According to director Jūratė Kabalinienė, the COVID-19 pandemic brought UAB “Mittet”, the only company in the Baltic States that produces knitted “long-haired” material, or the so-called “artificial fur”, which can also stitch materials not only from yarn, but also with ultrasound, quite a few pros.
Sales of product segments changed
UAB Mittet has several product segments that performed differently during the pandemic. Sales of workwear and lining fabrics decreased, but revenues from the technical-purpose part increased significantly.
“Most of the technical products are used in the production of paint rollers. Sales in this area increased by about 20 percent. In addition, we started manufacturing laminated fabrics for a customer supplying overshoes to the NATO Army. Unfortunately, along with increased sales in several areas, raw material prices also increased. Therefore, we did not have any income that increased last year” says J. Kabalinienė.
In addition, in April-June last year, the company took the opportunity to release employees to partial downtime and receive state subsidies. There were cases of coronavirus in the company, but due to the organization of shift work and low-risk contact, it did not affect the company's operations.
2021 - changed, but easier
Asked how the management, work organization and other processes of UAB “Mittet” changed, the head of the company admits that 2020 was indeed more difficult. Last year they faced logistical challenges and transportation problems to the Scandinavian countries, but over time, things got better. This year, according to UAB “Mittet”, the transportation of raw materials from the Far East, exports to New Zealand, China, and container transportation prices have risen several times. In addition, the supply of polyester fiber from Belarus is stalled.
“Last year, we had to put aside investment plans and take on the challenge of working differently. We had to reorganize the work of the company, because the number and nature of orders and communication with customers changed, we could no longer participate in exhibitions, the supply of raw materials stalled. This year, it is a big disadvantage that we have unpredictably rising raw material prices, but a plus is that we have already learned to deal with the growing difficulties during the pandemic and have already managed to reorganize” says J. Kabalinienė.
A significant challenge, according to the head of the company, is the supply of raw materials, such as the lack of glue used to stabilize the fabric. As this product is produced by monopolists. They constantly use force majeure and you cannot be sure if you will get this raw material on time.
Challenges During the pandemic, the team of UAB “Mittet” learned to communicate remotely with customers and suppliers, the company's shareholders and co-workers. J. Kabalinienė is sure that although video conferencing cannot replace direct communication, it is especially convenient for solving everyday issues. In addition, the company's computer equipment was upgraded, and the use of an optical Internet cable was introduced, ensuring a fast Internet connection, for the installation of which the company is grateful to Skuodas municipality during the pandemic.
"Despite the fact that the company's turnover remains stable, a lot of tension remains and it feels like going to war every day" says the head of UAB “Mittet”.
"Turnover will not decrease this year due to diversified activities, but every day there are new challenges and the search for their solutions. This year we already want to visit physical exhibitions, that just cannot be replaced by digital fairs. In addition, such events often bring useful contacts.
For example, at “Techtextil”, a visitor from New Zealand who visited the “Mittet” booth found three new clients in that country. Be that as it may, I think we will not be able to visit the exhibitions this year" regrets J. Kabalienienė.
Diversifies and implements activities
UAB ”Mittet” products are a niche segment, the company's products are intended for the cold period of the year. So at the moment, the company's biggest challenges are economic problems, the pandemic and global warming.
“Our products - knitted long-haired knitted fabrics, quilted lining fabrics - are used for warm clothes. Due to global warming, the need for warm clothes is decreasing, therefore we are trying to increase the production of technical-purpose products - knitwear for the production of paint rollers, pilot supplies are made for the purpose of polishing air filtration machines. In addition,” she mentioned, “the knitted long-haired material can also be used to make sweaters, light outerwear”.
We are currently expanding production with a laminating gluing machine, performing commission services. We are increasing the purpose of quilting mattresses and furniture, the purpose of outerwear and leisure clothes” says J. Kabalinienė.
According to the head of the company, the company's survival during the more difficult times of the pandemic was greatly helped by various activities, different types of production, different customers, and different possibilities of using their products.
June 5 this year marks 20 years since we registered the company. We have been living successfully for 20 years. Our major shareholder has changed during this period. We are working successfully, and our story is a story of a successful business in Lithuania, therefore we promise not to stop and move forward” says J. Kabalinienė.