After talking with a certified producer last month, today, we would like to introduce you to a certified trader. As a certification scheme guaranteeing quality along the entire supply chain, ENplus® acknowledges the key role of traders in the pellet supply. Find out more about it from our interview with Mr. Niko Gustin, creative manager of X13 Anej Fric.
Dear Mr. Gustin, would you present your company with a few words? Tell us more about your operations in the Slovenian market?
We are a company built on values. A value that stands out at X13 Anej Fric s.p. is that we are a family company. Our goal is to structure a process, aimed at preparing products for the market, meaning that we have to integrate marketing, sales, service and quality at the top level of product and service development – the quality value itself represents a significant part of it all, and with that, the collaboration with ENplus® is crucial for our company and market.
The Slovenian population is, of course, smaller than that of the surrounding countries like Italy and Austria - with that, we, as a country, have always been trying to follow - not set - the trends. Because of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, Slovenia has an exceptional price for the electricity supply. That's why the pellet market is smaller, yet very demanding. Our goal is to inform and teach our customers and the market why pellets are the heating solution of the future and how to be assured that the goods they buy are of top quality. That´s why we constantly update our staff with new information, technology improvements and knowledge upgrades.
X13 s.p. exports pellets to other markets/countries such as Croatia and especially Italy where pellet heating is much more popular, at least for now. Having numerous bigger customers, we need to provide them with customized brands. Therefore, we currently produce 8 different pellet brands – and as packing and customizing bags are our main services, we are currently focusing on a new, revolutionary digital visualization, which makes it easier for the customers to understand how the design we created on a 2D surface / opened bag, would look on the final product / 3D Bag.
You are a certified pellet trader. How has the certification impacted your business?
We are quite new in the ENplus® world. We were always aware of its meaning and importance, even before getting certified. The fact that customers know its importance makes it easier for us to explain what we are selling and what is the quality of our goods.
At this point, for us too, it feels good to be part of a “family”, an organization which connects producers, traders and service providers from the same market. We are very happy and proud to have an organization such as ENplus® standing beside us and supporting us with quite the same goals and values – providing the best quality pellets to the market.
The Covid-19 pandemic changed our lives in many ways. This past winter, more than ever before, people stayed and worked from home. Based on your observations, did it lead to more pellet consumption in the local market and more sales for your company respectively?
The virus itself surely had a big impact on our lives - we were not ready for the changes that were coming in a forced way. Changing our lives from physical to digital was quite a challenge but as noticed, most businesses, schools and organizations successfully integrated digital work. People, being at home, of course, brought the pellet consumption to higher figures compared to 2019. For example, we’ve noticed an increase of 18 - 20%. With that in the equation, we had the chance to expand our market and introduce ourselves to new end-users and traders.
We think that most organizations and companies have understood the potential of remote work. That's why we believe it will remain present in our lives, with pellet consumption remaining at the levels we saw between 2019 and 2020.
What would you like to tell the people who have not discovered yet the benefits of using certified pellets?
As technology is impacting everything - from how we work to how we live our lives - only one company can be the cheapest. Everyone else needs something more. We have all been at the point where we didn't know much about certified pellets and their benefits. It is our job, as certified traders collaborating with ENplus® to teach people about what pellet quality means for them, for their heaters, and for our future.
Step by step, everyone will understand what it means to use ENplus®certified pellets. The main point is looking for long-term quality, not only short-term gains.
What is the mission of your company and how does ENplus® help you achieve it?
When a customer hears about X13 in the next 5 years, our mission is to certainly associate our brand with reliability, quality and customer-adjusted solutions. Our goal is to be leading our targeted market.
If you want to be a leader, you need to be ahead of the others. You have to be innovative; you have to do something that the customer was not expecting or did not know it was possible. We are working hard to make this vision reality in the shortest and most effective way possible.
Niko Gustin and the founders of X13 Anej Fric