Rock wool from Serbia reached China, Turkey and Azerbaijan, and since August last year, even Saudi Arabia. The increasing factory production is now at 44,000 tons a year, which is the amount sufficient to completely insulate 12,000 average sized houses.
The factory celebrates 40 years of work this month. Namely, it was founded in 1974 under the name of Vunizol and was engaged in rock wool production from its very beginning. The plant was bought in 2005 by the multinational company Knauf Insulation which invested EUR 25 million in the production line modernization.
In an interview with eKapija, Knauf Insulation General Manager for the Balkans, Cyprus and Malta Tihomir Civkaroski talks about export successes, new company plans and energy efficiency of the buildings in Serbia.
eKapija: What would you highlight in the past 40 years of the plant work? What successes are you proud of the most?
- We are proud of the fact that we increase the production and break records year after year. In the 40 years of its existence, besides its name and ownership, the plant changed the mode of operation, turning former Vunizol into a modern factory. It was completely reconstructed in 2007 and equipped with a new production line and environment friendly water and air treatment facility, and, at the same time, the production capacity were increased and the working conditions were improved. Today this company is a significant economic factor in southern Serbia.
eKapija: Are you satisfied with the rock wool and fiberglass sales in 2013?
- Considering that our entire production capacity is sold in advance, we have to be very satisfied. We export over 60% of the production, thus helping the economic growth in Serbia.
It would certainly be better if a great deal of the production stayed in Serbia, because that would mean the public awareness of energy savings and rational consumption was raised. However, people increasingly realize they can make home budget savings by insulating their home properly, thus reducing heating and air conditioning bills.
When it comes to fiberglass, our product is unique on the market for it's been manufactured with patented Ecose Technology, i.e from natural materials and binders with which the environment is abundant. The market recognized these benefits, which reflects on our successful sales.
eKapija: Which countries is Knauf Insulation exporting to?
- Apart from Serbia, we are exporting our products to Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, FYR of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Croatia and Montenegro, as well as to China, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
eKapija: Do you plan on expanding the market?
- The regional market is a priority for us, but whenever the need for rock wool emerges on a distant market, we're more than pleased to take the challenge. That's how the things will be in future as well.
eKapija: You started exporting the rock wool to Saudi Arabia in August last year. How much have you exported so far and what are you experiences with the buyers from this country?
- Our rock wool made a breakthrough when it comes to the use of Serbian products in construction projects in the Near East. Almost 29,000m2 of rock wool is built in flat roofs on industrial and commercial buildings in Saudi Arabia. Our partners in this country have recognized the importance of a good thermal insulation, especially in the areas where the temperature rises up to 50°C and exist fire risks. Rock wool is a perfect material for these purposes.
eKapija: You have been exporting to China for a several years now. What are your future plans for this country?
- I suppose it is a curiosity that a small country like Serbia exports goods to a global exporting giant. Unfortunately, there were a lot of cases of fire breakout in residential and other buildings full of people in China. So, in order to protect people and prevent the damage, the Chinese government made a low about the use of non-combustible insulation materials, like rock wool. By doing this, they gave us the opportunity to increase export to this country.
eKapija: Do you plan on employing more people in the upcoming period?
- Currently we have 130 employees, but given the fact we plan on increasing the production capacity, that number will certainly rise.
eKapija: Serbia has recently adopted the Regulations on Energy Efficiency of Buildings which requires higher energy efficiency in existing and new buildings. Does this increase the demand for Knauf Insulation products?
- The demand is indeed increased thanks to the Regulations on Energy Efficiency in the preparation of which we took a proactive part. Our products have been used in a large number of capital projects in Serbia, so we almost did not feel the crisis. The real results of the application of new Regulations are expected in the following period, especially when it comes to renovation and energy refurbishment.
eKapija: Your company has obtained a certificate of compliance with the requirements for getting energy passports. How many certified engineers do you have? And how many energy passports have you issued to date?
- Our company is on the list of authorized organizations in the newly formed Central Registry of Energy Passports (CREP). Knauf Insulation employs two licensed engineers and has issued one energy passport so far - for a facility in Novi Sad.
eKapija: What will be the focus of your operations in the following period?
- When it comes to production, we will strive to resume our production growth trend, which would automatically lead to the commissioning of new production lines and the creation of new jobs. In the future, we will focus more on fire protection. As for our mission and business philosophy, the priority is to increase energy efficiency and acquire a leading position in this industry on all the markets in our coverage.