M-Profil, a thriving Croatia-based company specialising in the production of metal building components, has experienced fifteen years of uninterrupted growth. Sales and Marketing Director Ms Sandra Bojić talks to Gabrielle Brown about M-Profil’s commitment to quality and innovation, and its plans to branch out into the Western European market.
“Time is money, and we‘re ready to respond at the shortest notice. Even though we are large, we are still ‘small’! We are a limited company, so there is very little bureaucracy involved in decision making. So, we can save our customers money by ensuring short delivery times and getting projects underway fairly quickly.” Ms Bojić
Like many South Eastern European countries the last decade saw a period of boom for the Croatian construction industry, with significant development in the cities and as more and more holidaymakers were drawn to the country. Zabok-based M-Profil, a manufacturer of prefabricated metal construction components used in the building of shopping centres, warehouses, sports premises, residential and administrative developments, to name but a few, was founded in 1995 and has gone from strength to strength since. “The business has experienced fairly extensive growth over the last fifteen years, and our products and services have evolved also. Initially we sold and assembled roofs; now our expertise is in providing a range of products including steel constructions, metal sheets and insulated sandwich panels, and we offer a tailor-made service so our products can be installed directly on the building site” explains Ms Bojić.
High Standards and Innovation
M-Profil has grown from being a four-man outfit to a company of 520 employees. Despite now being considered large in Croatia, the company’s mission is to maintain the same standards and level of quality that is perhaps more easily accomplished across smaller operations. Ms Bojić describes how quality is achieved at M-Profil: “We have invested and advanced the technology used in our production for steel structures and sandwich panels. We’ve also successfully applied ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 to quality assurance control systems.” Ongoing training for staff is also central to M-Profil’s culture, ensuring they have a sound understanding of customers’ needs and are up-to-date with the latest developments in the market.
Innovation also plays a large part in M-Profil’s corporate strategy. “We are contributing to a European project to develop panel technology as much as possible – and our task is to provide samples and disseminate our knowledge of the current and evolving technologies involved.” Ms Bojić explained also that M-Profil was preparing for an event where this knowledge will be shared amongst colleagues across the construction industry in the region – the first event of its kind.
A Flexible and Comprehensive Service
M-Profil offers its clients a ‘turn-key solution’, meaning the quality service is as important as the product. I asked Ms Bojić to describe how this concept originated: “As the demand for steel products expanded we soon realised that we would have to expand our operations. We invested in neighbouring countries where labour costs were lower, and we acquired companies that had production facilities that would complement our range. So today we can offer a complete solution to customers.” Under M-Profil’s umbrella are six companies that together offer customers a comprehensive range of products and services, covering fieldwork, concrete, asphalt, the erection of steel structures and installing sandwich panels for walls and roofs. Clients with existing projects can have their building constructed to specified requirements or M-Profil can plan and undertake the entire project on the client’s behalf.
Providing such a versatile range of products and services allows M-Profil to quickly adapt to meet the market’s demands. “We are considered to be lucky in a way because when the Croatian construction industry in Croatia was growing we were growing too. And the investments that we made in neighbouring countries opened new markets for us and made it possible for us to quickly and efficiently react to customers’ needs, not only in Croatia but also in the neighbouring countries.”
Equally, being agile suits the current market state which, although demand might not be growing at the pace it was, still comprises customers who see the benefits of going to one customer who can provide them with an all-inclusive service, and deliver the goods quickly. “Time is money, and we‘re ready to respond at the shortest notice. Even though we are large, we are still ‘small’! We are a limited company, so there is very little bureaucracy involved in decision making. So, we can save our customers money by ensuring short delivery times and getting projects underway fairly quickly.”
Developing Innovative Products
M-Profil constantly monitors new products being produced and launched around Europe to assess the viability of producing something similar and taking it to market in Croatia. They are currently bringing to market a new insulation product BENTOTEX, a geo-synthetic clay liner (GCL) which Ms Bojić explains has highly developed properties yet remains cost-effective. It is produced at M-Profil’s facilities in Serbia and the company is in the process of promoting it throughout Croatia.
However, it’s the steel construction products that remain the most profitable for M-Profil and they are likely to do so for the foreseeable future. “The real-estate agents predicted that the expansion in the construction industry is set to continue in Croatia. Here in the capital Zagreb we have seen considerable expansion, but there is still a lot of room to expand elsewhere in other cities, and then later to Bosnia and Serbia. There is plenty of room for growth.”
M-Profil, while happy to continue developing the Croatian market, intend to broaden their appeal to meet the demand outside South-Eastern Europe. “Over the last ten years the real-estate market in Croatia has flourished, definitely. But two years ago we decided that the mass market is not enough for us strategically – we have to find other opportunities. We have to place our products in Western Europe with more competitive prices.”
In preparation for taking this step M-Profil is in the process of acquiring certification in production standards not yet enforced in Croatia but obligatory elsewhere in Europe. Their aspirations are perhaps a little more modest than at the beginning of the millennium, but they are positive nonetheless. “We hope to continue to grow. But yes, maybe at a lesser rate than over the last ten years.” At any rate, M-Profil’s focus and unhindered enthusiasm are an accomplishment in themselves.