„We had to choose: whether to resign ourselves to the natural development, the evolution, risking to lose, or to undertake a decisive step forward and make a revolution.“
Emilia Hroneva, Attorney-at-law CEO, Apex-Service Ltd.
Since Bulgaria’s glorious days as the land of the electric forklift and through the era of Balkancar‘s slow collapse, the gradual penetration of the largest foreign forklift brands and their subsequent takeover of the local market, Apex-Service Ltd. has experienced and managed to outlive all shocks in its industry along with all the economic winters in our country, including the most severe one, namely the financial crisis that commenced in 2008. The challenge: The company’s team has grown to 220 employees over its 20-year history. The client base has reached 3000 clients, the majority being local companies while 300-500 companies are distributors which export Apex-Service’s goods abroad. After the decline of Balkancar, the company has been working with large world brands such as Toyota, Komatsu, Nissan, TCM, Mitsubishi and leaders in forklift production such as Hyundai Heavy Industries and Crown Equipment, etc.
The company has also recently started marketing its own forklift brand: Osaka Forklift. The company operates in three main divisions: selling spare parts for all forklift brands and lifting equipment; selling and letting machines and performing repair services for all forklift and lifting equipment brands. The company’s revenues surpassed 20 million in 2015, with 50% being earned abroad. Apex-Service worked with more than 4000 clients in the country and abroad in 2015. “After 2004, following the penetration of new forklift brands and parts in the local market, the nomenclatures we operate with increased exponentially“ remembers Krasimir Karavassilev, Apex-Service’s owner. “In the past, we had as few as 15 000 nomenclature units. Shortly, they grew to tens of thousands.“ Given the increase, work has become increasingly difficult for the employees. Their responsibilities grow unceasingly and they get larger workloads which sometimes even confuse them. “The suppliers themselves are not only a greater number but they are also stricter to their local partners. Each of them protects its reputation and demands excellence out of Apex-Service“.
“The client profile is also getting more complex. While the company used to serve Balkancar’s customers in the past and its business activities were clearly and tightly focused, the penetration of new forklift brands has complicated its trade structure“ shares Ivan Koychev, Operations Director in Apex-Service.
The Decision: Business Consultants with Recommendations and Proven Experience In the beginning of 2015, with the appointment of Ms. Emilia Hroneva as CEO, the Apex-Service management takes the unanimous decision to select an external consultant in order to optimize the business, related to multiple activities, numerous trademarks and clients with different profiles. “We knew Next Consult, we collected information about their projects, about their specialists. This is why we decided to trust them.” share Ms. Hroneva and her colleague Karavassilev. “For a short time, they got to know our company. They studied our business and its specifics, made an analysis and a report with recommendations”. A month is necessary for the experts from Next Consult to go into detail in the specifics of the business of Apex-Service. “They gave us an absolutely objective evaluation of the company’s condition.”, are unanimous the company’s management today. “What we read did not leave us any doubt that they know what they are doing and that their recommendations will bring us benefits.”, added Mr. Koychev. Next Consult prepared a well-structured plan with specific initiatives, directed at optimizing the sales and customer service for end clients and distributors in the country and abroad. The overall effect from the measures aims at distinguishing and structuring the separate business activities as per the company’s business strategy and scale. For example, Apex-Service introduce differentiated product divisions for the key product groups. They replace the “flat” organizational structure, which once united the company activities in several large units. The market is divided into regions, which allows the Apex-Service experts to focus on the specifics of the separate regions. In parallel with this, a new Financial Director is appointed – Peter Gachkov, whose involvement as Finance and Administrative Director also contributes to the better structuring of the company activities.
The result: „THE CLIENTS – OUR KEY PARTNER!”
In view of the conclusions in the Next Consult report, a decision was taken to change the organizational structure of the company, which can be defined as a radical choice between the approaches of evolution and revolution, the Apex-Service management explain today. “There was no way for things to order themselves on their own, in a natural way”, remembers Ms. Hroneva. “We had to choose: whether to resign ourselves to the natural development, the evolution, risking to lose, or to undertake a decisive step forward and make a revolution”. The Apex-Service management are convinced that the changes in the organizational structure support the achievement of the long-term goals of the company – to double the sales within the next 5 years. The current figures show that this plan is being achieved, shares Ivan Koychev.
The market behavior of the company is much more focused. “All doors are open for us. We manage to reach places, where they have accepted us with disbelief before”, shares Ms. Hroneva. She and her colleagues are convinced that the new, clear organizational structure of the company gives confidence and clear focus to the Apex-Service specialists, which in turn changes the clients’ perception of them. “Thanks to the restructuring, we are now developing real relationships with our clients”, believes Ms. Hroneva. She shares that the clients are able to detect perfectly the expert, who with their attitude demonstrates that he knows what he is doing and treat him with respect. He is looked upon as a valuable partner. The partnership with the clients in turn means that we have a new sense for the pulse of the market. “Our partners provide us with much information about the market situation and the competition, and they share their personal experience with us. This guides us in the steps, which we need to undertake in order to remain ahead of the competition. We have a clear guide how to act and how to offer them something better in order to always be one step ahead.”, states Ms. Hroneva.