The Swiss company Belimed, a leading producer of cleaning and sterilization equipment for the healthcare, pharmaceutical and laboratory sectors, began construction of a new factory in Grosuplje this October. The new premises spanning 7,500 square meters will be three times larger than the existing factory. The total investment including the technological equipment will amount to13 million euros. The new facilities should commence production by the autumn of 2012.
Interestingly, Switzerland intends to increase its production capacities in Slovenia to an even greater degree than originally planned. The reason behind the decision is closely linked to the current European financial woes. As the Swiss franc becomes more and more expensive, companies are relocating their production from Switzerland to the eurozone.
Yet, being in the eurozone is not enough to attract new investments. So what are the other reasons behind the company's decision to expand its capacities to Slovenia rather than one of three other locations in Switzerland and Germany? We spoke with Belimed Slovenia's director Matjaž Zupančič.
What would you say is Slovenia's key competitive advantage?
Zupančič: Its people. They have a high level of skills and commitment. They are really dedicated to their job and the company. It's no problem to get the job done even outside normal working hours. People are willing to postpone their holidays or stay in the factory during the weekend if needed. That is not as normal in other Western European countries as one would expect.
What about labour costs?
Zupančič: Relatively low labour costs are one of the reasons why Belimed is increasing its capacities in Slovenia. This is an advantage especially when it comes to highly skilled work and engineers. We performed an internal analysis within the corporation. The costs in Germany are twice as high as in Slovenia. Although German is still substantially more advantageous than Switzerland, surprisingly the costs in Switzerland are lower than in Germany.
Why did Belimed come to Slovenia in the first place? Because of the strong local pharmaceutical industry?
Zupančič: Definitely not. The local company Kovinostroj has been cooperating with the German firm Netzsch-Newamatic for decades. In 1991, the partners formed a joint venture in Grosuplje and in 1998 Belimed took over both the German company and its joint venture in Slovenia. To cut a long story short, the partnership worked well and resulted in the full presence of Belimed in Grosuplje. And finally, I should stress that we ship our programmes worldwide.
Zupančič: For example the large washing machines for the pharmaceutical industry. Belimed Slovenia is now one of company's four competitive centres. We do everything ourselves, from A to Z: from complete development to the final product.