Engineer Dimitar Ivanov: I am satisfied with the status quoof Cheh Plast in Vratsa.
An interview of Annie Damyanova
I am talking to engineer Dimitar Ivanov on the eve of 15th anniversary of Cheh Plast and his fiftieth anniversary. I didn’t know about both anniversaries and I was pleasantly surprised by these facts, because in these days he is going to be the face of one to one. A down to earth manager, a man in his prime, socially responsible person and father, who could be every child’s dream. I saw all this in him and I hope you can feel it while reading the interview. My first question was whether or not he is going to run for mayor of Vratsa, but the response was negative. And not, that he had no proposals, even three, but his responsibility to the development of the company and "Association for doors, windows and facades" of which he is a chairman, is greater now than anything else.
Engineer Ivanov when is Cheh Plast established? I know you are a Czech citizen. Why Bulgaria?
My parents came to Bulgaria in 1968, so I only was born there, in the townSokolov, a small town 20 km. from Karlovy Vary. I have a Czech passport, because of this fact, but I grew up in Bulgaria. My mother is a Czech, and my father is Bulgarian.
Do you have a double citizenship?
No. The Czech Republic does not permit issue of dual nationality, but I think since last year it is already possible and I may initiated a procedure in preparation of documents for the issuance of Bulgarian passport.
Is this the symbolism in the name of Cheh Plast?
Yes and it is more than clear.
How did you decide to establish the company?
It was in 1996. One of my classmates invited me to his employer for a conversation in which I got an offer to do a workshop for production of woodworks to his company, which in turn was in the furniture industry. I had, for 45 days of specialized training in Varna, to learn how to do carpentry and how to calculate. Then with a small team trained by me, I have created the workshop. The work went very well, even if there were times in which we maintained the furniture part of the company. In 2000, however, the company was in front of a bankruptcy and I decided to separate and make my own company and thus was born Cheh Plast on November 8, 2000.
How many people work in Cheh Plast ?
Together with Cheh Plast Montazhi about 70, but throughout the years we have been and much more. At the peak of the construction we even scheduled three-shifts.
And how many people did you start with at the beginning? The small workshop was the beginning of Cheh Plast.
With six people.
When was the hardest time?
It was not when there was a lot of work, but when there was not: from 2009 until 2012. In 2011, I started talking to the Belgian company Beliprof which is now my current serious contractor. It gave me hope that things would begin running. We then did export but for considerably smaller sites in France and Italy.
What kind of business does Beliprof have?
The company deals only with the installation of window frames and we actually replaced part of their suppliers in Belgium.
Your company works with all major importers of profiles in the country. Is there a preferred brand currently on the market and what is the reason for that?
In PVC to aluminum ratio PVC is preferred and since I work with Rehau, this means that the brand in PVC profiles comes from this company. And in terms of aluminum profiles, the preferred brand is ETEM. This choice I ascribe to the correctness of both companies and their desire to meet all requirements of the customers.
How according to you the Bulgarian chooses his window frames? What is the most important?
There are two types of clients. One of them is the one who has bigger possibilities, he is looking for the best for his house, makes a wise investment and that is in all aspects, not only for the window frames. Another customer is interested exclusively from the price. These are construction companies and unfortunately the majority of people who have no financial resources. If I am in their place I would do the following - will replace one instead of two windows, but it will be with higher profile and class system. What does it mean? According to the statistics, the deadline for window replacement in Bulgaria is fifteen years, in Germany and France, for example it is thirteen and a half. For such period of time a person changes his car a couple of times, and where his comfort of life is obviously breached, one is not looking for the best option, but on the contrary – he is looking for the cheapest window. This means that he tends to give a far greater amount of money for a car from which there is not going to be any household budget savings, but not for a good quality of window frames that will bring comfort to his house and will reduce the costs for heating and cooling. For me this is incomprehensible logic. I am happy when I see that someone wants to change only one window this year, but of a high class and next year to replace another. This means that he really thinks and wants to invest money into something qualitatively. For us, of course, it is not economical, but it gives me satisfaction.
And your business with the facades how's it going?
In administrative buildings the curtain walls are increasingly used for stairwells in the office areas and conservatories. We recently completed in hotel Medicus,in the town of Varshetz, an extension of the lobby bar with a length of 14 meters and 4, 5 meters wide. It was realized with metal construction and curtain walls. There are large retail chains which buildings we have also performed in this way. In Vratsa we have finished six-chamber windows in residential areas and stairwells with curtain walls of two blocks. We have started work with ventilated facades in about 2004 - 2005 and as a matter of fact during the crisis, this is one of the units, which has barely remained unemployed.
How is it doing business in Vratsa? Do you have any support from the municipality? And when I say support, I mean really if theyhelp you. It is clear that the public procurement have some rules but do they encourage you otherwise or ....?
Let me say that it is not an obstacle, which I appreciate as aid. About another support I can not think of such now. But in terms of procurement, we do not compromise our quality, the main criteria in these contracts is "the lowest price". Thus, we can not be among the winners in such auctions. But in general, my opinion is that a good business can be done in Vratsa. I am personally satisfied with the status quo, which Cheh Plast and Dimitar Ivanov have got here.
When a business can be called successful?
If I have to answer pragmatically this is the time when it gives you better profits. But now I contradict to myself because by this logic, I had to be stopped working in 2009. Thank God, however, that passed and weeven feel an increase of the orders in the domestic market. We have been talking with colleagues from the Association and they share the same. It reassures me, even though the main for us is the export.
Speaking of which, you are the president of the Association Bulgarian doors, windows and facades, how many members do you have? Why did you establish it and what are the benefits deriving from it?
We are not many. There are about 70 companies now. We were 130-140, but the good thing is the qualitative and the large companies are the ones that have remained. I can safely say that over 30% of the volume of production of windows in Bulgaria is done by companies, members of the Association. It was founded in 2004 with the idea to help in the work with local and state structures. We’ve attempted to make it a factor of which depends the things in our branch. It is difficult, but I see that more and more our words are heard.
Is there anything specific that happened thanks to your proposal?
Yes, in Ordinance ¹7 for the Energy efficiency of the buildings. The last two changes (in 2009 and 2015) in our field are our proposal. The amendment of the Ordinance published in issue. 27, 2015 of State Gazette "waited" for almost two years. Exactly in this period there were two Ministries - one of regional development and investment projects and this has also slowed the things down. Henceforth: in the end of 2018 - the beginning of 2019 the public buildings, and in 2020, all new buildings must be of a nearly zero energy consumption. This means that we should make a reduction of heat transfer coefficients, respectively, and all other indicators associated with it, because otherwise the change will be seamless. At the beginning of 2020 to be able to say - the ratio is 0.9 or 0.8, because at the moment with lot of debate it is 1,4 for PVC and 1.7for aluminum. Now, around 2016 - 2017, it has to be reduced to 1,1 - 1,2W / m2 K for PVC and respectively 1,3 - 1,4W / m2 K for aluminum. All this should be clearly explained and coordinated with producers and suppliers They will have to invest in new profile systems corresponding to the higher requirements. This is the other direction, we are working on.
What is your dream in this direction?
Firstly the Association - to be able to legalize the registry so that the members in the register to operate as in the Netherlands, Belgium, France. It is necessary a classification to be made, which should be convenient for the customer - for aluminum windows, PVC windows, facades, ventilated facades and glass packages. We have established rules in which, according to equipment, technical staff and turnover the companies are divided into three levels for each type of production. For example, there is an investor who has a site with 10,000 square meters curtain walls where Cech Plast can not perform facade of such size for regular deadline and should hire a company from a higher class. If I want to do this facade, I must answer the requirements for equipment, technical team, etc. and once I meet all these conditions I will be able to submit documents to make it go on a higher level in the register. I dream of the time in which the customers will begin using this register and it is going to be regulated by a statutory document. About the company my dream is to come a time when I will participate less in its management and the direct work. To think about the strategy of development of the company for the next 10 years.
I see that you do a lot with charity and you are sponsoring many events ... Are there any traditions in your family? Why do you do all these?
If you ask me if I have an example from my parents, no, I do not. My parents were not wealthy, I'm from a working-class family. I accept very difficultly the human suffering and the pain of others. My wife and my son are the same. This is the reason. I do it because I want to help as much as I can, of course, and I even feel bad that I can not give more.
Do you have any case that has reached the deepest into your soul? How did you feel then?
I do not feel well and it is because I think I have given a little. There are many of these cases. For me, each case involving health is of this type. But I will share the latter, because it is a young man with a tumor in his leg, who is going to have a very expensive surgery. Also, the story of the young John. I still remember his face. His story has also touched me very much.
Have you got time for your family and for the children?
My son is already big enough. He even started his own business. But frankly, my working day ends after 8 pm even now. I had not spent the time my son and my wife deserved to be spent with them.
Do you have the feeling that you had missed something?
I surely have missed, but these are the issues of transition and they refer to our entire generation.
Have you given everything to your son?
I can not say, but I try to support him financially in his business endeavors. I advise him constantly using my 20 years of business experience.
What do you like doing in your free time? Do you have a favorite place?
I love traveling. Me and my wife, we organize or take part in trips. I'm a fan of Formula 1, so I like watching live races. I love them.
Are you vain?
I’d say yes.
Do you sleep peacefully?
What is more important for you freedom or truth?
Freedom, unless it does not violate or distort the truth.