For the Exporter “Imlitex Holdings”, the Lithuanian Market is Like a Business Testing Laboratory
Photo: “Imlitex Holdings” archive.
“Imlitex Holdings”, operating for 25 years since 1994, has maintained its headquarters in Kaunas while growing its product portfolio and expanding its business. Here, a quarter of a century ago, a group of friends graduated from the university and together established a business that became the largest company in the group of raw materials suppliers in Lithuania and the region. Not surprisingly, a company oriented to an export and international market “Imlitex Holdings” has won the “Expansion Abroad” nomination at this year’s Kaunas Growing Business Awards “K.A.V.A. 2019” for consistently and steadily growing export to more than 70 different foreign countries.
Lithuania is like a testing ground
When asked why the past year has been exceptional for growth in foreign markets, Vygandas Blandis, Chairman of “Imlitex Holdings”, says that 2018 can be considered another year of steady and planned growth: “We have always regarded Lithuania as a laboratory to test the sustainability of our business model and competitiveness. And once you do that, you can distribute your products and services into larger markets. This is no surprise: the Lithuanian industrial market is tiny, but as a laboratory, it gives accurate results. This is because a small market puts you under strong competitive pressure, so if you can be successful here, you will be able to expand into larger markets (of course, after evaluating the peculiarities of those markets)”.
The company has enough space for experiments. Starting from raw materials for the chemical industry, over several decades, “Imlitex Holdings” has grown into a multi-branch holding covering an increasing number of industries: from fertilizers or grains to synthetic rubber or biofuels.
Photo: Vygandas Blandis, Chairman of “Imlitex Holdings”, photo archive.
According to V. Blandis, like all companies, “Imlitex Holdings” faces both failures and challenges. Flexibility is the key to tackling emerging challenges and staying competitive: “For many years, our core motto has been ‘A value of the business – the art of change’. We follow it in our work: it is much easier for a flexible company to survive. Therefore, we are changing depending on how our customers and their portfolio changes”.
Due to careful market evaluation and flexibility in response to changes, raw material sellers are one step ahead. According to “Imlitex Holdings” Chairman of the Board, they often are the first ones to experience opportunities or problems of their customers.
“As a raw material supplier, we are the first indicator that industry or company is in trouble: for example, we noticed the crisis of 2008 at the end of 2007. When we see that the demand for raw materials is decreasing, we understand what is happening even before the company itself notices the impending challenge. And vice versa, the growing demand for raw materials indicates that the company is successfully selling and producing a product that is high in demand”.
In a race of competition, winners are determined by insight
Forecasts are also important in assessing industrial change: the ability of raw material distributors to predict how technology will change and what raw materials will be needed in the future will determine the success. “Let’s say if demand for fossil fuel is reducing and demand for renewable energy technologies is growing, then we need to be the ones who are reorienting and preparing for those changes. The same goes for the agro-food industry. Even global trends such as climate change are important,” says V. Blandis.
Currently, the diversified business portfolio consists of 7 main operating groups: agriculture, food, industry, textile, energy, plastics, and packaging. In total, “Imlitex Holdings” offers over 3,000 products to over 5,000 customers worldwide and ranks among the top 20 Lithuanian companies.
Its main business markets are Eastern Europe. In recent years the focus has been on the regions of Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland. The “Imlitex Holdings” group can provide a full range of services to manufacturers in a variety of fields, from energy supply to raw materials, warehousing, transportation, financing and consulting.
Photo: “Imlitex Holdings”, photo archive.
The company employs more than half a thousand people, 80% of whom work in Lithuania. Most of them work in Kaunas, but the company also has offices in Vilnius, Panevėžys, Kėdainiai, Kretinga and elsewhere.
According to the Chairman of the Board, the company does not feel the lack of employees and can be proud of the very small staff turnover. “This is especially attractive to partners who have been working with us for decades and are able to connect with the same people who know their needs best. On the other hand, we want that people would appreciate their potential in the market, that’s why we don’t try to limit them by contracts or long-term commitments. We believe that only motivated employees who are willing to work with us will create the maximum value for themselves, for us and our clients,” says V. Blandis.
“What else could we need? To have more foreigners working in our company: internationality would bring undoubted benefits to the company. We gladly welcome such people and we already have more than one employee that has returned from emigration: this is a great trend,” says the Chairman of the Board, adding that Ukrainian specialists will probably join the team in the future.