MCA is the largest local producer of sectional doors and rolling shutters, with the largest factory of its kind in the Balkan area.
When and how the MCA Grup business started? Why did you choose the garage doors field?
Mr. Ciprian Oprea, CEO MCA Grup: Choosing the garage doors field was the result of two combining aspects that happily created the conditions for a successful business start, even though we didn’ t know at that time what this attempt will of fer. In detail, there are two main reasons for choosing this market segment: -When we started, this was a totally uncovered niche in our country. We had the chance (luck, really) to be among the first in the market. -The fact that I personally really liked this kind of products – sectional garage doors. Being a novelty at the time, they seemed to be interesting solutions to me and the real challenge was to find the ideal technical solution for each individual case. Finally, I felt then – as I feel now – a deep sense of gratification in offering people what they need. Seeing them satisfied with our products and services really kept me going and made me want to develop the business as much as possible. So, I started the business out of passion 16 years ago, in a one bedroom apartment located on the 6th floor of a building in Bucharest. It was a challenge. We were carrying materials for roller shutters on stairs. Then, we gradually developed. We bought a bigger place – an apartment on the ground floor with a garage, followed eventually by an even bigger one. Initially, me and a friend were the only ones involved. Later, my wife joined the business, therefore the MCA Grup currently has three shareholders. One idea that has helped us grow came from my wife by expanding sales nationwide through a distribution channel.
What strategy did you use when a decrease in building sector became imminent?
The economic crisis was indeed a difficult time for us too. A milestone in the company’s history was the decision to approach other markets. It came naturally after the 2008 economical crash that wiped out the building sector. The first “experiments” with export began in 2009 and, in subsequent years, we established this channel which proved to be more efficient than we anticipated. But, for us, this sales channel is both pretentious and precious, so we insisted. Overall, export products are priced 25% -30% higher, hence profitability is two times higher than in the domestic market, but costs are higher also. The development potential, however, is incomparably higher than in the local market. Another milestone came in 2012, when we introduced the direct sales channel. We have formed our own team of salesmen. The sales volumes also peaked in 2012 at €8.2 million.
“We were carrying materials for roller shutters on stairs”
How have prices changed since 2008? How have Romanian customer’s expectations changed?
Premium market shrank slightly, low market has increased significantly and middle market contracted markedly. Customers moved towards budget solutions. Local market is still immature. People generally focus on price and tend to overlook long lasting quality, for they have not yet experienced a life cycle of this product and don’t know what should be expected from such a product.
“Local market is still immature”
How many garage doors do you sell in Romania? What was the trend in 2014?
In 2013, the company’s production was 6,000 garage doors. Currently, MCA Grup holds 30% of the local market for garage doors and we sell about 4,000 sectional garage doors a year in Romania. In 2014 the market has remained constant; we even estimate a slight increase. However, our garage door sales decreased locally with about 10%, due to diminishing volumes achieved through the distribution network. Although at the moment the market is moving towards budget solutions, the materials used and the services offered by MCA Grup are oriented towards quality and quality doesn’t come at the lowest price. Romanian market demands cheap products, it is immature, the fight goes on price. Instead, Western market demands quality and that suits us better. Therefore, the decrease in domestic distribution was compensated to a great extent by export growth.
What was the the last year’s turnover? Can you estimate the value of local garage door market?
Turnover, at group level, was €8 million in 2013. A rough estimate of the local market would be approximately 12,000 sectional doors per year.
Which of the two segments – residential and industrial – contribute more to turnover?
60% residential, 40% industrial
Which are the main export destinations?
We export consistently in eight countries, mostly from the European Union: Italy, France, Belgium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Germany and Moldova. In 2014, 30% of production was exported.
How do you estimate the garage doors market will develop in the coming year?
If economic growth forecasts come true, then the market will probably increase. We do not expect a dramatic growth, but an increase of 5% -10% is possible.
How many employees does the company have? How well equipped are those seeking a job at MCA?
As a group we have 160 employees in production and sales. We have offices in several cities in the country. We are in touch with over 800 collaborators distributing and installing MCA products in Romania and with 200 dealers abroad. We generally find well-trained people, but if they are not so, we invest in their training, if they prove that this is what they want to do and that are able to do it.
What innovations MCA has to offer to those who want a touch of style and cutting-edge technology?
Our R&D Department is constantly looking for innovative solutions to improve comfort, energy efficiency and design. We have several projects, some released, some still in testing. For example, we launched the prototype Power Door with photovoltaic panels, a garage door that can produce energy for operating its engine or to power other households. This project was awarded Gold Medal for Innovation at the International Technical Fair in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 2012. Another project we presented at several fairs is the Vogue, a stylish door for demanding clients. It’s a premium model, a technical achievement decorated with stainless steel inserts. The latest MCA innovation was launched at the Equip Baie 2014 fair which took place in Paris. It is a pedestrian door for garage doors with no rivets on the outside, glued with adhesives used in the aircraft industry instead. Being an element without any visible rivets, the MCA Lara pedestrian door is an innovation that adds elegance to the entire sectional door.
“I would accelerate the pace!”
Is there room for new players on the market?
There’s always room for new players, but it would become a much more stressful place to be in. However, competition would only sharpen our senses. For us, it is a challenge to outdo ourselves.
What are MCA Grup’s future projects? What do you plan for 2015?
First, we intend to increase export to 75% of turnover in the next five years and we have an ambitious plan in this regard. We aim to enhance the quality, not reduce the prices. Furthermore, we already have ongoing employee development programs and we will continue to invest in both long-time employees and entrants. We plan 15 new projects for 2015, but we will talk about them at the appropriate time.
If you would start the business from scratch this year, would you go down the same road? What would you change?
I would change a lot, firstly about myself. Secondly, I would accelerate the pace!
Mr. Ciprian Oprea’s advice to young people who want to take the path of entrepreneurship:
The three main ingredients that build a business are: pleasure from what you do, confidence to become the best in your field of expertise and ambition to succeed. Money should not be the main motivation, but passion to outdo yourself and others. Money is not really a goal, but a result. Doing a good job is far more important. Money will come as a bonus. Before implementing your business idea, it is important to answer the following questions: -What is your knowledge in this field of expertise? -Are you ready to make this your daily concern? -What are your resources and how can you use them to apply your idea? You should do a market analysis before you begin, but not too extensively, because you may never come to a decision. The plan is very important, it is best to stick with it, provided it is periodically adjusted to market evolution. I also recommend young people not to be afraid of obstacles, to regard them as challenges, opportunities to grow, to learn, to experience. The number and extent of the difficulties will increase with time, contrary to many expectations that the first year is the most difficult.