From a home based business to exports aboard
“The production is expanding, new products are being introduced. We’ve been risking a lot, but it payed off eventually,” he says, adding that he has achieved it all with the help of his wife Dragana, daughter Gordana and son Goran, all working in production. Dragana’s sister Ljiljana Kojić is handling the company’s administration.
“It is all there now, we are cutting timber, foam, covering furniture,” explains Kojić and adds that finished products are exported to Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM and Serbia. It is buyers who find them.
One of the customers is also the Australian-based Harvey Norman, selling products from the Matić Upholstery on the market in Slovenia. Demir Trivun, a representative of this company, believes that the Gradiška-based company is a trusted partner with quality, flexibility and easy communication as their advantage. Based on his cooperation with several companies in BiH, Trivun sees the lack of skilled labor as a challenge.
“I believe there is a gap in the labor market. Consequently, this could mean a price increase. If this comes true, then prices, currently on the verge of being acceptable, will no longer be competitive, and that would lead to a lesser interest for cooperation with BiH companies.”
Lack of skilled workers is a concern for the Matić Upholstery, as is for many other companies from Gradiška. The Matić Upholstery today employs 74 workers, and plans to increase this number to one hundred in the following year. Upholsterers, carpenters, tailors and sewers are the most common in production. Finding skilled workers is a challenge for the company, so they train them themselves.
Gradiška Mayor Zoran Adžić says that the needs of the private sector for workforce are steadily growing. Municipal services record many unemployed, but the problem is in the mismatch in supply and demand for workers.
“In the coming period, it is necessary to go towards adjusting the education system to the needs of the economy, especially for profiles in certain sectors, such as metal processing, wood processing, textile, IT sector,” says Adžić and adds that new courses are already being introduced in the secondary vocational school, and that students go for practical classes in production after they are done with school.
Employment is one of the priorities of the LID project, 6 million EUR worth EU investment. In the last two years, some 400 jobs in small and medium-sized enterprises were created as a part of the project. Under the EU’s Local Development and Employment Programme, the LID supports the most promising industrial sectors in Bosnia and Herzegovina – agriculture, food, textile, metal and wood industry – and works on creating a better business environment through counseling and co-financing.