Vladica Petrović, General Manager and Temporary Representative Of Capital At FAM Kruševac

People Make Successful Companies

Until six years ago FAM Kruševac was facing the closure of production, burdened with debts, suffering from shortages in its inventory and raw materials, and facing an uncertain future

Unlike many factories that bad privatisations had brought to the brink of collapse, FAM succeeded, with the support of the Government and through the great efforts of employees and management. Going through the crisis that is left behind, today represents the pride of the city of Kruševac.

You have been chosen for the third time to lead the company that is a leader in the production of oils and lubricants in Serbia. How do you see FAM’s future as a company, especially when it comes to expanding production and new employment?

That’s right. For the third time, I was selected to lead Lubricants Factory – FAM, because during the most difficult moments of 2011 I stood at the helm of this company.FAM was then under a blockade of 3.2 billion dinars, stores of raw materials 0 (zero), finished products almost 0 (zero), with debts of €4 million to foreign suppliers and 200 million dinars to domestic suppliers. Moreover, new blockades were threatened and we could not even make assumptions about how high they could be.

Under great pressure from employees, which I then led as president of the FAM Union, the state, i.e. the government, made the decision to terminate FAM’s privatisation and launch restructuring. That virtually meant that we had to start from scratch and that we needed to find solutions for the survival of FAM in the further course of operations. We were forced to settle our obligations to suppliers ourselves, and sometimes later also to banks, through the pre-prepared reorganisation plan.

We export to more than ten countries. We are particularly proud that we export to the Russian market, which is extremely demanding in terms of product quality. Generally for export, but also for our market, the crucial factors are quality and the rich assortment of around 500 products that we offer customers

It was only because I have excellent knowledge regarding the operations of the company, the product programme and the possibility to maximally engage all employees, that I accepted an almost impossible mission – to return FAM to its old track. In the six years that have since passed we have created and modified over 100 products, while the plan also includes expanding the product range, which will certainly lead to the creation of new jobs.

What was crucial to you becoming the head of the company for the third time? What kind of reaction came from employees and citizens, given that FAM is one of the few companies with stable operations?

What was crucial was that the employees were united in wanting me to remain at the helm of the company, because they believe that I can successfully run FAM.

Thanks to the results, the local government and the Economy Ministry also gave me their support.
FAM, as a socially responsible company, participates in all activities related to the humanitarian and social life of the city, so the reactions of citizens can only be positive.

You export to nmerous markets and are ranked among the largest exporters in your sector. What is crucial in you retaining your customers and the markets where you sell products? How do you beat the competition and how much do you invest in innovation in production?

We export to more than ten countries. We are particularly proud that we export to the Russian market, which is extremely demanding in terms of product quality. Generally, for export, but also for our market, the crucial factors are quality and the rich assortment of around 500 products that we offer customers.

FAM aims to concentrate all production facilities in one place in the next two years, which will reduce our production costs and thereby ease operations as a whole

I am able to say with proud that FAM, thanks to the personnel it possesses, can adapt the product extremely quickly to suit the needs of each customer.
When it comes to exports, I can say that we export about 30 per cent of our production.

FAM is an example of how a badly privatised enterprise can be turned into a good and profitable company. Do state institutions help you to overcome difficulties that were caused by others?

FAM is an example of how, without any help, employees can exert exceptional efforts to reach a positive solution for the factory. Just 45 days ago we received 20 million dinars for current liquidity, but we used these funds for investments that will allow us to ease operations.

You are among the companies that have wholeheartedly accepted proposals for the introduction of dual education in Serbia. What would you suggest to the Ministry of Education when it comes to dual education?

When it comes to the personnel, who I consider as being the most important factor in successfully managing the company, it is extremely important to primarily retain the existing resources, and then to use careful selection to upgrade what we need.

In that sense, we decided to be among the first to express a need for dual education, so we will train and fund 30 chemistry and mechanical engineering pupils in the coming year. The Ministry of Education is aware of that and we expect maximum support. I would suggest that the Ministry convince as many companies as possible that investing in skills is an investment in the future and in no way a cost.

You award scholarships to students and pupils, and you cooperate with the local authorities and the National Employment Service. How do you get to the kind of young, educated and trained personnel who are essential for the successful work of the company? 

FAM grants scholarships to the children of its employees, and we have exceptionally good cooperation with the local government and the National Employment Service.

After years of hardship, Factory FAM is now standing on solid ground, with production stabilised and financial obligations being met. Is your proposal regarding the relocating of the plant to another site evidence that FAM is heading in the right direction and that the previous difficulties have been overcome?

FAM aims to concentrate all production facilities in one place in the next two years, which will reduce our production costs and thereby ease operations as a whole.

You recently promoted a new logo for your company. What is the main message of FAM’s new visual identity?

Promotion of the new logo is essentially a continuation of all the positive things that are happening at FAM, including positive cooperation with our business partners. The City of Kruševac was exceptional in accepting this and I can say that FAM is the pride of Kruševac, while I also want to emphasise the extremely good cooperation with Studio Four, which managed to convert our ideas into reality.

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