Andrew Nugée and Catalin Goldan discuss and reflect on the first year of their partnership
Andrew Nugée, Imagineear Founder and CEO, during his recent visit to Romania, met with Imagineear’s Regional Representative, Catalin Goldan. Here, they discuss and reflect on the first year of their partnership.
Andrew Nugée (AN): When and how and why did you start in this business?
Catalin Goldan (CG): I previously established the Eastern European branch for an international audioguide provider, and we then went on to develop a warehouse here in Romania which eventually became the global service centre for the company, worldwide. So, it’s about what? Seven years now!
AN: And briefly, before 2015, what were you doing? Were you doing anything with audio or with distribution or warehousing?
CG: Actually, before 2015 I managed other projects. I was involved in the local municipality: municipal projects, tourism projects … And then a staff member from the audioguide provider, we had a common network let’s say, heard about our work in the municipality and offered me the opportunity to build a warehouse here because they had decided to move their operations from Livingstone, Scotland. I discussed this handover with the Mayor, quit the local government project and committed myself to this new project. It started off like a start-up, was in effect a start-up. We built the office and established the processes from scratch here in Romania.
AN: So, when you say you built the office and processes …?
CG: I developed everything. I mean, the warehouse, the team, the repair and maintenance process, the shipping and storage, organizing shifts … Everything. Then in 2017, the Logistics Manager gave me the opportunity to manage the logistics at the same time. It was another challenge for me at that moment, to manage all of the logistics operations of an import / export company, because we imported everything in Romania and we managed a lot of moving shipments to Romania and all over Europe.
AN: Can you give me a sense of the scale of that operation?
CG: Yes, it was about 400k dollars annually, the budget. And if we are talking about numbers here, movement of maybe 15 thousand devices and chargers, yearly. But my task was also to optimize everything because I was tasked with optimizing the worldwide warehouses. So, over time, I consolidated all warehousing and shipping to Romania. This meant closing the US operation because it was proving too expensive.
AN: How many warehouses were there before everything was consolidated in Romania?
CG: We had two in the USA, one in the UK, in London and one in Livingstone, Scotland, so four.
AN: And then all the warehousing, all the shipping, all the storage was consolidated here in Romania?
CG: Yes, and all of the repairs too. We did the assembly, and also for headphones. We had maybe 25 technicians at that time working on repairs and assemblies, and we imported all of the parts to Romania from China.
AN: And then you and I met exactly one year ago today, the 6th of July 2021!
CG: Yes and another chapter was started and that completely changed our operation.
Because of the pandemic we had to reduce numbers for sure and we were also left in a very unfortunate position by the audioguide provider, a year ago.
Imagineer offered us a chance and at the same time, I believe you saw the opportunity to gain from a knowledgeable team and a good location, to continue the operations – not only limited to existing devices.
AN: I agree with that and that was our intention. We saw in Romania two separate objectives and opportunities. One was to use your experience in warehousing, shipping and repairs and so on. The second was to try, with you, to build a client base in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
CG: Yes. And I need to thank you. You’re the only one who had the confidence that there was the opportunity to develop sales in this region!
AN: So one year later, how do you feel about our collaboration?
CG: First of all, a year ago Imagineer offered to me and my team, the chance to continue operations.
It’s about the trust first and then it’s about successful business, for sure. And one year later I’m very happy because Imagineear was able to agree a budget for Romania, and has delivered on their word, month by month.
As we prove ourselves, we would like to continue, increasing in scale and scope. We have provided more and more services in the last four months as the economy has begun to come back to life following the pandemic.
AN: And you work closely with your colleague, Stefan Pascu? He has, on occasion, travelled to client sites for installation, hasn’t he?
CG: Yes and much more in the last few years than previously. The most recent was in Valencia. He oversaw the delivery and installation of multimedia devices with chargers and router systems. He provided excellent service, reassuring clients and, at the end of the day, it’s about happy clients.
AN: And I know, in the case of Valencia, the client was very happy and remarked on Stefan’s professionalism.
CG: Yes. Stefan and I strive constantly to provide the highest quality service.
Now we would like to turn our attention to building a client portfolio in the Balkans. So you ask if I’m happy? Yes, I’m very happy. A year later I found a good team with Imagineear and the process is working well at multiple levels. I’m in touch with staff and senior management alike, and this is very important. Money is budgeted, our operations are well planned, I communicate with staff and with the Board as required. What could be the better!?
AN: So, working with Imagineear, you’ve mentioned a few things like the level of trust and the encouragement we gave you to develop your own region from a sales perspective. Is there anything else which strikes you about working with Imagineear?
CG: Yes, first of all, it is about the trust here. It is also about communication and it’s about planning. I am comfortable knowing Imagineear intend to optimize company money and I always work with this strategy in mind. I can feel that the company is very attentive and careful, with our previous partnership spending was chaos!
AN: So looking forward, what are you focussed on now and what are your intentions for the business here in Romania in the short term?
CG: Actually, my focus now is to get two or three clients as soon as possible. Discussions and all of the due diligence started half a year ago. Operations are well established now – we triaged the warehouse, we recycled. I feel the operations are on a very sound footing with Stefan and the technicians. Now, I can focus on sales.
I’m very confident about getting clients to Imagineear. Romania is starting to develop in the cultural domain and clients can apply for European grant money. My main focus is to develop sales in this eastern part of Europe. Not only Romania, but also Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia.
AN: So what would your guess be? Where will we be in three years’ time?
CG: I think our partnership will be even stronger by 2025. We will be larger. We will have, I think, a bigger presence here in Romania and will be larger, from both the point of view of the warehouse and sales.
AN: And in ten years’ time, by 2032?
CG: This is a long term partnership, I feel just as positive about the future in 10 years’ time! What do you think?
AN: I have a prediction. In ten years’ time, you’ll be mayor of Piatra Neamt, if not Iasi! I see it as completely inevitable! Thanks Catalin – I have enjoyed our discussion, a year to the very day since we last met here in Romania.
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Imagineear is a leading innovator in the provision of multimedia content and technology solutions. We design and produce multilingual content, which we often integrate with existing archive materials, as well as live audio. We publish to smartphones, and to smart devices on-site, working with sports venues, cultural sites and the healthcare sector. In London and Amsterdam we have experienced content, hardware, software and data solution teams. Our goal is to help our clients deliver exceptional value and memorable experiences to their visitors, both on- and off-site. www.imagineear.com