Our business credo is doing what we are really good at

InterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 3/2007

Mr. Bakalov, let us start our talk with the opinion that Bulgarian CNCs step back in quality compared to the foreign ones.

I cannot agree that all Bulgarian CNCs of metal working machines step back in quality from the foreign ones. The least argument in this respect is that ЕТА-17 is 100% Bulgarian owned company and for five years already has been providing 36 months warranty of its products. Can you name any other company in the field, which offers that long warranty period?

All new products developed by the company and offered on the market undergo assessment tests in authorized laboratories in compliance with European directives 73/23/ЕЕС LOW VOLTAGE and 89/336/EEC EMC. All elements and units put in production are of proven origin and come from companies guaranteeing their quality.

Another important issue is the functionality the customer receives for his money.

Regarding the functionality of our products – computer numeric controls (CNC), servo drives for brushless motors and electrical equipment for them – I dare say they possess and perform the whole set of functions offered by the leading companies in the field. We are in close contacts with our customers and in many cases we provide additional functionality according to their requests and proposals, which we later introduce into our products. Most companies offer additional capabilities for their products as paid options. The customer, once having purchased the products owns the full set of functional capabilities embedded in it.

You talk about an open concept in the production of CNCs, which means that your customers maintain to a great extent the products on their own. Is that not anti-market behavior considering the fact that some of your competitors benefit more from the maintenance than from the product price?

The company policy is to provide the customer with maximum possibilities to perform product diagnostics himself thanks to the embedded large set of test programs. Thus, the customer will exactly know what is going on, when a problem occurs. This reduces drastically the possibilities for ungrounded interference and respectively the necessity of maintenance services. In brief, our purpose is not to provide maintenance services and benefit from them but to manufacture and sell more and more reliable and functional products providing at the same time due technical assistance to our customers.

What will you rely on seeking stability and further company growth – are you going to expand your product range of computer numeric controls or will you add other types of products and units to your product line?

We rely on both possibilities – to expand our product range and add new products to our product line. Our objective is to provide our customers with complete electrical equipment for metalworking machines manufactured by ЕТА-17 as much as possible. At present we offer to our customers complete electrical equipment part of it being manufactured by other companies. Sometimes this raises problems and requires serious investments to keep units on stock.

Some colleges from the machine-building field started with modernization of old machines and now already offer new ones – from leading European manufacturers. Do you have any plans in this respect?

Our colleges from the branch dealing with modernization of old machines have broad experience in the field of mechanical assembling. We are experienced in electrical equipment and we do not have experience and resources to do mechanical assembling and maintenance. This is not our objective. We want to do what we are able to and what we are really good at. We received some interesting proposals regarding the new machines. At present, however, it is an issue of potential, market and realization assessment.

Is Bulgarian market too small for a company manufacturing high technology products?

The answer is both yes and no. A large portion of our products is sold on the Bulgarian market as equipment for metalworking machines retrofit. The large manufacturers of CNC machines in Bulgaria practically interrupted their production. From this point of view there is shrinkage of the market. On the other hand, there are already a large number of already manufactured machines that need modernization. Thus, despite the market shrinkage we practically increase the production of equipment.

Is there any potential to realize the CNC machines manufactured in Bulgaria on the markets of the neighboring countries?

ЕТА-17 succeeds in exporting computer numeric controls and servo drives abroad through its representatives. Besides, a part of the products sold on the Bulgarian market are embedded in machines exported abroad.

From your point of view, do Bulgarian manufacturers have chances to make use of the production boom in China – as a possibility for market realization of your products as well as for finding proper partners to start joint production with?

Yes, definitely. Though it can sound strange, ЕТА-17 is maybe the only company in Bulgaria, which has sold a license for the production of electrical drives for brushless motors in China. We received an inquiry from a Chinese company for joint production of our computer numeric controls. We expect to sell a license for them as well.

Keywords: ETA-17