Association of furniture makers in the trend of success
Leonid Spivakov, a member of the Board of the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers and a founder of the RD.Furniture company took part in the TeamWIN Window Days in Ukraine conference organized by the ODVjournal in September.
The invitation of the UAFM representative to participate in this conference was quite motivated: the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers is known as one of the most successful industry associations from which there is a lot to learn – and enviable proactivity in various areas of defending the interests of its members and the ability to effectively cooperate with international partners, in particular donors, and, finally, the dynamic growth of new members. The editorial staff of ODVjournal asked our Leonid Spivakov to tell us more about this.
– Leonid, let’s start with the active growth of UAFM with new members.
Who can get membership in UAFM
– As for the number of members of the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers, it is close to three hundred. Specifically, UAFM now unites 264 companies with common interests. The dynamics of quantitative growth is convincingly demonstrated by the current year, during which three quarters were joined by almost 60 companies. Not only purely furniture. The doors of the association are open to all companies that have either a direct, as a specific furniture manufacturer, or indirect or indirect relationship to the furniture industry, the furniture industry in general and who understand that figuratively speaking, the group is easier to beat the father. In other words, membership in the Association is seen as a means of collective development of the industry in general, and their business in particular. Therefore, no one has long been surprised that their colleagues in the furniture association are not only suppliers of materials and components for their production needs and designers, without whose participation modern furniture is impossible, but also carpenters, logisticians, transporters, lawyers, retailers and more. They occur among UAFM members and companies that are also members of other industry associations.
Rights and obligations of UAFM’s participants
Do all members of UAFM have the same rights in it? So. The same rules for all members of the association (statement, two recommendations from current members and the obligation to pay membership fees and adhere to corporate ethics); everyone can participate in corporate, educational and promotional events and programs of the association; to be elected to its governing bodies; to cooperate for the implementation of joint mutually beneficial projects, to participate in cluster associations. By the way, today one of UAFM’s priorities is to actively assist in the creation of the first two large Ukrainian furniture clusters – in Rivne and Kyiv regions.
Different for them – however fully motivated and supported by the UAFM’s community – is the size of the membership fee. In companies involved in furniture production, it is slightly larger than in the direct furniture. And some (design, architectural studios, industry publications) are completely exempt from paying membership fees, – informs Mr Leonid.
– We know that the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers effectively supports export-oriented companies. What exactly do you help?
UAFM promotes furniture sales in domestic and foreign markets
– It is so. To this end, an Export Promotion Platform was created within the association. We are in close contact with the relevant state institutions in order to enlist their effective assistance.
UAFM pays considerable attention to the educational training of future exporters and the development of those who already sell abroad, using seminars, workshops with the involvement of reputable speakers. Our School of Furniture Business Management also has such targeted programs. Popular and effective are networking events, where experienced fellow exporters share their experience with newcomers, find partners to jointly solve export problems, implement joint projects, tell how to get around all the “underwater reefs” that can lurk inexperienced exporters. The following measures are a four-stage sequence:
- we teach efficient management on the basis of the Kaizen philosophy of thrift so that we can produce products with minimal losses;
- we aim to create furniture masterpieces (just like that, because without a unique product the world markets cannot be conquered) and for this purpose, we use cooperation programs of domestic designers and furniture makers;
- we teach to be successful in the domestic market, which will be a prerequisite for success in foreign markets;
- and, of course, because the exporter needs to know: about the most promising foreign markets for them, about their features and requirements.
FUBE – UAM’s own exhibition
And about one of the most effective tools for promoting Ukrainian furniture in foreign markets – the international exhibition “Furniture of Ukraine Business Expo” I will say separately. This is the first domestic B2B exhibition, the initiator of which, its founder, direct organizer and inspirer were the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers. The premiere of this forum was successful and quite effective for its participants in the summer. With the involvement of Ukrainian furniture manufacturers on the one hand and furniture retailers, on the other hand, to a greater extent, foreign ones for concluding mutually beneficial trade contracts. The very fact that the exhibition arrived foreign guests from 59 countries, representatives of 37 retailers networks demonstrates its success if consider that this year exports of Ukrainian manufacturing grew by a record 62 percent, have confidence that, not least because of this exhibition. The Ukrainian participants of the exhibition signed contracts for millions of dollars with foreign clients, which were found for them by the organizers of this forum.
It is important to note that with the end of the exhibition, the search for new customers for furniture members of the association is not over. The management of the exhibition continues, as in the period of preparation for the exhibition, to look for new promising buyers, to organize visits to their productions by foreign trade representatives who are interested in their products, to assist in the negotiation process. Such business trips are called road-shows: a group of foreign buyers who are interested in certain types of furniture is formed, there are Ukrainian manufacturers of such furniture who are interested in contacts with foreign retailers, their arrival in Ukraine and support on a route organized so that one Arrival of foreign guests were able to visit a number of furniture companies whose products interested them. And UAFM invites foreign designers to Ukraine to establish their cooperation with Ukrainian furniture.
Another opportunity to expand export prospects for Ukrainian furniture is the participation of UAFM representatives in government trade missions, in particular, such trips to Israel and the United Kingdom were effective for furniture makers, – says Mr Leonid.
– How does your association work with international donor organizations to receive grants for its members? What did they get the money for this year?
Cooperation of UAFM with international donor organizations
– First of all, I will say that the furniture association itself is a grantee. A few years ago, the UNDP Development Program in Ukraine singled out UAFM among industry associations as one of the most effective and efficient in its activities and began to contribute to our further development.
It should be noted that thanks in large part to our donor partners, UAFM was able to successfully implement such a large-scale project as the already mentioned Bayer exhibition “FUBE-2021”. In this case, we were assisted by the USAID US Government’s Competitive Economy Program. It was she who financed the costs of transferring hundreds of foreign buyers invited to our exhibition, their accommodation, meals and sightseeing tours in Kyiv because the organizers of the exhibition guaranteed foreign guests that all this will be free for them. This was the most significant grant project this year you asked for.
Our association also closely and fruitfully cooperates with the government agency “Office for Entrepreneurship and Export Development “. Although he is not a donor, he effectively helps us and our members in foreign economic activity.
If we talk about the grant tranches that individual companies received for their development, it is mostly again US funds under the USAID Program, as well as from donor programs of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, – sums up Mr Leonid.