UAFM in the faces: how to work in a state of war. Oleksandr Gotska, Director of Volyn Furniture Company – Ukraine LLC, tells

In a state of martial law

… And furniture makers keep the front. Labor

This is how, in wartime terminology, we can say about furniture makers who, based on where there are production conditions, continue to produce products that the country desperately needs in this terrible situation in which we find ourselves, and make furniture for export. Specifically, we will talk about Volyn Furniture Company – Ukraine LLC from Novovolynsk, whose example can be mobilizing for colleagues who may have been somewhat confused in the trouble that befell us all.

– We not only continue to ship export products but also increase the volume of foreign sales, – said the company’s director Alexander Gotska. – And this is possible due to the fact that we were able to contact our foreign clients and agree that in order to support the economy of Ukraine, which was also hit hard by the enemy, to change our usual – peaceful – trade relations. Usually, they do not buy our furniture to create stocks, but only the amount needed by furniture retailers. That is, they order furniture from us and buy them exclusively to order. And now we have agreed to buy our products for warehousing, ie in larger quantities. This is even more than a partnership – our clients demonstrate examples of trade volunteering to help Ukraine. In order to buy larger volumes of Ukrainian furniture, some of them take loans and even raise their own savings. Since the Russian invasion, we have sent about twenty trucks with our furniture to Europe. The volume of orders is such that by the end of March we will work on exports non-stop. They have received applications for which they are ready to buy the furniture in full as they are ready.

– Are they ready to buy furniture from your warehouse program, models of the current assortment line or focus on new ones that will be interesting to them?

– Of course, it is more profitable for us to ship newly manufactured products, rather than stocks so that our people have work and we can pay them salaries. That’s why we asked our clients so that we could fulfil their promising applications.

– In conditions when logistical conditions in the country have become much more difficult or impossible, will you have problems with materials, components and accessories for the implementation of those promising foreign orders.

– Yes, logistics are tight. We used some furniture components of domestic production, access to which is now lost. So we refocused on Polish counterparts. As for the main board materials for cabinet furniture, we stocked up on them in advance, even when the danger of Russian aggression began to increase. To the extent sufficient for March export needs. Or maybe enough for mid-April.

– For materials and components that you need to buy abroad, you need to pay in foreign currency. But, as you know, in the current environment there are currency restrictions…

– And yet we found legal opportunities to import the materials and components we need. In fact, everything is simple: our foreign customers – and in fact good partners – buy for us everything we need for the production of furniture, and we pay for them with ready-made furniture.

– It is known that Volyn Furniture Company – Ukraine started on a volunteer basis to make beds for the needs of refugees who have arrived and continue to arrive in your region.

– These are simple but reliable models of beds that we have really started to make for these urgent needs and provide them free of charge to those who take care of the accommodation of refugees. We also used our stock of quality mattresses to accommodate refugees. The beds are just adapted to complete those mattresses. We make them from those materials that were used for the production of furniture that was to be intended for the domestic market, and the production of which, of course, is frozen.

– Is it possible to pay salaries to employees of the company in full?

– There is such a possibility, so we fully settled with them in February. We will pay in full the March advance and, I’m sure, in April we will pay in full for March.

– And in peacetime, the furniture of the western regions due to a significant outflow of labour resources suffered a staff shortage. And now, when people are crossing the borders en masse? Maybe skilled migrants will be able to replace local migrants?

– We, that is, our company, do not need their help yet, because we do our best to keep our skilled workers, to keep a close-knit team.

– What would you advise Ukrainian furniture makers, colleagues from the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers?

– I do not just advise – I urge them not to succumb to the difficulties that Russia has created for us. Where there is the least possibility of not stopping production, work to strengthen the country’s labour front. In the current situation, this is no less important than defending it with a weapon in hand.

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