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Window of Opportunity - Sonarol

SONAROL from Jedwabne (Voivodeship of Podlassia) is a brand duly recognised for top quality window and door joinery as well as Styrofoam production. The business has operated for only 13 years now and already managed to join the leaders of middle-size enterprise in Poland. Decisive factors? Thoughtful investment and entrepreneurial savvy. Evidence? Recently awarded prizes, Gazela Biznesu (Business Gazelle) and Diament “Forbesa” (“Forbes” Diamond). SONAROL’s short and yet thrilling track record is to be found below.

From Seed…
SONAROL came into being in 1997. However modest its beginnings (it was a warehouse at first), the business got off to a flying start almost immediately. As is well known, the economy in Podlassia is based on agriculture. No wonder, then, that SONAROL decided to cater for farmers. Hence the idea to manufacture live-stock tanks and spare parts for farming machinery. The decision proved a success story as it coincided with the dynamic growth of the dairy industry. Before long the company operated at full steam. However, its competitors also jumped at the opportunity, which resulted in the market being quickly saturated. Thus, SONAROL took a decision to diversify its offer in 2000. The business purchased 10 acres of built-up land in Jedwabne and embarked upon manufacturing PVC and aluminium window joinery there. Windows made in Jedwabne became all the rage in the area. Dealing in the construction industry was no joke at the time, however. In order to face stiff competition, the business desperately needed a modern machine park. Its competitors being on the ball, SONAROL avoided any rash decisions, though. Step by step, the business first extended its premises and then purchased modern machinery. More investment soon followed…

…To Fruit
In 2003, the company took over a Styrofoam factory in Jeziorko, near Łomża. Purchased on the brink of decline, the plant underwent a thorough revamping process. Soon back in business, it was equipped with modern and highly efficient machines, which foam, form, slice, mill and pack Styrofoam. It should be added that this project was executed by SONAROl’s department of steel construction. The investment soon yielded positive results as SONAROL get a strong position in the industry in north-eastern Poland. Cutting-edge technology was not the only decisive factor. Equally important was careful decision making, ongoing quality control together with spotless and prompt customer service. In 2008, the window factory became fully automatised. Nowadays the production process is under comprehensive electronic control. The custom-made software allows the company to reduce “human factor” errors at all the stages of the manufacturing process. These include placing an order, production optimisation, machine operation, transport and issuing invoices. It is mainly on the strength of its modern production lines that SONAROL has achieved an established position on the market. However, the company would never grow that rapidly if it was not for its employees, either. The transport fleet in turn guarantees that SONAROL’s clients are supplied in a timely and reliable manner.

Reap the Rewards, Look to Your Laurels
Finally, the year of 2010, which – as everything seems to suggest it – will go down in Sonarol’s history as one of best ever. Already in March, the business has launched the construction of the brand new facilities for storage and production (overall space of ca. 6,000 sqm). Soon after that the extension of the machine park will follow, which is to comprise up to 10 production lines and 2 modern centres fitted with profile slicing machines. Thus, the company expects to be in a position to turn out 2,500 windows a day! The resources allocated to this investment make, mind you, 11 million PLN. Such a venture would not be possible if it was not for the EU funding grants. SONAROL has the know-how necessary to obtain these: the project the company submitted came first in the competition organised by the Podlassia branch of the Innovative Economy Operational Programme.

Business Capacity
At present the business boasts the production facilities of 7,000 sqm and employs nearly 200 people. Every month the company turns out ca. 25,000 sqm of Styrofoam boards, over 10,000 PVC windows and hundreds of PVC and aluminium doors. They also manufacture facades, winter gardens, steel constructions for industrial facilities, Styrofoam production machines and lightweight trailers. The sales in turn are seen to by the company’s business partners who are properly trained in terms of the product itself, its assembly and maintenance as well as customer service. It is thanks to their contribution that many customers in Poland put their trust in the SONAROL window and door joinery. Top quality SONAROL solutions has attracted foreign customers, too, including business partners in Belgium, Denmark, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Scandinavia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Currently SONAROL’s export figures top 10 % of its annual production. The business is planning to continue dynamic growth in the coming years. Immediate goals? Sales figures are to be doubled, largely due to the company’s foreign expansion.

Human Factor
Finally, a few words on human resources. A winning combination of initiative and experience, SONAROL’s personnel is a source of pride for the management. The owners of the company are well aware of the fact that it is people who operate cutting-edge technology and not the other way round. For this reason, they go out of their way to properly address the issue of human resources. And they reap the rewards. The high staff retention rate may serve as a case in point, which is obviously reinforced by good rates of pay and friendly atmosphere at the company. SONAROL never hires at random: the recruitment process is carefully divided into 2 stages and HR officers tend to select those candidates which not only have relevant experience or qualifications but are also willing to learn new skills.

Diverse Solutions
The power of SONAROL’s offer is based on top quality PVC and aluminium joinery solutions. PVC joinery comprises a wide variety of windows, different types of doors including balcony, parallel, hinged, sliding, interior and exterior doors, as well as partitions. Aluminium joinery includes windows, exterior and interior doors, shop-windows, facades, partitions and winter gardens. In addition, the company offers technical counselling at the stages such as project preparation and project completion. This allows the business to avoid unnecessary mistakes, thus saving the time and money of its customers.

Customer Care
Customer satisfaction– this should come as no surprise – proves the prime target for the company. Clients are becoming more and more demanding every year. Oddly enough, this is where SONAROL spots a niche in the market. On the face of it, this sounds like a paradox – it is no doodle to serve choosy clientele, after all – but this paradox should be easily resolved if you take the company’s assets into account, be they human resources or technology. Those who choose SONAROL’s joinery can count on professional service and top-notch quality. This entails windows customised to individual needs of the buyer. Even the fanciest models are designed to be functional and long-lasting. Both technology and production department play a vital role in the process. People working in the latter boast the skill to make miracles with SONAROL’s equipment. Hence many projects are completed with truly surgical precision, reaching an accuracy of one-tenth of a millimetre.

Innovative Design
SONAROL’s windows are produced by means of the “6 plus” cellular system, which stands out as the company’s speciality and first original idea. Its advantages? The “6 plus” system is marked by perfect thermal and acoustic isolation parametres. Its additional sixth chamber and horizontal reinforcement guarantee that the windows, even the largest models, achieve a desired level of static equilibrium. After a small surcharge the anti-burglary components such as interlocking hooks or the Secustic handle are also available. Thanks to its unique design, the latter is virtually impossible to drill through while its mechanism guards against the window bolt being moved from outside. Last but not least, SONAROL’s windows are pleasing to the eye; the effect achieved largely due to a wide variety of colours used.

Business Gazelle
In 2005, SONAROL received a Gazela Biznesu (Business Gazelle) award. The business came fourth in the category of the most dynamic contenders in the Podlassia region. The competition is run by “Puls Biznesu” magazine, which grants Gazelas to middle-sized businesses, which prove to have a recipe for dynamic growth in three subsequent years. Their place in the ranking depends on the increase in turn-over, calculated in percents. Gazela winners have to possess one more virtue, an excellent reputation, that is, which should be confirmed by their business partners, employees and the Polish treasury.

“Forbes” Diamond
SONAROL’s collection of prizes includes also a “Forbes” Diamond, which has made the most prominent item on the list so far. This year the business has come fourth in the prestigious ranking list, which is prepared by “Forbes” monthly in collaboration with the Dun & Bradstreet Corporation. The place in the ranking is determined by the unique Swiss method which calculates the company’s worth on the basis of its assets and financial results. Thus, the method enables to rate business capacity in a comprehensive manner, in terms of sales figures, net profit, fixed asset, resources available, accounts receivable and investment. Specialists that use these advanced tools cannot be wrong. Hence the conclusion: it is for a good reason that businesses receive a “Forbes Diamond”. The crème de la crème of Polish middle-sized enterprise, SONAROL could hardly dream of better recommendation. The company was rated third in 2009 (category: sales between 5 and 50 mln PLN) and has come fourth this year (sales between 50 and 250 mln PLN) in Podlassia. 

Written by Bartosz Sowiński

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