A touch of Croatia in a far away land.
As Sergej Novosel Vuckovic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 26th of July, 2018, thankfully, this summer, Croatia has been spared the large-scale fire fatalities which ravaged Dalmatia last year, fires which even crept frighteningly close to the City of Split. Similar devastating fires taking place in Greece have already tragically taken lives this year. But, the current relative peace on the Croatian wildfire scene shouldn’t be any reason to wrongly conclude that Croatia’s invaluable firefighters are now able to kick back and relax to enjoy the summer sun.
Firefighters from continental Croatia have, as the traditional goes, already been deployed to various ”problem areas” along the Adriatic where they remain in standby mode alongside their coastal counterparts. Firefighting vehicles have already been in action, and many vehicles designed for such urgent interventions in Croatia are equipped at Flammifer in Ozalj. The Ozalj-based company deals with the development and design of fire trucks and commercial vehicles, from trucks to boats, the director of the company is Goran Žugec.
“Last year’s season really taught us that fires are a very serious matter and that fire issues should be tackled very systematically, including with the prevention of fire itself through agro-environmental measures or architectural measures on buildings, the appropriate fire-extinguishing techniques, training, and fire retraining techniques, as well as the analysis of past seasons and past fires. As for this season and fires in open spaces, I’ve got the impression that we’ve had enough rain to maintain the vegetation and keep it green lush, resistant to fire. The and hot end of summer could dry up this lush vegetation and make it less resistant to fire,” stated Žugec, who Poslovni Dnenvik ironically spoke to just one day before the horrendous fires struck and devastated parts of Greece.
His company found its place in the world of firefighting apparatus production strengthened that after dealing with the production of other items. “With the help of the research and development department, in which we have 10 engineers, we’re able to create an individual approach to each user create a product that will give an experience to appreciate, and completely satisfy the needs of that user,” said Žugec, whose company specialises in metal processing, aluminum, inox, and black steel.
Although all firefighting equipment has the same overall purpose – to control and extinguish flames, not all vehicles are the same and their configuration depends on the type of terrain, its purpose, and the techniques it uses.
“Vehicles used in fire fighting in cities are different from the fire extinguishing systems used for open spaces, the vehicles for Dalmatia aren’t the same as those for Slavonia. The fire engines need to have enough motor power, the dimensions have to go well with the terrain on which they’re being used, and there needs to be water to extinguish flames, with eventual foaming which really helps with extinguishing flames, a normal water pump and a high pressure pump, fire hoses, fire extinguishers and firefighting equipment, enough space to accommodate the firefighters and of course, a well-trained crew who will use the available techniques in the proper way,” explained Flammifier’s director.
Flammable trucks with “keys in hand” cost anywhere from 300,000 kuna to 3 million kuna, and the price depends on the amount of equipment it boasts, and on its “combat” performance.
Every effort is being made to increase domestic products, giving Croatian components the advantage.
”What I can’t get here, however, is ordered from abroad. In Ozalj, they know what the qualities and the features of their product(s) are.
Our comparative advantages are mostly reflected in the fact that we’re a manufacturing company that develops and sells its products itself. In the business relationship of the user with such a company, the user gets complete service or product according to their requirements in direct communication with the designer and the manufacturer, all in once place,” states Žugec when referring to his business policy, pointing out that he’s not worried about the competition. He says that this is healthy, that it’s good for them to develop new solutions at affordable prices, and that such moves are good for both buyers, and, in the long run, for Flammifer as a supplier.
One of these Ozalj designed and made products, which can be seen along the coast, as well as on rivers in case of flooding, is a vessel which was proudly presented at this year’s Nautical Fair in Zagreb.
“The most important product from this program is the FFB 640 RPA ramp, which is for flood interventions on rivers affected by flooding as we saw this spring. The FFB 670 is an electric boat. It’s a tourist boat for the transportation of twelve passengers with an electric drive and solar panels on the roof. We have a dozen models of 4.3 to 10 metres in the boat’s program,” added Žugec. The fire trucks from Ozalj in service are not only operating here in Croatia, they have also found their places abroad, leading the company to be able to rightfully boast about good exports to countries across the region and to the EU.
“We’re currently present in Arab countries through the EU’s help, and now, riding on the wings of our football team’s success, we’re intensively working to substantially improve their export performance through increased marketing activities, and one of our activities was the translation of our advertising material into Russian, Ukrainian, and German,” the director of the company noted.
With such an approach the revenue growth you want is within reach. The company has 52 employees, is operating in a stable manner, and is generating revenues of 20 to 30 million kuna per year.
Žugec acknowledges that as yet, the company doesn’t achieve high profits, but they’re constantly investing in new technology and the further development of worker potential. Workforce problems do exist but the company isn’t really struggling with it. Even the burning and eternal problem of the infamous Croatian bureaucracy and red tape isn’t really significant in this scenario.
“We’ve had no bad experiences with bureaucracy that would be worth mentioning, with regard to tax policy, tax deductions on pay are always welcome. As for the staff, we have to pay close attention to workforce issues just like all manufacturing companies, but our open approach allows for such problems to be solvable. We’re open for cooperation and we’re constantly looking for manufacturing workers and engineers, imaginative people who are hungry for new challenges and new knowledge,” Goran Žugec stated.