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Looking back with pride

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Apulum stands for tradition, passion, rediscovery and trust. Throughout its over 50-year history, the company has shown great resilience, overcoming all the challenges encountered along the way. Opened in 1970, the Alba Iulia-based company made its first exports in 1976, and in 1991 it made the transition to private ownership. However, 2007 brought along the most important milestone in the company's life, with takeover of its majority stake by Rody Time.

Between 1975-1985, the factory became known for its decorative products, and the artistry of its creative department was highly appreciated at home and abroad, as the company's export markets included countries with a long tradition in decorative porcelain production such as Japan. In 2007, the change in shareholding structure also signaled the transition to a new managerial vision, focusing on ambitious policies, new equip­ment acquisitions and investment programs carried out every year, generating a solid in­crease in production capacity. This has allowed the company to achieve a good coverage of the Romanian market, and make its entry and expand its footprint in foreign markets. At the same time, Apulum's product quality has reached very high levels, being on a par with products from major international manufacturers.
Proud owner Rodica Vasin said:  "Together with my business partner, we have invested a lot of time and money in this company over the years, so that it could reach the current development level. It has been 10 years of deep change for the company, from a struggling business with many debts and poor production quality, to a strong organization, with a portfolio of well-known customers. It has made a name for itself with top-quality products and services, and acting as a responsible company in relation with business partners and employees."
 


Investing in people
It's a matter of pride for the company that over 1,200 families in the area are part of the Apulum family. Those people have helped build the new image of the company, which is more modern, more up-to-date, more professional and more efficiency-oriented.
The company's management is aware that good results can only be achieved with well-trained and dedicated employees, and special attention has been given to staff specialization, which is a must in a fast-changing environ­ment, with new technologies emerging every year.
"Our employees' potential, experience and work passion contribute to increasing the company's efficiency and effectiveness, and help improve the outcome when using other resources," said Rodica Vasin. She added: "These people have stood at our side from the very beginning. Together, we have learned how to manage crisis situations, whether it was the 2007 post-takeover period or the more recent COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected us all, as a company, as shareholders, employees, families… in one word, people. Even if this crisis is not yet behind us, we managed to organize production and, most importantly, secure employee health protection, so that business continuity has never been under threat. We have offered  protection to employees and their jobs, which are a source of income for over 1,200 families."
The younger generations of employees have not been forgotten, either. "Much effort and energy has been put into fostering a new generation of specialists and skilled emplo­yees who are ready to face the rapidly changing market conditions and are capable of adapting and creating new solutions and services employing cutting-edge technology," Rodica Vasin added.

Apulum invests in future success

Apulum has seen strong development in recent years, with over 15 million euros invested in new technologies and automation projects, raising product quality and pro­duc­tion capacity.
The company's production capacity cur­ren­tly exceeds 25,000 tonnes/ year, accounting for over 60 million items per year, making it the largest porcelain product manufacturer in Europe. Those figures are very important, especially when compared to the 2008 production capacity of 7,000 tonnes/year.
One of the medium- and long-term objectives for majority shareholders Rodica Vasin and Alvaro Santini is to help Apulum become a sustainable company by reducing energy consum­ption and using it responsibly.
Other projects for the future focus on green energy production for own consumption, the use of raw materials that are more environ­mentally friendly, as well as on devising a strategy to collect, reuse and dispose of waste materials.

Problems and solutions

Since takeover, the company has encoun­te­red many challenges. Threatened by insolvency in 2007, the following year the company had to deal with the effects of the global finan­cial crisis. Later, in 2016-2018, skilled labor became scarce, while 2020 saw the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, prompting the company's management to change the rules of the game once more, so the company can keep going.
"We have managed to reinvent ourselves every time and find solutions to every problem encountered along the way thanks to our team of professionals, who have been with us all these years and contributed to what Apulum is today," said Rodica Vasin.
Now, Apulum's products are famous all over the world for their design and quality. Moreover, in order to reach its growth objectives, the company plans to launch collector’s items in limited editions, created in-house by its designers. "We want to promote our employees’ craftsmanship and devotion, as a sign of gratitude."
Rodica Vasin added: "As you can see, we have big plans, and more importantly, we are con­fident  that together we, the Apulum Family, will be able to carry them out every time."

This is also available in our print edition of Business Arena.

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