Lithuanian SBA Group runs the largest furniture producer – SBA Furniture Group – in the Baltics. SBA’s Vice-President Egidijus Valentinavičius has devoted almost a quarter of a century to the business, so you could say he’s part of the furniture…
A 5,000-strong workforce, 30 enterprises, and a business philosophy that binds them all together, SBA is one of the largest and most successful business groups in Lithuania. On top of real estate and apparel production, one of its irons in the fire is SBA Furniture Group, which unites five manufacturing enterprises in Lithuania and Belarus – making it the largest furniture business in the Baltic States.
Each of the five factories has a different manager but all of its operations are centralised and overseen by SBA’s Vice-President Egidijus Valentinavičius. He joined the company almost 25 years ago after studying electronics engIneering and management. “I became Vice-President in 2009, I’ve been at the company for a very long time, perhaps too long!” he jokes. “My main responsibility is development; I’ve spearheaded the consolidation of our furniture business and the centralisation of many of our core processes. During my tenure, SBA has developed two greenfield projects and one brownfield project in furniture production. We’re also developing our exports as 95% of our furniture is exported.”
Blueprint for success
Egidijus explains that SBA has ambitious plans to expand into other regions of Lithuania and further afield. The company’s success means there are many opportunities to copy its production setup, but certain preconditions are required first, namely raw material bases and component production facilities.
“Our ambition is to multiply SBA’s blueprint in other markets. Of course, due to the virus pandemic, the global business environment for investments looks quite unstable in the short-term, but we are positive about the long-term future”
Egidijus says. “We are a mass producer of furniture on the B2B market but we want to integrate with retailers to a greater extent so we can gauge our customers’ preferences in more detail – we want to get closer to them.”
Robots are the future
When asked about Lithuanian furniture design, Egidijus says that it’s hard to describe but explains that it has both Scandinavian and German influences. However, because SBA focuses on B2B, there are some limitations regarding style – the design specifications usually depend on the client, and the company’s production processes and technologies are developed according to what the factories make. “We tend to create more minimalist furniture, not so much the classic Italian style, for example,” he adds. “SBA is really concentrating on new advanced technologies that can improve all processes – we offer great design, unrivalled quality, brilliant functionality, and affordable prices.
Four out of five of the SBA’s furniture factories are on home soil in Lithuania, while the other is not far away in Belarus. Keeping a healthy balance between manual and automated operations is important because the more automated SBA becomes, the less flexibility it has, as Egidijus points out. However, in global competition, robotisation and automatisation are becoming increasingly vital for companies’ survival. SBA puts a strong emphasis on efficiency and is always trying to improve operations in its factories. Last year it acquired robotics and automation solutions company Robotex, which has a huge amount of experience in robotising various business sectors.
The business is also focussed on using raw materials as efficiently as possible to avoid waste, making sure that each product is perfect from the very first trial, and cutting production costs and times. “We are always looking at how we can optimise the supply chain,” the Vice-President says. “One of our main strengths is our corporate culture,” Egidijus adds proudly. “We have three main values: one is a passion to win, adopting a winning mentality. The second is leadership in innovation, so we want our people to innovate every day, from the small to big things, not just radical things – for us small improvements have a huge impact. And the third value is a sense of ownership because SBA wants all employers to feel like the owner of the company so that everyone has a collective vision to make the best products possible.”