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Eng. Ivan Cholakov: We plan to continue investing in the development of high technologies

12 november 2019

Eng. Ivan Cholakov: We plan to continue investing in the development of high technologies

Was the year 2018 successful for your company?

Last year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Optix and entered our third decade with very good financial indicators and prospects for development. The sales volume increased compared to the previous year by more than 8%, and given the very complex process of business division, we are satisfied with these results. We also opened our own renovated shooting range as a final part of our production base for the development and implementation of high-class sights for firearms.

We recnsidered and changed our concept for the sale of sports products, entrusting it mainly to world-renowned retail chains and brands. We expect a sharp increase in sales volume in the coming years, as evident from the currently increased volume of orders.

Ever since the establishment of the company, the annual investments have been a required and controlled element of the company's development policy. Following several consecutive years, in which we made investments mostly in the production equipment, this year we shifted the focus and invested in real estates in order to provide sufficient production space for both Optix and the other partner companies in the Group.

Is the project for the new Bozhurishte base under way?

We are currently in the process of obtaining Act 16. The construction project activities have been completed and only await to be documented. The contracts with the main suppliers of the specialized equipment are underway and the first machines are already at the production site.

We have started the procedures for attracting the required staff. The production program up to the end of this year, as well as 2020, has been drawn up. The launch of these facilities coincides with the increased market demand for our products, intended for the hunting market, and will support the production of additional quantities.

In 2017, together with the North American fund DWHP you established a new company - Micro Optics Europe, with a capital of BGN 3.95 million. What's your assessment of the deal from a present standpoint, what is the benefit from the deal, what are the results of the new company and what is to be expected in the future?

The newly established company started its activity very successfully, now having over 240 employees. This year we moved to a new building constructed under our specialists’ project in compliance with the world standards for the production of micro-parts for the medical industry. Investments were also made in the purchase of modern equipment, mainly with digital program control and modern measuring equipment. The company’s management team also implements good management practices applied overseas.

The expectations are that this year the revenues will be BGN 19 million, which is an increase of over 50% compared to 2017. Even if there is some sentiment with regard to the separation of part of the Optics business, the deal is obviously beneficial to both parties.

What are the results achieved by Optix in 2019 and what are your future objectives and investments planned?

As of August, our revenues were BGN 36.7 million, which gives us reason to consider that the objectives will be fulfilled. We have completed some significant border protection projects, started in 2016 and 2017, in which we took part not so much as an integrator, but rather as a manufacturer of smart systems for border surveillance and security. We also work on the implementation of contracts for the sale of production licenses to other countries. We continue to invest in infrastructure to provide production space, new production capacity and more comfortable working conditions for our employees. We also invest in completely new production and measuring equipment for our project in Bozhurishte.

What problems has your company encountered and what challenges the does the branch face?

The company has encountered most of the problems that other production companies in Bulgaria face. The most serious challenges are the development of sales channels for our special products, as well as land and sea border security systems. Our markets are abroad and in this regard we have taken successful steps to increase marketing and trade resources, expand the territory of specific markets, and build strategic partnerships in some regions.

We are actively involved in the production optimization, introduction of Lean practices in order to reduce costs and increase the competitiveness of our main products. We devolve special attention and resources to our development units. In fact, what we have achieved and are about to create and implement are primarily products of our well-equipped development units.

How do you solve the labour shortage issues from which many sectors suffer?

The problem has been covered daily in all media and employers' structures. Expertise has become the most difficult resource to acquire. We will invest mostly in improving the knowledge and skills of our employees. We are looking for solutions and are investing serious efforts and resources. Besides the popular measures applied, we have started looking for non-standard ones, such as the import of expatriate employees, scholarship programs in specialized schools and institutions abroad. Optix is one of the first companies in the country to join the dual education system. This year we have students who are already graduating from this educational program, after they have passed their practical training with us. Naturally, we also have internship programs for pupils and students. We organize internal and external trainings. Thus we strive to increase the expertise of our staff at all levels.

What are the medium-term plans of Optix?

Optix will continue to invest in the development of high technologies. We are developing new solutions in the field of thermal imaging that will position us as technological leaders in the international markets. We are investing in new production capacities in the field of electronics. We also face new challenges related to technology transfer.

In terms of marketing, we will continue to follow our product diversification for the civilian segment and the defence and security segment. We will continue to participate in the European innovation programs. We have ambitious plans and are confident that with the competent teams that we have assembled so far, we would be able to implement them within the deadlines set.

Author: Mihail Vanchev

  • 12 november 2019

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