The operation of JULIUS-K9 in Pest County is hallmarked by offices, plants and numerous small supplier businesses.
In the midst of the continuous recruitment and training, and the constant building boom, it is not easy to interview Gyula Sebő, the founder of the brand, in person. I managed to do it only “in a hurry” while driving towards the Tisza Region. Everything points to the fact that this will be the preferred area of expansion of the largest manufacturer of dog equipment in Central and Eastern Europe.
– What’s wrong with Pest County? Why do you need to move on?
– It’s very simple. We have come full circle. In the past ten years we have acquired the textile, leather and plastic processing plants that we need for production, and not least the layer of employees willing to work. In South-Budapest, for example, our workshops have been taking away seamstresses from each other for years. Thus in the future our development projects worth billions of forints will need to serve primarily logistical purposes in Szigetszentmiklós, where practically the hub of our group of companies is located. We also had to face the consequences of the dismal end of the textile industry. As the past twenty years have mercilessly destroyed the profession. The closed plants left behind a mass of unpaid bills and wages. No wonder then that the classrooms remained empty in the vocational schools. That is why we try to launch vocational training as well. The successful operation of seamstress training in Eastern Hungary, for example, seems a realistic venture. As the profession is still alive, although in deep agony. Mostly badly paying production units provide an uncertain livelihood to thousands of people. We are in an exceptional position as we manufacture top quality products and we are on a steady growth path. We are a Hungarian company, and we would like to rely on the expertise of primarily Hungarian people. The region, where we are heading now, from a business perspective is about taking advantage of the local conditions with as little expenditure as possible. Practically a sword is hanging over the heads of people working overtime on the sewing machines all the time. Irrespective of their performance, their livelihood is mostly constantly uncertain.
In Tiszaderzs 25 women wait for me, who were dismissed just before Christmas. In such cases I feel like crying, wondering whether it will be possible to restore the honour of the profession in the minds. How will I be able to convince the people to make their children sit in the classrooms and learn such a profession. This sounds worse than the burning of the rainforests, as in this case no seed that can be planted remains. These people are on a forced path, and will come to work to our workshops by no means because of the well-known good atmosphere.
– But time will heal these wounds, won’t it?
– Definitely. However, in the villages the training of young people, the search for talents – as there is such a thing – is like a utopia. As news spread like wildfire. Good ones also, but they are hard to believe. However, I am lucky in that since my childhood, to use canine terminology, I have been the leader of the pack. With appropriate oratorical and psychological skills. The bigger the problem, the more I am helped by intuition. Here, just as in other cases, we will prove them wrong through our deeds. We will quickly find the leader type people and start the work. This part will certainly work.
– Why was Tiszaderzs chosen?
– A lot depends on the attitude of the local government, its willingness to cooperate. Obviously, we need to have personal ties to the region. The first man for the firsts steps should be “recruited” through references from family and friends within the company. Here everything went well. We do not really have the time for longer consultations, because 2015 is the year of doubling at JULIUS-K9. Our aim is to offset the so far disproportionately high sales in Germany, to conquer new continents.
– Very great plans. How long can you go on like this?
– Personally, I have always strived for stability. My plans are made and implemented not in order to seek profit, but in order to create a balance. For me it will never be acceptable that the foundations of our existence are based on over-dependence or, God forbid, defencelessness. If this were so, I could never show credibility to our people. Therefore, my business plan is prepared years in advance. Our products can conquer the market anywhere in the world. I do not intend to retire yet for a long time.
– It’s like a game of chess.
– Maybe, but you know, chess has always bored me. Perhaps because of the boring colours of the pieces. Those who live and work around me are not only and exclusively white or black. They are heart and soul people, who can change. It makes everything so exciting. In chess there is no peace and alliance, or any kind of cooperation. In my view, life with the employees without emotions and empathy is a joyless company policy. For me the victories are the most beautiful when seen on the faces of my employees, and the defeats inspire me to continue development. It is quite possible that it is primarily because of them. If I wanted to sum this up in a company motto, it would be something like this
JULIUS-K9 is a people-oriented business… for dogs