The Romanian entrepreneur who started from scratch and built a RON 270 million business in 10 years

Horaţiu Ţepeş, the 36-year-old entrepreneur from Braşov, rules the local roofing market through his company, Bilka. He has had a decisive influence upon the roofing market in Romania. He started this journey ten years ago, having nothing but ambition, zest for work and a clear picture of what he was to accomplish.

In 2012, after 5 years of activity, the company became the market leader, a position preserved ever since.

The company got its first revenues from the import of metal tiles. However, in 2008 when the economy was rather fragile, Horaţiu Ţepeş chose a path very much different from that of most start-ups. He invested in a production facility in Brașov, which ensured the further development of his business. The investments made so far amount to approximately EUR 20 million, being mainly supported by the company’s profit, European funds, and bank loans.

Most of such investments have targeted the development of the product and service range, the expansion of the production area, the increase of the factory’s efficiency and brand awareness campaigns. Bilka carries out its activity on a 45,000 sqm area in Brașov, having produced more than 50,000 roofs last year. In relation to the roofing market, estimated by the company at 36 million sqm in 2016, 1 out of 4 roofs sold in Romania is produced under the Bilka brand.

The company ended last year with a turnover of more than EUR 60 million, which is 41% above the one in 2015. In 2016, the company was considered for the third consecutive year as the largest consumer of pre-painted steel sheets in Romania, purchasing over 63,000 tons. Thanks to its investments, Bilka maintained the ascending trend of the previous years, reaching a turnover of RON 147 million in H1 2017, i.e. 54% higher versus the same period of 2016.

„54% business growth in H1, 2017“

Moreover, having consolidated its top position on the national roofing market in the last years, the company accessed the neighboring countries, as well. In 2016, Bilka exported complete roofing systems in the amount of RON 27 million. Export sales went up by 33% in H1, 2017, as compared to the same period of the previous year.

Following the EUR 20 million investments made during its 10 years of activity, Bilka continues to grow its business, while also relying on exports.

Foreign companies choose the roofs manufactured in Brașov, not only for the quality and competitiveness of the company’s products and services but also for the fact that they come along with the know-how provided by the manufacturer.

„In Romania, we have gone beyond bulk selling, as we have also focused on market development and education, and on the development of our partners. Not all our partners have a well-defined business strategy, a clear vision of their business objectives or of their development possibilities. This is where we come in and suggest new business directions. This has brought added value and we follow the same strategy abroad as well, where we already see the desired outcome. We do this because we want a sound business and we know that this requires a sound market and strong partners“ said the young entrepreneur.

2017 – premium products on the increase

Official studies in different fields show that Romanians have gone in favor of higher-value products in the past two years, which has determined growth in the consumption of premium products. This has been noticed with respect to current goods, but it equally applies to consumer durables, such as roofs. During the past 6 months, Bilka has sold 25% more premium products, as compared to the same period last year.

„The increase in premium product sales is mainly generated by the growing weight of such products in our portfolio. We identified this market need two years ago when we met clients that would rather have thicker products and special-finishing products, which they could not find on the market. This was an underdeveloped segment on the roofing market. In 2014, our portfolio included a special finishing, with technical specifications superior to those existing on the market at that time.

The demand has constantly increased since then, and a new finishing, GrandeMat, was launched this year. This is a Bilka product available in 8 different color shades. We are glad to see a growing interest in top products and we will continue to support this trend“, declared Horațiu Țepeș.

Strategy for the next decade

Horațiu Țepeș has many plans for the future, he still has a lot to achieve, he says. Just as in 2007 he had a clear picture of what he would do in the first 10 years of activity, he now knows exactly what he is about to do in the next decade. The medium-term strategy focuses on the launching into the production of insulated panels and turnkey halls, on the opening of production facilities in Europe and on boosting national sales.

The investment focus in the following years will be on the company’s vertical development, by enhancing the product range dedicated to the industrial sector, but also on its horizontal development, by targeting new sales markets. In 10 years‘ time, the entrepreneur wants his company to be a relevant regional player and European brand.

The business trend so far indicates that this is only a matter of time.

A new investment program is pending, dedicated to the industrial sector – the production of corrugated metal sheets, insulated panels, industrial profiles, structural liner trays, and turnkey halls, as well as the purchase of new production spaces.

„The strategy for this project has already been outlined and we are raising an investment budget of EUR 20 million for this.“ The budget will be ensured from the company’s profit and new financing sources, while also hoping for the release of the 2014-2020 European fund program. We are currently looking for the necessary land, a platform near the current one“, declared the entrepreneur from Brașov.

Article published in the Construction and Real Estate Yearbook 2017, Ziarul Financiar.