When the Foness Designwerk GmbH Stately sofas made in Kosovo are exhibited in Vienna's Ringstrasse gallery today, this is one of them Business partnership with the Austrian Development Agency ADA Thanks to. "Without this funding, we would never have enjoyed the development work in Kosovo," explains Andreas Fritz, who coordinates the project in Kosovo.
Foness Designwerk, an SME with eight employees, is one of the top 5 outfitters of student, service or hotel apartments in German-speaking countries. 777 units in Hamburg, 235 in Vienna, 344 in Freiburg, 150 in Munich, a 5-star hotel in Berlin, apartments in London ... these are the references - the service provider's range of action is constantly growing with the international activities of its clients. Foness founder Frank O. Nessler outlines the field of activity as follows: “In cooperation with property developers, architects and real estate companies, we take on all planning, design, implementation and assembly tasks in the area of interior fittings for small and large objects, from kitchen and bathroom to to curtains and cutlery. "
With ADA as a partner
Several well-known manufacturers such as Leicht, Nolte or Küppersbusch enjoy partner status among the suppliers of Foness Designwerk. Nessler is preferably looking for the other producers in the EU. “Because”, explains the native of Vorarlberg, “we are a premium supplier and give a five-year guarantee on every piece of furniture. That is why we rely on quality, proximity and a well-founded basis of trust. "
He was brought to Kosovo on the recommendation of Andreas Fritz, who was head of the Austrian Development Cooperation Office in Pristina around ten years ago. The reason was the search for a furniture manufacturer who could meet the special requirements of the Anglo-Saxon region for furniture production to the necessary extent. Nessler found what he was looking for in the municipality of Vushtri, about 25 kilometers outside the capital Pristina. And agreed to make this and other furniture manufacturers fit for export to the EU in order to develop reliable suppliers in the long term.
Fritz, who now works for Foness, gives further insight into the motifs: “In 2018 we carried out a sector analysis in Kosovo and looked at a large number of companies. There are also larger producers there who would have been a better fit for us because they are very professional, export over 90 percent and have their own showrooms all over Europe. However, they lacked the flexibility to adapt to our needs. "
When ADA promised Foness Designwerk GmbH funding for the transfer of know-how to medium-sized Kosovar furniture manufacturers at the beginning of 2019, Nessler went to work with commitment. ADA program manager Edith Mychalewicz justifies the commitment with reference to the expected creation of new jobs and local added value in a structurally weak region in the future wood industry.
New start for Loni Dekor
The expectations were fulfilled, if not in the originally planned way. Because of the two companies interested in further development, the one who had mastered the special woodworking technology that was being sought jumped out. "Right from the start there were communication difficulties with this partner," explains Fritz, "but above all, he was convinced that he could be successful in his own way."
The situation was different with the older Loni Dekor, run by two brothers, which the Austrians came across by chance. The two owners saw a great opportunity to put their business on a new footing with the help of advice and training from Nessler and his team. And they were ready for an expansion of the purchasing, production and logistics capacities as well as a revision of the work processes. Over the past three years, Foness employees have given the entire Loni Dekor crew around 300 days of theoretical and practical instruction.
At the same time, the Kosovar manufacturer enlarged its production hall and warehouse, set up a showroom and, in addition to other wood processing machines, also acquired packaging machines and logistics software for the first time. The production of 250 sofas, which Foness needed for Hamburg, was the first order. After several attempts, Loni Dekor succeeded in producing sample sofas that corresponded to the specifications. In the meantime, the company has delivered hundreds of sofas and also served numerous other clients in the EU.
“There were massive deficits in the understanding of quality and quality control as well as how export and forward transactions are to be set up,” says Fritz looking back at the beginnings, “including how to pack pallets or prepare papers for customs - there was nothing in the entire logistics area Experience. ”Today he is amazed every time he visits. The productivity of Loni Dekor has more than doubled and the workforce tripled to 180 employees. For this purpose, the owners built another storage and production hall - on the recommendation of Foness with climate-friendly heating and ventilation. "For Loni Dekor, the cooperation meant a switch in the entire management", says the project coordinator.
Until the beginning of 2022, Fritz wants to support the Kosovar partner with the publication of a furniture catalog and the ISO certification for quality and the environment. Otherwise he is already working on a follow-up project. Foness wants to counteract the noticeable shortage of skilled workers in Kosovo together with other Austrian companies from the wood industry with a dual training program.
Foness Designwerk GesmbH stands with Foness Service GmbH under the umbrella of Foness GmbH, which the wood processing specialist and business economist Frank Nessler founded in 2003 in Vienna. With the two companies he combines planning and purchasing of home furnishings with their installation and maintenance. Customers are mostly international real estate companies.
Here you can find reports on further business partnerships between the Austrian Development Agency and various partners:
•Retrieval of the forest: About a reforestation project in Kosovo by the cellulose fiber company Lenzing.
• Pasture instead of coal: About the expansion of the biomass market in Serbia by an international consortium led by E3 International.
• Window for innovation about the support of the social entrepreneur supporter Ashoka Austria in transferring successful tools to East Africa.
• Can hear! about the facilities of a wide range of hearing health services in Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast through the hearing implant manufacturer MED-EL.
• Hygiene on the farm about the market preparations of the Calvatis company in Brazil
• App helps with the number one topic about a Covid-19 consultation for doctors and nurses in developing countries by MedShr
• Use instead of burning on the lobbying for flare gas instead of imported diesel in traffic in Nigeria by ETEFA
• Professionals forge on the establishment of a training center for technical professions in Kosovo by Hysni Ymeri
• Cashew Business on the establishment of local processing of organic nuts in Tanzania by environmental consultant Paul Schreilechner