INTERVIEW WITH GEORGI PETKOV, CEO OF BTL INDUSTRIES
How has a Bulgarian company reached the position of one of the global leaders in medical equipment manufacture?
BTL Industries is part of the Czech company BTL, which has been on the Bulgarian market for 20 years now. Initially, a trade representation was established in Bulgaria and a few years later part of the manufacture, international service and logistics were transferred to our country. Today the entire manufacture of finished goods and medical couches is concentrated in Bulgaria. The company‘s products are exported to over 100 countries.
BTLIndustries is one of the three largest physiotherapy manufacturers in the world and has leading positions in the field of cardiology and aesthetic medicine. This achievement is a result of an effective organization of the manufacturing process, a unique product portfolio and a strong and professional team.
It is an honour for us that in Bulgaria, in the city of Plovdiv, are manufactureddevices that help thousands of people around the world be healthier and even save human lives. We do business with a mission and this is our greatest motivation to develop, to create new technologies and to find innovative solutions to a number of healthy problems.
What kind of health problems can be treated with the products of BTL Industries?
BTLIndustriesworks in three major fields – physiotherapy, cardiology and aesthetic medicine. We are striving to create products, achieving quick and long-lasting results and to find solutions to health problems that haven’t been treated successfully so far.
An important element of our product portfolio is the devices that treat locomotor disorders. These technologies are used even by athletes, because they significantly shorten the recovery period and the results are visible right after the first procedures. Some of the most famous sportsmen like the boxer Wladimir Klitschko, the footballers of Real Madrid and the national teams of Portugal and Brazil are treated with the products of BTL Industries.
Another key priority of our company is cardiology. The medical equipment of BTL for cardiology tests and diagnostics is among the best on the market in terms of reliability. Our devices enable high-quality and accurate diagnostics of a number of diseases. One of our most revolutionary productsis the SDS module, assisting in the prevention of sudden cardiac death that every year kills about 40 000 Bulgarians, including professional athletes. Thanks to this system, which has been integrated in the standard ECG test, specialists conduct more thorough testing and afterwards take measures that can save patients’ lives.
What are your plans for development in Bulgaria?
The future plans of BTLIndustries are focused on continuing the dynamic development in Bulgaria. Our objective is to achieve 30% growth in sales in 2018. In the next few months there will be a significant expansion in our manufacturing capacity that will result in increasing the number of employees with 30%.
Certainly, our key priority is to continue our cooperation with Bulgarianhospitals and medical centres and even to expand our network of partners, so that more patients could have access to quality treatment and unique aesthetic procedures.
Does the Bulgarian labour market have well-prepared specialists for your industry?
BTLIndustrieshas found a working solution to the labour shortage problem. Of course, our efforts are focused on attracting specialists with rich experience and a wide knowledge of our industry, but the other effective approach we have adopted is to create ourselves the employees we need. That is why we invest considerable funds and efforts in the training of the people who work in our company. Thus, we help them develop and grow in their career. The trainings in BTL are focused both on acquiring knowledge related to the employees’ job responsibilities, and on improving their soft skills. Our colleagues can benefit from free English and Spanish lessons and can take books from the company’s library.
As a result of this policy, today we have a very good, experienced and productive staff. Under these conditions, it is much easier toexpand the team even with people with a little experience, because with the support of their colleagues they quickly become aware of the production process and adapt to the work model.
Due to the expansion of BTL Industries business, many new jobs will be opened. That is why I advise everybody, who wants to work in an innovative and fast developing company, to look at the vacant positions on our website and to apply even if they have a little experience. Our team has the willing and the capacity to train new employees and help them learn and improve.
How do you cope with the strong competition for employees in the region of Plovdiv?
Our major priority is to constantly strengthen the position of BTL Industries as a good employer. We are striving to develop our corporate culture and to maintain a positive and motivating work environment. What distinguishes us from most companies in the region is the innovative work model. Another advantage is the flexible working time that is even unusual for manufacturing companies. Our employees have the freedom to organize their working day the way they want – they can come to work when they decide as long as they complete their tasks. This practice allows them to maintain a balance between personal and professional life.
This approach seems to be extremely effective, because the level of stress, which usually accompanies the manufacturing process, is minimized and the team is much more productive. Another key principle we follow is that everybody makes mistakes. That is why we have tolerance for mistakes, as long as they are not repeated.
How do you maintain the engagement and motivation of your employees?
In BTL we appreciate the everyday efforts of our staff and that is why we offer our customers competitive remuneration, performance-based bonuses as well as bonuses for Christmas and Easter.We have a very well-developed employee benefits package, including additional health insurance, food vouchers, Christmas gifts, vouchers for sports and art events. We are striving to maintain the motivation of the staff as organizingdifferent trainings and courses. In this way our employees can develop their potential and gradually grow in the company’s hierarchy. Everybody who starts work in BTL has the opportunity to reach a higher position and make a successful career as long as they demonstrate particular qualities.
What is most important for me as a CEO of BTL Bulgaria is that our employees feel happy in the company. Our corporate culture is based on trust, proactivity,honesty and equal opportunities for development. The relations in our team are informal and friendly no matter what the position of the employees is. Our managers communicate freely with the workers and ask them for their opinion on important issues. In this way our colleagues are actively engaged in the company’s life and put a lot of effort into our common success.
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