UAFM in faces: Interview with Svetlana Shabalina, co-owner of the Doros company.

The capital company Doros In the industry is not a newcomer, and in the Ukrainian Association of Furniture Manufacturers not so long ago. According to its co-owner Svitlana Shabalina, some of what UAFM is helpful for its members has been intuitively done in the company for a long time – they learned to work frugally on their own, improve relationships with partners and customers, reliably pave sales channels, seek to reduce its cost. And when it became known that the Association’s assistance in the introduction of lean management techniques in furniture production, the principles of continuous improvement of “Kaizen”, Lean and others are put on a broad footing in both theoretical and practical sense (by learning from the best in this case), then it became obvious: with the Association of the company dear. Moreover, UAFM effectively promotes the export promotion of domestic furniture, and this topic is very relevant for a company that has plans for an export breakthrough.

“Furniture Standard” is the registered name of the company, and in the market, it is better known by the furniture brand “Doros”. This is the name of her furniture factory.

In the late ’90s, our company – returns to the origins of Ms Svetlana – was engaged in the distribution of various products in the B2B segment of the market, and regularly sought new products to expand the range. Thus, our furniture includes office furniture from Ukrainian manufacturers. But the partners constantly let us down: they did not adhere to the agreed terms of deliveries, sinned with vague pricing policy. It also had a certain objective character, because the domestic furniture industry was just emerging. Most of the residential furniture was imported. That’s when the idea arose to start their own furniture, so as not to depend on suppliers.

We purchased the minimum necessary set of equipment, negotiated with suppliers of materials and components and began to master a new type of activity. At the initial stage, the furniture was made exclusively to order, which is usually practised by most beginners. The most difficult was the search for customers to ensure the continuous operation of production. There have often been failed periods in terms of the number of orders, and sometimes we receive them excessively, which is also bad, because the terms of their execution have increased, and this, of course, did not satisfy customers. Then they faced the need to produce standard furniture and sales from the warehouse. The decision turned out to be correct: the volumes of serial production are constantly growing. The fact that the factory produces almost one and a half thousand units of products every month is a convincing proof of that. ”

– Both household and office furniture?

“We have stopped actively developing the direction of office furniture production. The country periodically has economic crises, which also periodically reduces the demand for office furniture, because entrepreneurs who find themselves in a difficult situation, not to buy new office furniture, even if they are more comfortable, equipped with modern requirements for office space. They focused on large cabinet products, and now Doros sliding door wardrobes are well known to the Ukrainian market.

There are many components of the success of furniture companies, and each has their own priorities, although they are basically similar or identical. For us, the priority is to build strong relationships with partners – suppliers and customers – based on honesty and trust. And our main trading partners are wholesale buyers of our furniture – furniture retailers.

You ask about milestones or, as they say, fateful stages in the history of the company. There were such. The first significant stage was the acquisition of production capacity and the establishment of its own furniture production. Another important milestone for the company was the transition in 2005 to the production of serial products and the launch of the Doros brand.

We do not seek to compete with similar manufacturers, with colleagues in the Association, but rather focus on communicating with them in order to learn from the best experience, and UAFM just helps. And not only within the industry, but also the market as a whole. Our constant and persistent desire to learn the best that is in furniture, and through this to develop, and is what makes us different from many. To a large extent, this provides technological flexibility of factory production. For example, when the decoration of furniture by the method of photo printing became fashionable – the market began to demand it, customers were eager for it – the factory quickly mastered this technology. Another need forced the organization of a modern painting site. And these examples are not uncommon. We regularly visit exhibitions and foreign trade networks, equipment manufacturers and components – all with the same goal: to adopt better, to learn from the achievements of others “- says Ms Svetlana.

– What is the most ambitious goal of the company?

Nowadays, it is important for us to achieve brand recognition, including in foreign markets. It’s no secret that the design component of this task is one of the main ones. So far, we are successfully managing our own design opportunities, but we are also open to interesting proposals from both domestic famous and creative, and possibly foreign designers. Such openness is logical and completely justified, especially when the company is aimed at foreign markets, ”the speaker continues.

– Is there something that others could learn from you?

The first thing that comes to mind is our favourite creation – our own furniture designer, which allows us to create individual furniture for end customers from ready-made components. When it appeared in our country, it was a novelty in the industry, which is why it greatly contributed to the popularization of our products, the Doros brand. I will say more: thanks to the opportunities to use such a designer, furniture retailers have reached out to us. We can say that first of all for them the furniture designer was created by us. For our wholesale buyers, who, thanks to the capabilities of the designer, found it easier to find end buyers, increase sales. Indeed, with the help of such a designer, furniture centres, salons and shops, which are our trading partners, have the opportunity to create individualized options for their customers at a price and on the basis of our serial furniture. It is liked by end customers, it attracts them, and therefore it is attractive for retailers as well, ” Svitlana shares her experience.

– Would you like your children to continue your business and also become furniture makers?

“In the furniture industry, many companies in the world have a long history, as they go from founders to their grandchildren and so on. Probably, this is determined by the specifics of our case, and we need to learn from this experience,” concludes Ms Svitlana.


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