A trip was organized to Liebherr facilities in Bulgaria between 15 and 16 May 2014 within the scope of our Professional Business Trips program. 32 persons from 23 member companies took part in the activity.
Even though the trip turned out to be a bit tiresome since we made it by bus, it was also fun and beneficial. We were generously hosted by Liebherr officials, and we believe bilateral meetings will yield future opportunities for cooperation.
The trip started from our BEYSAD office at Ataşehir, İstanbul, on May 15, Thursday. The event was organized by Motiva Tur Company and Tour Manager Kuthan Ülgen as well as our driver and guide accompanied us and provided support for all our needs.
Each of our members gradually joined us at various locations throughout the first part of our trip along the European side of Istanbul until the city of Edirne. After having lunch in Edirne, we passed through the border gate with excitement and joy.
After our long travel we arrived at our hotel and were warmly greeted by Nevzat Nazif, the Purchasing Official of Liebherr; afterwards, we enjoyed a nice dinner program.
The whole group was very energetic and fully prepared for the next day. Nevzat Nazif accompanied us once again and together we arrived at Liebherr Facilities. We immortalized the warm welcome of the company with a group photo.
Once the photos were taken, Liebherr Bulgaria's Purchasing Manager Dimitar Lajev made an opening speech and an introductory presentation was given. The presentation started with the foundation of Liebherr and provided information about the company's transition to the major appliances sector and its current status. The highlights of the presentation could be listed as follows:
The company, 100% a family enterprise, first started with crane production in 1949 and manufactured its first refrigerator in 1955. The heavy equipment business of the company which stands apart from its refrigerator business boasts a total turnover of EUR9 million and an employee count of 37800.
Their purchases from Turkey has significantly increased lately, especially after Nevzat Nazif, who also attended to us during the trip, started to provide services to the firm (for example, their purchase amounts have gone up to approximately EUR12 million from EUR7-8 million). However, they are keen to increase their turnovers from Turkey even further.
The company has factories at 10 different locations in the world. Their factories in Ochesenhausen, Germany and Marico, Bulgaria manufacture household refrigerators (1 million units and 735 thousand units, respectively) whereas the factories in Lienz, Austria and Malaysia manufacture commercial refrigerators (460 thousand units and 107 thousand units, respectively).
Following the presentation, Burak Özaydemir delivered a short speech in BEYSAD's name. In his speech, Burak Özaydemir gave information about BEYSAD. Afterwards, he delivered the regards of BEYSAD Board Chairman Bahadır Balkır and other Board Members who could not participate in this event, and awarded a plaque to commemorate the visit and to offer our gratitude.
The plaques were awarded by Burak Özaydemir, Hasan Basri Aksu, Hamdi Erem and Murat Fırat to Hristo Georgiev (Manager of Trade), Georgi Damyanliev (Manager of Product Development), Kostadin Trendafilov (Manager of Production), and Gerhard Gruber (Technical Manager)
After this meeting our group toured the facility, during which activity Liebherr officials sincerely told us about their operations and answered our questions.
They have a large and modern factory in a small village of Bulgaria. They prepare many components within their own corporate structure. They have such sections as lathe and leveling, pneumatics, training area, etc., and they have established a system with which they train and raise their own workforce. They manufacture 750 thousand refrigerators annually, and employ a staff of 1600 persons. The company is interested in expanding the factory's capacity. They have established their own logistical system within the limits they have; the railway is 1 km. away from the facility and the factory has its own freight train coaches. They are now trying to sort out their logistical issues through various methods.
It can be said that we encountered a factory where the manufacturing processes were based on the German culture:
- There are charts around which are designed to inform the workers on various subjects (fighting against obesity, benefits of sports activities, etc.);
- Photos taken during activities which were organized to join with the workers and their families are hung on the panels at the entrance.
- Kaizen is predominantly applied in the factory. Many stations are outfitted with "Before/After" charts.
- Employees either bring their own food from home or pay the catering company to provide food for them, like in Europe.
We also observed that the facility is independent from the Company Headquarters in its purchasing decisions as well as various other subjects.
We were offered some wonderful food after the site visit, and then set out to our way home.
We would like to thank all our members who took part in this trip and hope to see them once again in another such activity.