels of security, all these features responding to the execution needs of contemporary residences.

Companies will give increasing importance to aspects related to energy economy and recycling processes, and this fact will be reflected in the initiatives that will be undertaken. For us, the environment and its protection have never been secondary, but always a priority.

Q: What is your main message to your clients/partners in terms of challenges and opportunities for the short and medium term?

Mr. MARIUS IONITA: One of the main challenges that the Aluminium industry is facing right now is the energy consumption. Therefore, the group’s integrated Aluminium recycling line enables us to use raw material that is roughly 50% recycled Aluminium, saving huge amounts of energy. It is important to note that Aluminium recycling requires only 5% of the energy needed to produce primary Aluminium. Therefore, recycling Aluminium achieves energy savings of 95%, reducing the environmental footprint of raw material extraction. In terms of opportunities, the era of digitalization is a great moment to achieve again one of our objectives: to make our partner’s life much easier. We will continue to invest in training and helping our partners in their professional development using our expertise and capabilities. Therefore, Architectural Aluminium Academy aims to enhance the theoretical and technical knowledge of the people that work in the field, in order to provide a higher level of services and products to the end-user. We will continue with the sustainability actions together with the research and development in order to keep our mission: to improve the quality of people’s lives by enhancing the performance of their buildings with high-quality products, technology, and aesthetics. We strive to provide personalized solutions and integrated technical services as we believe that innovation is the key to our procedures. Synchronous, we advise and support our customers to embrace, and take advantage of all digitalization tools and trends. These will be the two main pillars of our focus in the short & medium terms.

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