Interview with Mr. Esad Jakubovic, general manager of “Izazov”
Furniture factory “Izazov” has been operating since 1996. The company has been expanding its operations significantly in recent years both on the local and export markets, and invested
into new equipment to become even more competitive, thanks to finance from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and support from the European Union.
Esad Jakubović, general manager of “Izazov”, tell us more about his work and the company’s success.
- The furniture factory “Izazov” has been operating since 1996. What did the course of its development look like since the moment it was founded?
The company was first dealing with primary wood processing, before the first drying facility was installed at the beginning of 2000, which was a basis to start with final wood processing. The first CNC machine was purchased in 2002 and investments in the latest technology have continued ever since. Aside from technology, the company constantly invests in education of new and existing workers, as well as in product design.
Aside from production, “Izazov” d.o.o. also invests to expand its retail and wholesale network, and now it owns three retail stores and sells its products to almost all major furniture distributors in BiH, a large part of which is exported to the surrounding and Western European countries.
- Your distribution network expands throughout the territory of BiH and you export your products to the countries of the region, as well as to European market. Are you satisfied with the results you have achieved on the local and foreign markets?
The sales process on the local and foreign markets has been progressing gradually through different phases. First, we “conquered” the local market, and then we could easily place our products on foreign markets as well. It is only by joining the foreign markets that you can see your real value and whether your products are good enough. The easiest way to evaluate your products is to present them at international fairs. In order to sell your products abroad, you have to be competitive when it comes to quality, design, prices and delivery deadlines. If you don’t respect that, you cannot export your products.
For more than 10 years now, our company has been exporting its products to Montenegro, where we registered a growing demand for our products. Aside from Montenegro, we also export our products to Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and other countries of Western Europe, where we also registered a growth in the sales. We will register a growth in exports by approximately 80 percent this year. We will certainly try to keep this trend in the year of 2018 too.
- How important is it for you to invest in new production technologies and to keep up with European standards?
Investing in new production technologies is essential for a company’s growth and development, aside from investing in employees and product design and quality. No product of good quality can be made without using the latest technology; otherwise, a product is not competitive on the market and its quality is also questionable.
- You are one of the BiH companies that has benefitted from the support of the EBRD and the EU through the Project for supporting competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH-SME-CSF), which helps the small and medium enterprises to make the necessary upgrades of production facilities and comply with EU directives in the fields of environmental protection, occupational health and safety and product quality and safety. How did this improve your business and increased your competitiveness on the EU market?
With support from the EBRD and the EU, we purchased two modern CNC machines and thus upgraded the qualify of our products, increased the productivity, reduced the consumption of processed materials (wood) and protected the employees in a way that all operations that might endanger the workers’ health (injuries) are now completed by CNC machines. By introducing these machines, we also managed to improve the design of our products as well as their competitiveness on both the local and foreign markets. All of this will eventually result in a growing production and profit of the company.
- How successful is your company? What are you particularly proud of?
The figures confirm our success: we’ve more than 12,000 satisfied customers, more than 50 partners, more than 5,000 finished products, 127 certificates and more than 100 employees.
I am proud of our approximately 140 satisfied employees of this company, who made it possible for us to constantly grow and progress. I am proud of the fact that we export more than a third of our products and, given our quality, design and prices, we are unable to meet the needs of all of our customers as their demands exceed our production capacities. I am proud of the fact that we have a unique design of our products, we are distinctive on the market, we are leaders in the production of this kind of furniture and we have a number of satisfied customers who recognized our efforts in the process of production.
- What kind of trends are currently present on the EU market when it comes to furniture production?
There are several trends in furniture production. Customers primarily want quality and environmentally acceptable products. They want the products to be entirely made of wood in combination with medium density fiberboards with flat lines, which are adjusted to the increasing demands of end users
- What do you find important for a company to survive on our market?
Continuous education and specialization for the employees. Investing in the production by purchasing the latest machines, in order to be competitive on the market, as well as investing in the development of new products and keeping up with the trends and demands for certain products. Quality is not an issue here, it is implied because you cannot grow or develop without quality products.
- What are your plans for further development of business on the local, regional and European markets?
When it comes to production, we plan to build a new production facility on the surface of up to 1,500 square meters next year, which will be used for the production of upholstered furniture. Also, we are collecting the necessary documentation for construction of a modern sales facility on the surface of approximately 4,000 square meters, which will be built in Tuzla. The works on construction are scheduled to begin at the beginning of the next year. We also plan to purchase new machines next year, in order to increase the production in accordance with growing demands for our products. As far as the export is concerned, we plan to keep up with the trend of increasing the exports of both the existing and new products.
- Who is Esad Jakubovic privately? How do you spend your free time, do you have some hobbies?
My name is Esad Jakubovic and I was born on May 2, 1965. I graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo. I am a married father of two children, my daughter Emina and son Tarik. Emina graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo, she is currently a post-graduate student, while Tarik is in the fourth grade of the Grammar School in Tuzla. I like fishing and I that is how I spend all of my free time (if any). This year, I managed to catch a 40-kilogram catfish in the Snjeznica Lake. Aside from fishing, I also like photography, nature and everything related to it.
- In your opinion, who is a successful manager? What makes a successful manager from your point of view?
I think it is hard to define a successful manager. However, if a person really wants to be successful in what he does, all he has to do is work hardly, constantly and continuously. It is only by hard work that you can achieve your goals. Of course, you also need selfless help of your family and coworkers, you have to have a clear goal and vision of the growth and development of your company, you should not get into fraudulent activities and you should not endanger anyone in your work.