ROL Group Opens a New Factory

Dec 20, 2014
ROL Group Opens a New Factory

UAB ROL / Statga, the Šiauliai-based metal processing company, is finishing 2014 with a bang. Thanks to a surge in demand for the ergonomic, adjustable-height desks the firm produces, turnover this year will have increased by two thirds by the end of the year. And, as it gets ready to celebrate the opening of its brand new plant tomorrow, the sky’s the limit for this Swedish-owned producer.

“I don’t know if there are many manufacturers in Lithuania whose revenues have shown such an impressive increase this year – from LTL 85 million to LTL 140 million”, says a delighted Rytis Dijokas, director general of ROL / Statga. But just three years ago it was a different story, when sales revenues were only a third of today’s figure, at LTL 47 million.

When asked how they managed to achieve this kind of growth, Mr Dijokas’ answer is simple: demand picked up. Orders have never been higher for the ergonomic desks produced in Šiauliai together with ROL Ergo, who are responsible for their design. Ergonomics in the furniture sector is gaining popularity all over the world. Although desks “that grow with you” have been around for some time, these height-adjustable desks were usually only produced for children. Now, however, this type of desk can be seen in offices the world over, and other venues – training events in conference halls often now use ergonomic desks. “We planned to start growing as soon as we had built the factory. We anticipated growth this year, but not such rapid growth as we have seen”, said Mr Dijokas.

He anticipates growth next year as well, but perhaps less dramatic than that of 2014. Many economies are experiencing only moderate growth, and customers need to get used to the product, which is still relatively novel.
Further down the line, ROL / Statga has ambitious future plans to enter the North American market. However, first customers have to get to know the product and be convinced of its advantages. Based on the company’s experience in Lithuania, this process generally takes about two years.

ROL / Statga’s growth comes on the back of a change of strategy in recent years. Several years ago it was better known as a manufacturer of sales equipment, but now these product lines make up an increasingly small proportion of overall production. Mr Dijokas says that this is the result of global changes – internet commerce is occupying an increasingly larger share of retail sales, fewer new high-street stores are being opened and they are being replaced by virtual ones. As a result, the market for sales equipment is shrinking. Manufacturers who did not anticipate this trend, and reorganise accordingly, are now going bankrupt. Currently, revenue from sales equipment and related products is about 30% at ROL / Statga.

The great relocation

The company’s birthday falls on 11 November. What is more, production at the firm’s brand new, 11,500 sqm facility will begin. And the LTL 25 million investment is set to transform the company’s operations; “up to now our operations have been spread out over three buildings. Production flows were separated and goods travelled unnecessarily long distances. So the new factory will allow us to reduce some of our production costs significantly,” added Mr Dijokas. The two month relocation process will be completed in a couple of weeks, without any interruption to production. The entire stock of existing equipment is being moved, and new, more efficient machinery is being installed. For example, one new painting line, whose assembly is almost complete, has cost about EUR 1 million (LTL 3.45 million). Other automated and robotised production lines have been acquired and are being installed as well.

In addition, employees will benefit from much-improved working conditions. The new building has skylights, meaning there will be sufficient daylight on the shop floor during the day, and modern lighting and ventilation systems have been installed. According to the head of the company, there is no longer a feeling of going to work in dark, dreary premises; compared to the old production floors, the difference is huge. This change is important, seeing as the company employs about 350 people.

Although new and more efficient equipment could facilitate a reduction in staff numbers, Mr Dijokas is confident that large redundancies are unlikely.

“We are looking forward to receiving information from shareholders about new contracts. These would allow us to start on the production of new product lines”, suggests Mr Dijokas.

Until now, the desks produced by the company have been adjusted by means of a lever or electronically. The new desks have been designed to rise gently with minimal effort from the user, and can be adjusted to the desired height without electricity.

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