Tuesday, 04 May 2010 08:03
Having created cutting-edge technological complex, Biazet S.A. became one of the largest Polish producers of small domestic appliances, such as vacuum cleaners and coffee makers, marketed under by Philips under their brand name. Apart from specializing in engineering and manufacturing, Biazet’s corporate activity also revolves around leasing of commercial, office, production and storage facilities. Biazet has proved to be a reliable business partner as well as highly efficient company which is focused on improvement and long-term growth. Written by Anna Chudzik
Transformed into a giant
The beginnings of the company date back to 1970 when it was established as a manufacturer of wire-wound TV components in Białystok. Among the breakthrough moments in the company’s development one can enumerate the introduction of the first ignition coil in 1985 and the first TV set in 1988. The period between 1990 and 1997 was fraught with difficulties because the political transformation put numerous enterprises at a disadvantage. The situation decreased Biazet’s competitiveness in the market, made it reduce the number of employees and also sell off a substantial portion of its assets. In 1994 Biazet finally transformed from a state-owned enterprise into a private joint-stock company with majority of private shareholders, but the date that particularly came down in the history of the company was 1997, when it started its cooperation with Philips, which has yielded best results to date. Thanks to experience, know-how, willingness to improve and usage of the latest organizational and business methods, Biazet became a successful modern enterprise and one of the biggest employers in the region.
Popular products for international corporations
Biazet specializes in engineering and producing electrical equipment, mainly small household appliances and electrical components for Philips Consumer Lifestyles, Philips Consumer Luminaires and Eaton Electric. Thanks to over ten-year cooperation with Philips, which is an international concern, Biazet learnt how to improve, raise quality standards and optimize the costs. What actually makes the company’s products popular among its customers is the ability to combine high quality as well as world-class level of service, typical for the “old” EU and relatively low costs of production, typical for the “new” EU or the “Low Costs” countries, which are characterized by the production flexibility (quick adjustments to changes and very short planning horizon). Biazet is renowned as a reliable partner and a flexible enterprise anticipating customers’ needs. Currently, the products assembled by Biazet for Philips are for example vacuum cleaners (Specialist, Universe and Mobilo), drip-filter coffee makers (Essence, Gaia, Basic), and Senseo II coffee maker. As Adam Morawski, President and CEO at Biazet S.A. claims, one of the company’s main priorities nowadays is staying with the always developing Senseo and Living Color (a lamp series) product lines, as these two Philips flagship products identify Biazet as a key supplier. The other priority is to develop the customer portfolio and free from overdependence on one customer, thereby expanding the range of customers while developing the Philips business. Since all Biazet’s products are earmarked for international corporations, the company strives to win new customers also among ones.
Courageous decisions as a source of success
Until recently Biazet has still been burdened with the complexes of the 90’s. Management focus was on cutting costs and avoiding commitments and even minimal risk at all cost. Apart from that, Biazet was a subcontractor to Philips for many years, supplying the workforce, the operators or the customer’s production lines and process. Today it is recognized as an OEM and Contract Manufacturer, depending on the specific product line. The source of Biazet’s success can be discerned primarily in courageous decisions and willingness to develop, which is explained by Mr Morawski in the following way: “In 2007, when I had joined the company, we took a hard look at our 2005/06 strategy and decided that bold actions had to be made in order to meet the objectives we had set forth for the years 2007-2010. The most key decision was to start investing into new competences before a return was ensured, rather than focus on cutting costs down to the bare bone and avoiding all risks at all cost. We have also significantly changed our corporate culture (…), thus started believing that by working together as a dedicated team we can make it happen, even if calculated risks must be taken. From a hierarchically organized company, authoritatively micro-managed by its former top executive, we became a project-based organization, fostering teamwork and seeing our leaders’ role more as coaches than rulers. This has helped to free up vast amounts of motivation and responsibility among rank and file, consequently enabling our successes.” Within just two years, Biazet has developed a number of key competences, especially in the engineering, manufacturing, logistics, and project management areas. Today, Biazet can offer world-class service, extreme flexibility, very short lead times, and creative, sound customer-focused solutions at very competitive prices. It has grown from a subcontractor, to an OEM company, more than doubling its blue collar workforce and increasing sales more than sevenfold. Biazet, assisted by one of the world’s top Lean consultant, is currently going through a comprehensive Lean Manufacturing deployment, in order to further optimize our flexibility, quality and costs.
Team spirit and can-do culture
The success of the company would not have been possible without the well-coordinated group of people working for the common goal. As admitted by Mr Morawski, the staff, which fills him with pride, constitutes Biazet’s strategic potential. Over the last two years of the rapid growth journey, Biazet has seasoned competent and creative staff as well as can-do corporate culture. The vision of the company focuses mainly on the point: “From concept to market – we make it happen.” Currently Biazet employs approximately 1100 production workers and 115 white-collar and administrative ones (December 2009). What favors the good atmosphere at work are modernized production lines as well as flexible working hours. As for the first factor, in 2009 Biazet launched the first line which complies with Lean Manufacturing system, thus occupying less space and being effective and comfortable to operate for employees. The company is willing to improve the line and also modernize the remaining ones. When it comes to the other factor, the President explains that “flex time is but one method for growing employee loyalty, as it permits a more stable crew, paid at a flat level throughout the year, while our orders during the same time vary dramatically.” People-focus is a critically important element in the company’s strategy – “We focus on developing good relationships with our employees, on growing their competence, helping them mature and grow into ever more challenging and demanding positions,” adds Mr Morawski and continuous, “I also want us to be recognized as a responsible, people-oriented employer, with whom one can have a stable future as well as intense development and growth. Over the past two years, we have been on a pretty wild ride and I would like the labor market to recognize that with Biazet one can grow better and work in a more exciting environment than with any other company in our region.”
Oriented towards investments
The company strives to invest into future, which means developing specific competences, recognized by Biazet as critical growth factors in the industry. It is also willing to offer its customers ever more mature and comprehensive solutions and even wider service. In some ways the company is going against the fashionable trend of outsourcing by acquiring what others want to outsource, as well as integrating functions that have been purchased from third parties before. Apart from widening the offer range, Biazet plans the investment into its own plastic injection molding equipment, which would reduce the costs of production and make the company independent of some subcontractors. The next major step is the expansion of the commercial service centre. Biazet is already an owner of the commercial, service and office facilities, which are to be revitalized and widened to include a new multidimensional complex.
More things to be proud of
The company’s mission is to provide word-class engineering, production, and property management services. Always focusing on a stable and high level of quality, the company received the ISO 9001:2000 certificate in 2001 and is at the time of implementing ISO 14001 norm, which is to prove that the company’s activities minimize the risk of negative impact on the environment. Biazet means quality, which is proven by the popularity it enjoys among its customers. However, the company has been rewarded with numerous awards and distinctions, which additionally asserts its rank. Among the most recent distinctions there is the Business Gazelle award (the 10th place in Poland and the 1st in the Podlasie province), which Biazet has been receiving every single year since 2005. Over the last few years, it has also been recognized several times with the Philips Supplier Award. This year it has been awarded by the Forbes magazine with Diamonds (Diamenty) distinction.