The Oltina Impex Prod Com SRL trading company is a successful company with fully Romanian capital, with a rich experience in the field of milling and bakery, being at this moment the undisputed leader in the region in the field of milling and bakery.
Especially for Manufacturing Journal Magazine an exclusive interview was given by Mr Bogdan Mihail Iosif, Co-owner and General Manager in Oltina Impex Prod Com SRL company.
Please tell us what were the beginnings of the Oltina Impex Prod Com and what were the most important moments in the history of its development? Could you briefly describe the company’s achievements?
The Oltina business started in 1994, having as object of activity the import and commercialization of industrial products, from paper to electrical components and chemicals for various industries. The region in which we operated at that time was one of the most industrialized areas of the country, but many companies with a system of planned and centralized economy, had difficulties in supplying components and raw materials for industrial use, especially from western Europe markets. As they adapted to the new economic conditions, we had to look for new areas in which to put to advantage our capital and keep the company on an upward trend. In a country with significant agricultural resources, we have naturally turned to the most stable of the food industries, namely bakery. Bread consumption was then and remaining in Romania one of the largest in Europe. We started from a small bread factory (20,000 pieces per day) and a 30 tons wheat mill. We took full advantage of all the opportunities that the historical context of Romania’s accession to the European Union offered us, so we accessed non-reimbursable funds from the programs that our country had at its disposal in view of industrial modernization. In 2006 we accessed SAPARD funds for the construction of the wheat mill (260 tons / 24 h), in 2009 for the construction of the bread factory (with a capacity of over 200,000 units per day) and in 2012 we completed the bakery and artisanal pastry section (over 30,000 units per day). Also, we completed in 2012, with our own investment, a corn mill having a capacity of 260 tons per day. It was the moment when in terms of turnover, the grain processing part became predominant, instead of the bread and pastry part. The culmination of these investments was the acquisition in 2018 of the largest grain processing capacity in Romania, the mill from Carani in Timis County (500 tons of wheat / day). It is in area with excellent access to quality wheat and is the most important challenge for us in the coming years. The mill requires significant investments in refurbishment and construction of silages for raw materials and finished products, especially since we want to install here a corn mill of 300 tons / day. Against the background of the growing need for raw material storage spaces, to secure business in the face of price fluctuations, in recent years we have purchased storage spaces with a capacity of about 400,000 tons, in the most important agricultural areas in the south and west of the country. This forced us to enter the grain trade market as well, so that in 2020 we experienced the second major translation in the structure of our turnover: 45% came from the grain trade, 34% from milling and only 17% from bakery and pastry.
Can you tell us more about the offered products and brands, production technologies and production facilities of the company?
Considering recent investments, we can say that we use the latest technologies in almost all our technological processes. In the bakery we have two Gostol automated production lines, one for toast and another for loaf bread, currently consumed in Romania. We do own a technological line produced in Turkey, less automated but important, because the bread obtained in this way is very close to the classic Romanian bread, a product that has many followers. In another section we try to obtain products that incorporate as many artisanal technologies as possible: baking on the hearth, proofing in wooden baskets (bannetons) and using local sourdough. In total, the bread factory produces about 120,000 units per day from a range of about 100 products grouped under the Oltina brands (fresh and sliced bread with a maximum shelf life of 5 days, puff pastry, sweet bread, cake etc.), “IsPita” (toast bread with a long shelf life, about 21 days), “IsPita Casei” (home bread baked on the hearth with sourdough), “Grau usor’ (whole wheat bread, baked on the hearth). In the future, we have big development plans to produce bread rolls, baguettes, given that next to our area HORECA industry is prominent. In terms of milling, under the “Oltina” brand we sell professional products for industry, respectively flours with the whole range of extractions suitable for various processes, from which a wide range of consumer goods are obtained (bread or puff pastry, maize flour for beer, snacks, chips and so on). Our retail mill brand is “Morino”, with following products: flours of various extractions, extra and superior maize flour. As soon as the Carani mill comes into operation, we will have easy access to a premium quality wheat and to a more flexible processing technology in relation to the quality requirements of the market. In this context, the establishment of a strong and complex brand is considered. Beyond these aspects, we currently produce bread, wheat flour and maize flour under the own brands for the main retailers on the Romanian market: Lidl, Kaufland, Profi, the Rewe group and so on.
Please tell us what is the most important in your business? What is the strategic potential of your company and the key to its success? What distinguishes Oltina Impex Prod Com brand from the competition?
We were lucky to develop our business in the area with the highest population density in the country, but also in the vicinity of the Capital. We practically bet on a big and stable market. As we developed and incorporated the grain trading business, we realized that the road must continue to the farm, and the key to our future success is here. We have analysed for years the quality of Romanian wheat and corn varieties crops, so we have a fairly accurate picture of the potential for the industrial exploitation of the wheat and corn grown in the area. Therefore, we started to finance the agricultural businesses around us, that grow cereal varieties of interest to us. We thus eliminate the main element of variability of the Romanian milling products quality, namely the variability of the raw material quality. We have also invested ourselves in agriculture and we aim to create a perfectly integrated business, resistant to market fluctuations. If something differentiates us fundamentally from any of our competitors, I think it is in this area. We intend to apply the same model to the “Carani” mill, located in the best pedo-climatic area of the country, to get the best quality wheat and having at the same time easy access to the modern transport infrastructure of Europe.
Through investments of approx. 20 million euros, Oltina’s production units have been refurbished with equipment purchased from world-renowned companies such as BUHLER Germany, Ocrim Italy, Gostol Slovenia, etc. Are you planning new investments?
Most of our purchases in recent years require significant refurbishment and I am referring here to grain storage facilities. The mill from Carani will be practically completely rethought from the technological and storage infrastructure point of view. Investments are needed in laboratories and quality control equipment, in expanding and consolidating the research and development infrastructure. Given the increase in the number of work points and their dispersion over a wide geographical area, redesigns of the IT infrastructure, integration of stock management systems, production management, logistics, accounting operations, sales etc. are needed. These are inherent investments to maintain our turnover and ensure the sustainability of the company.
It is impossible to achieve business success without appropriate and qualified staff. Can you tell us about the team of specialists who build the brand and success of the Oltina Impex Prod Com company?
We currently have over 500 employees in the group. Our main activities are coordinated by people with a very good professional background, many of them recognized in those fields. It is obvious that as our activity has expanded, our need for well-trained staff increased and we did not avoid making attractive offers to strengthen the teams of managers and specialists, where appropriate.
The quality of the products and services offered is your priority, therefore you cooperate only with proven partners. Would you like to highlight any of the companies - your most important suppliers, subcontractors, partners?
We have very good collaborations with the main suppliers of technologies and ingredients for the milling and bakery industry in Europe, some of them listed above. It is difficult to list because we would not want to do injustice to anyone. We can mention the “Tecnocereal” consultancy, regarding the technological design in cereals milling and storage. On the bakery division we have very good projects with well-established companies in the market, such as “Puratos”, “Lessafre”, “Rompak”, “Phanl”, but also with smaller growing companies such as “For Bake Solutions”. We are in partnerships with local farmers, from whom we purchase the raw material for milling, but also with well-known players on the world cereals market, such as “Ameropa”, “Glencore”, “Cargill”, “CHS Agritrade”, “VP Cereals” and so on. Not to be neglected are the partnerships with local financiers, such as “EximBank”, “CEC Bank”, “Banca Comerciala Romana”.
In addition to business activity, social activity is equally important. Do you locally engage in non-business activities, such as charities, sports or cultural events?
Most of our donations have recently gone to the Romanian health system. We traditionally finance the local church, the associations dealing with the administration and conservation of the hunting fund and we support families in difficulty in Urlati, every time we have the opportunity. There is a long list of charities that we supported, on time when we were able to do this. Also, we have financed cultural and sports activities.