“QFORT, A ROMANIAN PRODUCT THAT WOWS EUROPE - 200 million Euros is the sales target that will be achieved in 10 years just on the PVC thermal insulation joinery segment alone! This will ensure the company’s leadership position in the European community!”
12 years ago, if someone would have been curious to find out information on what Craiova’s “Casa Noastră” company produced, it would have been difficult to obtain a satisfactory answer. In a truly flourishing time for the thermal insulating joinery, nobody cared about a new competitor that was emerging in Oltenia, but which, two years later, was already number 1 in Romania, operating only in Oltenia and Bucharest. As Ștefan Cherciu, the company’s shareholder, remembers, even the representatives of the domestic banking system, which was itself in a pioneering era, were disregarding this investor’s business plans, a man who was daring to predict a 4 million Euros turnover in the first year of operation. However, the following years proved the opposite, placing Casa Noastră and its QFort brand as a quality leader of the local market, also marking an undeniable success in exporting!
Over 4 million Euros in the first year of operation
When the business was started, almost nothing seemed to predict its resounding success, besides, perhaps, the stubbornness of the Oltenian entrepreneur to use management, marketing and strategy methods that were exactly the opposite to the customs of the local market. However, the management’s trust in the success of the company was fully confirmed by its evolution during its first years of operation. Thus, in 2005 - its first full year of operation - sales amounted to 4.45 million Euros and in the next financial year they totalled 11.2 million Euros, in 2007 22.2 million Euros, and in 2008 - the peak of the local market - 27 million Euros. The coherent communication strategy yielded the desired result in a field where marketing concepts were only implemented arbitrarily, the management strategies were almost non-existent and business plans were an absolute rarity. This whole context, improbable for someone familiar with market economy principles, created the premises for a veritable “blue ocean” type context in which the competition became virtually irrelevant and made possible annual growth rates of over 100%. What is truly impressive is that these revenues were achieved by distributing the products in only half of the country, because the company was operating almost exclusively in the southern part of Romania.
Prestigious international suppliers provide an optimal quality of the finished product!
Even though the company was very successful, it did have a number of setbacks. At the end of 2006, due to the fact that the PVC profiles supplier was having financial problems, Casa Noastră had to refocus and was forced to use materials from its own stocks for three months. As the company’s owner said, this was possible due to the attention given to this aspect, thus ensuring that would be no disruptions to deliveries to the final beneficiaries. This unpleasant event led to a change of partners on this segment and the company began a collaboration with the Veka group - world leader in the PVC architectural profiles industry - in April 2007. In 2015, a decision was made to use a second profile, a system from Aluplast. Currently, assemblies made under the QFort brand are created with two Veka series (with a combined ratio of 58%) and an Aluplast profile. With regard to the hardware systems, after 10 years of exclusive collaboration with the Roto group, a decision to begin a partnership with Winkhaus was made in 2014.
A sustainable business cannot exist without a strategy and a management team!
The story of the machinery segment started 12 years ago, when the company’s management team attended the Fensterbau/Frontale exposition with the intention to purchase equipment from one of the top-tier suppliers. The initial investment amounted to 170,000 Euros and was focused on Rotox’s offer, which delivered the first four-head welding machine in Romania and an automated deburring centre. The financial effort was supported by an investment loan of 50,000 Euros, whose contracting proved to be quite an adventure at the time, the complete lack of experience of the banking system in Romania making its risk experts to be susceptible to the company’s optimistic development forecasts, even though they were supported by well-structured business plans. Before long, Rotox became a solid business partner for Casa Noastră and two short years later the German company took part in the development of the general plan for the new production hall in Pielești, a few kilometres from Craiova. Ștefan Cherciu nostalgically remembers the moment when, in 2006, he proposed a new partnership deal to Rotox, which resulted in the purchase of equipment worth 2.3 million Euros, with payment in advance (four fully automated lines for the production of thermal insulating joinery). The investment was well received at the Bavarian fair, all the more since it had been negotiated without the competition’s bids, which prompted many specialists to appreciate the Romanian investor’s dignity and loyalty As far as glass processing is concerned, the technological endowment started in 2007 as a result of a failure to identify capable suppliers on this segment. The amount allocated to machinery was more than 6 million Euros and was intended for the purchase of complete lines from Lisec (including the automated glass sorting system - a complete novelty in Romania), as well as several CNC cutting tables, including a table for cutting laminated glass. One noteworthy fact is that one of the pieces of equipment has the capability to produce 6,000mm by 2,700mm thermal insulated glass.
Summing up, total investments between 2006 and 2008 amounted to 25 million Euros, including a fleet of more than 250 trucks, vans and cars. Over the past few years, including 2016, another 10 million Euros have been added to this amount, thus exceeding the threshold of 35 million Euros! The company aims to massively expand production capabilities through future investments, with negotiations being underway to complete the current production lines and to make new layouts for the manufacturing halls, which will span over 40,000 square meters. In fact, in 2019-2021 there will be a five-fold increase in current production capacity, which amounts to 2,000 frames/day at the moment.