Sorin Poteras, CEO Schaeffler Romania: “We intend to inaugurate a new production hall next year”
“Last year we inaugurated the second R&D center of the company, a modern Schaeffler product testing center, and for next year we intend to inaugurate a new production hall, which was planned by some time,” Sorin Poteras, CEO Schaeffler Romania told Automotive Today.
“The important projects remained according to plans, so we are glad that we will be able to continue our local development strategy. Of course, we need to remain flexible and we will need to adjust our capabilities to the new requirements of the market, both in the Automotive sector and in Industry.”
How have you managed the year 2020 so far in the context of a decrease in demand and production on the Romanian market?
Schaeffler Romania recorded in the first half of the year a turnover increase of 8% compared to the same period in 2019. In the second half of the year we see, unfortunately, a decrease in orders received from our customers – we estimate a decrease of 10% compared to the same period of 2019. These estimates are based on both orders received from our customers and the evolution of the world economy according to current forecasts, but also new projects that Schaeffler Romania has planned and will start in the next period.
How would you describe the evolution of the company in these quarters dominated by uncertainty amid the pandemic?
First of all, it was a situation we have not faced in the past. According to the procedure in such situations, we quickly activated the Crisis Cell and, with the support of the Schaeffler Group’s Crisis Cell for the European region, we quickly defined and implemented protection measures for our employees, both within the company and throughout transport to and from the location. Thus, we managed to continue the activity without completely stopping the activity in the company. There were some production segments temporarily stopped, as in many other companies in the industry, especially those that deliver in the Automotive sector, but with the other segments – about 85% of employees – we continued the activity. Moreover, in an extremely short time, we have extended the Home Office (telework) program to dozens, even hundreds of employees in indirect departments, which has meant intensive hours of work by the company to facilitate, integrate, connect and enable this large number of employees to access Schaeffler systems in their home office. The health and safety of Schaeffler Romania employees were the main priorities throughout this period for the company’s management, and many other measures were implemented, so that we have safer conditions at work: specialized disinfection of common areas, bus disinfection , thermal temperature measuring chambers and disinfectant mats located at the entrance to the company, reorganization of workplaces by Plexiglas separators, limiting the access of visitors / collaborators, etc.
What are the company’s expectations regarding the evolution of the car industry in 2021?
First of all, we will have to take into account how this global health crisis continues to evolve, a crisis that does not seem to end any time soon. From our estimates, based on what we see now, it looks like we will be at most at the same level of orders this year. Unfortunately, the level of pre-pandemic orders will only be reached in 4-5 years, but we must also take into account the evolution of the market and the way in which companies manage to adapt their business model to the current conditions.
What are the challenges you are currently facing? Did you have to resort to cost reductions during this period?
On the Automotive side, the effect of the pandemic was immediately felt, practically all our customers stopped production and so we had to do the same.
On the other hand, the pandemic effect was not very strongly felt on the Industry side, this area being more favored, as many governments continue to support projects for renewable or non-polluting energy sources. Thus, we can continue to benefit from many projects with our customers, such as those operating in the wind energy industry, which essentially supports the company’s activity during this difficult period.
What priorities have you set for relaunching / developing the business in 2021?
As you know, last year we inaugurated the second R&D center of the company, a modern Schaeffler product testing center, and for next year we intend to inaugurate a new production hall, which was planned by some time. The important projects remained according to plans, so we are glad that we will be able to continue our local development strategy. Of course, we need to remain flexible and we will need to adjust our capabilities to the new requirements of the market, both in the Automotive sector and in Industry.