The automotive market remains an extremely challenging and demanding industry for the lucky few that are able to respond pro-actively and always be one step ahead. Despite the challenges, Klaipėda holds a strong position for automotive businesses established here. One such example – Malmar – an experienced automotive business player has been operating in Klaipėda for over a year now. A family-owned company is putting down its roots and looking for new people to join the team. Dorsan De Buysscher, the owner of Malmar reveals the reasons behind the decision to choose Klaipėda as a location for its second factory.
Dorsan De Buysscher © Malmar
History of Malmar reaches as far as 1947. Back then the company was a foundry in Belgium, today you are a commercial vehicle chassis parts located in four EU countries. Tell us about this shift in history.
In 2005 we took Malmar over from the previous owner and gave it a serious boost – we thoroughly invested, broadened our customer list and in 2006 expanded into Ventspils. This development was the stepping stone of Malmar success story. Later on, in 2012 we opened a new production plant and paint shop in Latvia and in 2018 we decided that it is time to invest in Klaipėda and launched a production line in Klaipėda.
Over the past 10 years, the average growth of Malmar was 16% on a yearly basis.
Malmar operates by an all-in-house principle, meaning that we receive the raw sheets and plates and deliver a painted, assembled product directly to the customer. In fact, we distribute more than 3500 different parts in pristine quality and on time to satisfy not only the customer but the demanding market as well. I believe that the time-tested production system that we have created makes us a strong leader in the market.
Why did you choose to invest in Klaipėda over other cities?
The proximity to Ventspils was the most important thing at the time. We did try another expansion in Bulgaria one year before Klaipėda, but it didn’t go as planned so we had to cease the operations there. One year later we planned another expansion, but that time we considered locations only 2-3 hours away from Ventspils. The idea was to rely on experience in Latvia and have qualified specialists for the general support anytime needed. Also, we kept in mind that all the produced parts will have to travel to Latvia for coating. In the end, we were choosing between two Lithuanian cities – Klaipėda and Šiauliai. We chose to come here, keeping in mind that Klaipėda is a bigger city with broader possibilities and skilled talent pool.
Was the set up easy? What were the challenges that Malmar Lithuania has faced?
When comparing our start in Latvia in 2006 with the beginning of operations in Klaipėda, I can confidently say that starting the business in Klaipėda was very easy. In Klaipėda, we started with new machinery, existing ERP system and support from our experienced Latvian team.
Today the world offers endless possibilities regarding specific materials that our business need. While for example in 2006 we faced major challenges trying to get the supplies that were nowhere to find in the Baltics.
What strengths do you see in Klaipėda for your business?
Even though usually it is not easy to find the right people for the job, Klaipėda presented a pleasant surprise offering specific knowledgeable specialists and higher-level professionals in the automotive business. For example, in Klaipėda, we recently hired a professional with extensive knowledge in ISO standards and IATF certification needed for the automotive industry. Such people are a rare find and here we were able to discover them anyway.
Currently, all our goods need to be coated in Ventspils and later shipped to the logistic centres from Latvia, but once we are ready to start shipping our parts directly from Klaipėda, the port will be of critical importance. The water-way network that Klaipėda port offers is very convenient since we have customers located in Sweden, Finland, Poland, Belgium, Germany, France and Spain.
Factory in Klaipėda © Malmar
As I understand you live in Belgium. How often do you come to the Baltics?
In general, I try to be in the Baltics one week per month. For sure it’s not always easy to combine a visit to both plants in one week, everything depends on case by case basis.
I really enjoy the ease of connectivity between Brussels and Palanga. I usually take a short flight from Brussels to Riga or Copenhagen and from there directly to Palanga. Then only half an hour on the road and I am here. Besides, your international Palanga Airport (PLQ) is exceptional – I have never had to wait in a queue and that makes the journey much more pleasant.
And of course, when I am coming from Ventspils, it is only a few hours long journey. Klaipėda really is in a good location for everything.
Are you currently looking to add new people to the Lithuanian team?
Yes. We are looking for 12 people. At the moment, we have a very interesting open position for welding robot programmer. Also, we are in search of a production planner and all kind of workers for sheet metal related tasks: welders, benders, one grinder and general helpers. More information about available positions you can find here.
We hope that being a growing company with stable production processes and well-known customers will help to build a solid image about Malmar here in Klaipeda.
What are your plans for the next 2-3 years?
Next year we would like to set up new offices in our premises. A bigger step could be a building of our own, but this will highly depend on our future growth here in Klaipėda.