Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans. This maxim applies to companies as well. Every day, many startups are born, but few of them manage to keep their balance over the gaping market abyss. Even being among the ones included in the ranking of the Fortune 500 largest companies is not a guarantee for longevity.
Market competition is like driving on a narrow mountain road, overtaking is risky because you do not know what’s behind the turn. There is no way to foresee the oncoming traffic of circumstances. Companies live as long as their products and services are demanded, and everything is constantly changing. A universal formula for the sustainable development of companies is not found, everyone finds their model for continuous renewal, but the experience of others may be useful in the NEXT 30.
The managers of three companies with a long history share their experience.
Spiros Nomikos, Executive Director of “Solvay Sodi” AD:
Moving Forward with Bold Decisions and Smart Risks
An outdated product or more innovative competition, could take away the future of any business
Mr. Nomikos, Solvay is a company of over a 155-year history and more than 27 000 employees in 62 countries. What are your insights for the company longevity?
In order to live longer, the company should have a clear strategy for a sustainable development. For Solvay we could highlight the continuous strive for excellence and innovation and also: a stable main shareholder, which in our case is the Solvay family, main values like respect for people, ethics in our relations. Solvay Group has a vision for the future and the product portfolio is aligned to it.
How does the business pass through the inevitable crisis of the economic cycles and continues bravely ahead?
The world is full of crises, most of which are inevitable. In its history Solvay Group has suffered crises, confiscations, wars, catastrophes and thinking that we are living in a calm world would be the biggest mistake of the management of a company. That’s why a systematic and continuous assessment of the risks which could affect the company is needed. There are economic risks as well, related for example to a product which is already outdated or a competition which is more innovative. It is of utmost importance to be well informed about the situation and the development of the sales markets. And if we want for a company to live on, bold measures and decisions need to be taken.
Solvay Sodi annotates 22-year presence in Bulgaria as a successor of the plant, founded in 1954. Which moments of the development and succession of this chemical plant, existing for 65 years, could be also exemplary for some other businesses?
A company like ours cannot look out at the future without sustainable development. It should reduce its environmental footprint, maintain good relations with the neighboring communities, take care of its employees and their safety, maintain clear and correct relations with its suppliers, be customer focused. And having stable shareholders, allowing making significant investments in modernization and new equipment.
In your opinion company longevity depends on…
… the capacity of staff, management and shareholders, the strive for excellence and not taking anything for granted.
And it is supported by…
… the values and the vision for the future.
Eng. Delcho Nikolov – Chairperson of the Management Board and Executive Director of Assarel-Medet JSC:
We Have a Vision that Provides Prosperity to the Region
The success of each mining company also depends on the reinvestment in modern technologies
Eng. Nikolov, Assarel-Medet is among the long-standing companies in Bulgaria boasting a history of 55 years. How did you achieve this?
Companies that have been able to persevere on the market since 1989 can indeed be considered long-standing. Numerous mines and ore processing plants closed their operations during the transition towards market economy. As a result, certain towns and villages, and even entire municipalities, lost their livelihood and faced social and economic disaster. In those difficult times, the management of Assarel-Medet was entrusted to a worker-manager team. Ever since, the mine has been thriving and giving life to Panagyurishte. It is our principles that provide us with requisite stability and help us move forward: we have a very coherent definition of success and a precise understanding of what underpins it. Success is simply the result of our consistent policies.
The longevity of a mining company depends on the availability of natural resources. Is nature generous to Assarel-Medet?
If we so decide, we can deplete our current ore deposit by 2025. Instead, we conduct our mining operations not only aiming to satisfy the interests of our shareholders but also those of the region. The longer we are active here, the more welfare can be secured for the local people and economy. This is why we want to make sure that nature is reasonably generous at least until 2045. That being said, nature is practically not that generous in terms of copper head grade. As far as we are aware there is no other mine, apart from Aitik mining company in Sweden, able to sustain effective mining of copper with ore grades as low as ours. This is a global precedent. If nature is not generous enough, the success of any mining company depends on at least two factors: on the one hand, a company has to invest in the uptake of new technologies, state-of-the-art equipment and automated process control. On the other hand, it has to expand its raw material inventory.
What is Assarel’s impact on the region?
Panagyurishte has visibly begun to thrive since the privatization of Assarel-Medet in 1998. The region’s vitality is very easy to see and measure. According to the financial sustainability ratio, published by the Ministry of Finance, Panagyurishte is among the top ten municipalities for 2018. 50% of Assarel’s concession fee is directly channeled into the Municipal budget, accounting for a combined total of 1/3 of it, when other local taxes and charges are also considered. Notably, Assarel’s indirect economic effects on local businesses are not even included in this index.
Fikret İnce, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Alcomet AD:
Company long living depends on management
Continuous improvement is the only way to adapt to change
Mr. Ince, Alcomet has more than 35 years history. What are the conclusions for long life of the company based on your experience as an entrepreneur?
Business is rather social based system than exact science. Natural and social changes have a strong impact on it, and the only way for adaption is through continuous improvement.
How do you maintain the company in good health and the team with a high spirit?
The company is a living organism. We strive to overcome the problems and encourage our employees. There is no ultimate success, because success is an endless process.
You are a 20-year majority owner of the enterprise. What advantages do you find on being an investor in Bulgaria?
In your opinion: Company long living depends on…
Аnd it is based on…