Established two decades ago as a family company, the Matić Upholstery today employs 74 workers in Gradiška. Their production is now round-up with two foam cutting machines that improve the company’s competitiveness and allow for less time from order to delivery.
Dušan Matić, an upholsterer and the company director, explains that the new vertical and horizontal air saw cuts the exact amount of material needed for the production and thus helps the environment by not producing unnecessary waste. Matić explains that they were forced to buy large quantities of foam before, since suppliers sell bulks in standard sizes, regardless of customer needs.
“It’s both easier and cheaper,” says Matić, adding that new machines allow for a faster production and reduce waste since large foam blocks are now precisely cut to the desired size. Also, excess material no longer occupies precious space in the production hall.
According to Dušan Matić, the early days were difficult. He started working in the 1980s as an upholsterer in the Furniture Factory Radnik, and at the same worked hard on making and covering furniture at home.
“I worked in the Radnik Company as an upholsterer – went there straight after my graduation. I then went to serve the army, and then back again to the Radnik Company. I was starting to do things here and there at home, from repairs to changing the chair covers,” Matić recalls.
In late nineties, with several of his colleagues, he started with upholstery on his property in the Cerovljani village near Gradiška. The upholstery business grew over time, so there was room for new production halls on the property.
One of the milestones was four years ago, with the Gradiška Municipality selling construction land to the south of the city to private companies, in the Agroindustry Business zone in Nova Topola, at a price of one BAM per square meter. The Matić family took advantage of this opportunity and set up a new factory in the business area.
“You won’t believe me but I get there every morning at 6:00 am. I am the last one to leave, I cannot even believe that this is really mine, but all with the help of my good people, my associates. Nobody turned their back on me, there was no backpedaling, people have only helped me,” says Matić.
“The production is expanding, new products are being introduced. We’ve been risking a lot, but it payed off eventually,” he says, adding that he has achieved it all with the help of his wife Dragana, daughter Gordana and son Goran, all working in production. Dragana’s sister Ljiljana Kojić is handling the company’s administration.
“It is all there now, we are cutting timber, foam, covering furniture,” explains Kojić and adds that finished products are exported to Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM and Serbia. It is buyers who find them.
One of the customers is also the Australian-based Harvey Norman, selling products from the Matić Upholstery on the market in Slovenia. Demir Trivun, a representative of this company, believes that the Gradiška-based company is a trusted partner with quality, flexibility and easy communication as their advantage. Based on his cooperation with several companies in BiH, Trivun sees the lack of skilled labor as a challenge.
“I believe there is a gap in the labor market. Consequently, this could mean a price increase. If this comes true, then prices, currently on the verge of being acceptable, will no longer be competitive, and that would lead to a lesser interest for cooperation with BiH companies.”