Clemens Sachs, Director At Leoni Wiring Systems Southeast Ltd.:

Century Of Success – And Counting

Leoni this year marks a hundred years of doing business in the global automotive industry, while the company has been operating in Serbia for eight years

The LEONI name stands for first-class competence in wires, cables, wiring systems and related products. Its innovative solutions are used in the global automotive industry as well as in Serbia, but also in key industrial sectors like telecommunications, IT, health and energy.

“The trick is to bring the German, systematic approach together with people’s flexibility and enthusiasm abroad,” said one of Leoni’s regional directors. How has this “trick” been accepted in Serbia?

– Leoni sees this opportunity as a kind of cooperation and not as a kind of “teacher”, which local people should follow without any deviation.

In other words, it is about utilising the German management style (systematic), with the Serbian advantage of flexibility and strong willingness to together create the best synergy.

Both parties should at the same level and should learn from each other.

This was always the style of Leoni managers here in Serbia, and it is one of the root causes why we still remain here and develop and continuously grow here in Serbia, performing well.

You recently opened a third factory in Serbia, with an investment of €22 million, which is expected to launch production in August and thereby make Leoni one of the biggest exporters and employers in Serbia. To what extent have the company’s investments in Serbia to date proved effective?

– Leoni is very proud that it will soon have its third plant in Serbia. The first phase of construction will be ready at the end of June 2017, while the whole factory will be finalised by the end of this year.

And, yes, if we fill it to its capacity with production, Leoni will become the biggest foreigner employer in Serbia, and we think that’s a nice position to be in.

Besides that, to our Leoni local management it is more important for us to be the best employer, and not merely the biggest. That means providing people with the best possible environment during their working day and treating them fairly in all points that are reflected in their job and their private life.

With the new factory in Niš, Leoni’s invest in construction, equipment and land purchases will total more than 70 million euros.

Leoni is very proud that it will soon have its third plant in Serbia. The first phase of construction will be ready at the end of June 2017, while the whole factory will be finalised by the end of this year

The German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce recently conducted its annual survey showing that German companies are optimistic and assess the economic climate in Serbia positively. Where do you see room to improve the business environment in Serbia?

– Yes, the Serbian-German Chamber of Commerce is right. Serbia is a good country for Leoni when it comes to producing our portfolio and the climate is very good for us.

We feel support from almost every party and organisation involved. However, there are still points that should be improved and that will help make Serbia more interesting and attractive for foreigner investors.

As a main point, we see an obstacle in the form of import and export taxes, and with bureaucracy in general. Business today is a global market and time is money, so obstacles that block these points should be changed in the future, and soon.