Whetec S.R.L – the story of a team of 70 people from Straseni, Moldova, which produces components for Dacia, Renault, Peugeot, Nissan, Opel and Land Rover
When we talk about factories that produce car components in Moldova, it seems that the stereotype of large buildings, where hundreds or even thousands of people work, has already been established. But in addition to those admirable companies, there are beautiful stories on a smaller scale, but which have already managed to achieve great things, even if they operate not in the capital, but in smaller cities of Moldova. Moreover, if you look at the impact they have had on their community, you realize how much a small team can change the quality of life when it comes to thinking globally and doing great things.
We invite you to meet such a small team, from Straseni, which started its activity 3 years ago from a number of only 4 people. Yes, 4 people, who were just starting in a factory, which today came to produce a lot of components for Dacia, Renault, Nissan; Peugeot, Opel, Jaguar and Land Rover, but also for John Deere agricultural machinery and even luxury yachts. It’s about Whetec, a team you probably haven’t heard of in Moldova, because all their products go directly for export, the company operating as a resident of the Balti Free Economic Zone in the Straseni branch of ZEL. Alexandru Magnet, the leader of this team of 70 people today, showed us the whole production process of what is happening today in Straseni.
It all started in 2017 when the French group T Connect was looking for a place for a new factory, which they wanted to build. The French contact the chambers of commerce responsible for French relations in Romania and Moldova. The one in Moldova was faster in response and the people there took over the talks in helping the French to put them in touch with local people, who would like to get involved in the local project. At the same time, the Moldovan-French Chamber of Commerce had Alexander’s contacts, as he had studied at a university in France. So Alexander was called there one day to ask if he was interested. He acted immediately.
A period of analysis, calculations and sketching of the business plan followed. Then the French investors decided in favour of Moldova and decided to go for implementation, obtaining the status of member of the free economic zone, in the Straseni branch. The site of the factory today, however, was a dilapidated building that promised to be renovated. Given the good experience of the Balti FEZ in what they have done in several regions of the country, both Alexandru and the French investors were confident that the building will be brought to a decent condition, as promised. which happened.
Photo: This is what the building in Straseni looked like when it was decided to form today’s factory
The operational phase began in 2018, with those 4 employees and an initial investment of only 400,000 euros. It was more of a period of preparation for the factory, of the beginning of the assembly of the actual team, which was to be part of the production process. And today, as I said, they have reached 70 people. So, what is happening in Straseni by this team?
Sensors and cables attached to the sensors are mostly produced here. And when it comes to sensors – their diversity is great – from gas sensors used in car engines to sensors like those used in Parktronic systems. Those in Straseni plan to expand production to liquid sensors as well. But, at present, the sensors produced in Straseni are found on models such as Dacia Duster, Peugeot 3008 and other models of the brands mentioned above. In the case of the 3008, for example, in Straseni, the entire set of Parktronic sensors and all their associated cables are produced, which are attached to the bumper.
The end customer, however, is not the manufacturer itself, but OEMs in the automotive industry, who, for example, assemble those complete bumpers and then supply them to the machine assembly plant. And that’s because the sensors produced on Whetec Straseni end up being part of whole modules, usually.
The team from Straseni also delivers such sensors and cables to agricultural equipment, especially those from John Deere. And last year, in the context of a pandemic in France, they had special orders to produce and deliver electrical systems for field hospitals, used by French army and NATO troops, as support for pandemic red zones. And a month ago, they started delivering the entire electrical wiring system for all the luxury yachts produced by Dufour Yachts! So, imagine that a small team of people from Straseni, Moldova, produces the whole essence of the electric system for luxury yachts!
The logistics used by the factory in Straseni assume that all their production goes directly to France, to the distribution center of the parent company, and from there to the corresponding plants. It is interesting that because Moldova exports so little from France, the people of Straseni faced the problem of the permanent lack of free trucks going to France in regular flow, so they bought their own truck, which they use as a basis for permanent deliveries, and only when they have larger waves of orders and it does not cope, contact additional carriers. And, of course, the status of a resident of the free economic zone that they have allows them to have a fast logistics of import of the raw material and export of the finished products. Just two days after leaving Moldova, a product can already be in the warehouse in France.
For their clients, those from Straseni are the smaller company, which can react faster to ad-hoc requests, but at the same time can deliver consistently based on long-term contracts. For the local community, this relatively small factory is a job that offers the 70 people decent wages, and work in regular hours, without night shifts, which is very popular in the cities and villages of Moldova, as Alexandru mentioned, because this way those who work here have the opportunity to dedicate enough time to their family.
And he says that his greatest pride was when he saw in a Land Rover model the operation of components that he knew he and his team had produced. He tells us that Land Rover has some of the most advanced requirements for their wiring, requiring additional insulation, including sound insulation, so that those cables do not vibrate inside and subsequently produce sounds in the passenger compartment, and on next to that are all sorts of sophisticated electronic requirements. But all this is done for perfect premium comfort, which they, as suppliers, understand thoroughly. And when he saw the end result on a modern Land Rover model, he was proud to see that there, after that sophisticated interior lighting in a premium model, are actually hiding products that a team from people of ours produce, from Moldova, from the city of Straseni!
The article and photos were taken from: https://piataauto.md/Stiri/2022/01/Istoria-nestiuta-a-unei-echipe-de-70-de-oameni-din-Straseni-Moldova-care-produce-componente-Dacia-Duster/
Author: Ilie Toma, Journalist, www.piataauto.md