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Sachs: Incentive parity vital

Seven years' experience in Slovakia has turned German producer of car clutches Sachs, with operations based in Trnava, into an expert on the country's business climate. The Slovak Spectator met with Peter Doll, general manager of the company's sole central European plant, to hear his views on how much the climate has changed over that time and how Sachs views its investment.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): How satisfied is Sachs with its Slovak investment?
Peter Doll (PD): This is the only factory that we have in central Europe. We have invested about 25 million Deutschmarks here, increased the number of employees to 650 people and helped build up another company with 200 employees. On top of that, Sachs is going to grow twofold in the next three to five years. These figures show that we are satisfied in Slovakia.


Sachs' general manager Peter Doll
photo: Courtesy Sachs

Seven years' experience in Slovakia has turned German producer of car clutches Sachs, with operations based in Trnava, into an expert on the country's business climate. The Slovak Spectator met with Peter Doll, general manager of the company's sole central European plant, to hear his views on how much the climate has changed over that time and how Sachs views its investment.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): How satisfied is Sachs with its Slovak investment?

Peter Doll (PD): This is the only factory that we have in central Europe. We have invested about 25 million Deutschmarks here, increased the number of employees to 650 people and helped build up another company with 200 employees. On top of that, Sachs is going to grow twofold in the next three to five years. These figures show that we are satisfied in Slovakia.


TSS: What kind of problems have you faced since your establishment in 1993?

PD: We haven't really been faced with any major problems that we weren't able to handle ourselves, that might make us contemplate leaving this country.


TSS: What are the positives and drawbacks of investing in Slovakia?

PD: Talking about infrastructure in our particular case, the Trnava region has a perfect connection with the rest of Europe. We have a highway a few kilometres from the company, it is also very close to the borders. As far as the quality of labour goes, we are more than satisfied.


TSS: Has Sachs received any assistance or help from the government over the last seven years?

PD: We haven't asked for any and we haven't been offered any.


TSS: Sachs has been running its facility in Slovakia since 1993. How much has the business climate changed since then?

PD: One positive now is that regional offices invest into attracting other businesses. On the other hand, my understanding here is that these offices by law don't have as much power to help an investor as they have in other countries.

Another issue is the availability of skilled labour on the market, which has decreased, and for us it has become more difficult to find these people. When I came here five years ago, it was much easier to find skilled labour than it is now. It seems that demand for the people we employ is growing as more companies of our kind are coming to Slovakia, but the labour force is still the same size.

I think the reason for it is that schools don't have as much money as they used to in the past, and are not able to turn out the kind of skilled workers which our industry needs.


TSS: What advice would you give to foreign investors coming to Slovakia?

PD: I would advise them not to go further than western Slovakia and stay by the highway in the Nitra, Trnava, Trenčín and Dubnica nad Váhom regions. I also wouldn't recommend they go very close to Bratislava because the unemployment rate there is very low and the labour market smaller than in the rest of the country [Trnava is 50 kilometres from Bratislava - ed.note].


TSS: What legislative changes would you welcome as a foreign investor?

PD: I would look at this question from a slightly different angle. I would really like to see if Slovakia will design its legislation to be on a par with Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland because the competition [for FDI] is not, for example, with Germany or Britain but with these three countries.

So, whatever these countries have in law, whether it's tax or any any other form of incentives designed for foreign investors, they have to approve this in Slovakia too.

Why would an investor choose Slovakia over Hungary when its legislation is more difficult than that in Hungary? I think that Slovak legislation is still lagging behind.

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