Who would have thought that Transylvania’s lands are where the oldest Romanian home earthenware factory is hidden and that is also where millions of plates and trays are annually produced. Although it doesn’t seem imposing from the outside, Cesiro spreads on approximately 4 ha and has around 1.600 employees. That is how it can achieve over 48 million ceramics objects made each year.
Founded in 1957 in Sighişoara, CESIRO home earthenware and faience factory continues the ceramics tradition that is specific to the culture and spirituality of Transylvania, one of the first Romanian societies of this field. The archeological discoveries of Sighişoara prove that the science of clay processing was found here, beginning from the first millennium before Christ. The name of CESIRO – Ceramics, Sighişoara, Romania – was given on January 1st 1991, once the place detached from the Entreprise of Glass and Faience Sighişoara. The technical endowment of the time was the same as it had been in the first years, with improvements brought only by innovation and self equipping in what ceramics processing is concerned and less through the acquisition of performance machinery and technologies that could ease the actual flux of the technological process.
The ’90s meant a turning point for Cesiro, when the company was privatized through the MEBO method, that meant that the company’s employees were the first in line to become stakeholders. Thus, the Administration Council was born, holding approximately 60% of the company’s shares. The Council still guides the company’s trajectory and a great part of the old employees continue to be involved in the company’s activity right now. If before 1990, more than 80% of the factory’s production was exclusively destined for internal consuming and only an insignificant percent was exported, today the situation is reverted and Cesiro has become the home earthenware supplier for almost the entire Europe and a market leader in France and the Netherlands. More than that, out of the 15% destined for local consuming, over 60% goes to the great commercial networks such as Carrefour and Auchan. Thus, after the privatization, the external solicitations constantly grew and the main reasons that led to these results were the special design, the flexibility towards clients and the precise and always on schedule deliveries. The same results have also convinced the factory’s Administration Council to extend the productivity halls and beginning with 1990 to the day, no year has passed without a major investment of around 1 million euro.
The ovens for the burning of ceramics have always represented a priority for the company, the heart of the factory in a certain way. Energetic efficiency was gained through investments in performance machinery of the latest generation and that has translated in financial advantages that can later be invested in quality raw material. They have never detached from this industry and they haven’t left the Sighişoara lands due to the affection felt for the place and more than that, because this kind of business can’t be moved very easily. The grand machinery is difficult to transport and remote managing is also a great hardship so this convinced the company to develop only locally. Actually, Sighişoara is a place with great potential, a prosperous place for business. More than that, the working force comes from the neighboring areas, old industrial cores that have unfortunately come to an end but that still have qualified people, willing to work. Today, Cesiro can be seen on the shelves of stores such as Carrefour, Tesco and Ikea both inside the country and in other 27 locations outside of Romania. Despite this, only a few costumers know about this detail because there is no clear marking on the products that can show the country of origin.
And the story still continues. Each year means a step forward for Cesiro and taking part in famous foreign fairs has constantly helped them to go onward. And in order to fit the requests and changes that come from their clients, Cesiro always gets to shape the clay so that everybody is happy. That is how plates, cups, bowls, but also tea pots and vases, all of them made in an unmatched chromatic palette, bring the admiration of everybody who gets to know them. Besides, the series of colourful glazes is their main trump card, what gives them uniqueness and differentiates them from their competitors. The fine glaze, but also the price of the products (Cesiro makes table ceramics with low to average prices) because this earthenware is destined for home usage. Although it has faced difficulties in what their Oriental competitors are concerned, more precisely China, a market that is a great nuisance for many entrepreneurs, ceramics still is one of the consumers’ favourite matters. Truth be told, a certain balance has been born in the last years and home earthenware has won a steady place in the ranking of the matters used for dishes. Potter craftsmen who are extremely gifted, who give shape and colour, masters who sit in front of the hot ovens, but also artisans led by a man who is proud to be Romanian and from Sighişoara. He lives, works and learns here, in a flawless place. He is Aurelian Voia, the General Manager of Cesiro S.A. and he tells us: “In 1991, Romanians bought our plates and only 10% were exported. Today, things seem to be a little different, the situation is completely reverted so outside the country’s borders, the requests are much higher. We must be proud of this but everything is made with great care, with work and a great effort from everybody. In the same time, we face the Chinese offers, always cheap. Nevertheless, whomever once bought the clay of Sighişoara comes back and always buys some more.”
While renowned factories from Italy or Spain have closed, one of the greatest European factories that succeeded in resisting change and adapted to the market’s latest requests finishes the year in profit. A little one, it’s true, but it symbolizes a growth and not a regression. Moreover, the turnover for 2014 is 10% bigger than the one for the last year and this can only please the company’s leaders. Even if we have noticed ambitious investors that have succeeded in bringing the pride of being Romanian over the borders, the stakeholders have one single grief – the big expenses for energy – and they hope that it can somewhere be stopped so that the internal production can be stimulated.