Operations Report

Forest-Papír: the new shape of paper in Hungary

Since starting in 1994, Forest Papír has become a force in the Hungarian market for disposable products, thanks to the insight of its founder, ongoing product development, and attention paid to customers and employees alike. Now it is ready to take on new challenges

(L-r) Laszlo Kroer, deputy engineering manager, Gianfranco Cerutti, Omet Nord GmbH director, Ildiko Palfi, production manager, and Jozsef Haraszti, engineering manager.

From the outset, back in 1994, the philosophy was simple: to supply the Hungarian market with disposable paper products by dedicated production. Demand for the products was booming, but the multi-nationals could not cope with the size of the market and volumes required. Enter Ferenc Bodrogai, a graduate engineer in paper and cellulose converting, who had often considered this idea during the 15 years he spent in management at one of the leading tissue making companies in the market. Then, he could not turn his ideas into reality – now, he could.

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of the tissue market and its production technology, he set up a new company with three partners, two of whom are still actively involved, and Forest-Papír Kft was born in 1994.

Today, Forest-Papír is the benchmark for its products in Hungary. With the mantra “It is a good thing to achieve a good result with good people” to inspire Ferenc Bodrogai, chief executive and major shareholder of Forest-Papír Kft, the company appears to have found a winning formula.

Four production sites, three warehouses for storing finished products, more than 230 employees and around 80 partners in supporting companies indicate the size of the operation at Forest-Papír.

The company is based in Lábatlan, a small town in the north of Hungary, close to Slovakia, where it manufactures its branded products in rolls. One plant focuses on the production of low-price items, both in rolls and folded, while another plant specializes in high-quality napkins, and is thought to be the largest of its type in the European Union. Another plant concentrates on the manufacture of tissues.

This large and complex company covers all the main segments of the market for disposable paper products: from bath towels to table mats, and from napkins to tissues. While bath towels rank first in company turnover for volume and value, Forest-Papír’s core business is still the production of napkins. It was no accident that Forest-Papír invented a single-fold napkin with very high print quality and special embossing, which met with great success.

Generally, high quality is the norm for Forest-Papír’s products. However, because of the global economic problems, which are also affecting Hungary, the company has launched a series of medium and low-price products, manufactured using highly productive equipment from raw materials sourced at a competitive price to quality ratio. Currently, the majority of Forest-Papir’s output is consumed by the domestic Hungarian market, sold through important local retailing chains. But its short-term goal is to become the leading supplier to neighbouring markets, and it already distributes its products in 14 different countries.

Product innovation and research are two of the main factors that have driven the company’s development in recent years. Working to its slogan “Forest, the new shape of paper”, the company has in many cases revolutionized the concept of disposable paper products at local market level. In addition to the single-fold napkins already mentioned, Forest introduced the first scented and coloured tissue in 100-piece packs that are a speciality of the Hungarian market, the first 24-roll packet of toilet paper, and the first multifunction paper bath-towel into the Hungarian market.

The key-account managers play a leading role in the development of these new products. Their in-depth technical expertise in the field of converting and first-hand knowledge of the market allow Forest- Papír to supply its customers with tailor-made solutions in the shortest time.

TV 503 napkins production machine by Omet.

However, the company is strongly oriented towards meeting the satisfaction not only of its customers but also of its employees, who play a key role in keeping the organization competitive. This results in a keen environmental awareness and the provision of a range of services that include a gym with a fitness instructor and a masseur, and special financial advisers for private investments, all of who play an active part in improving the quality of life within the company. This model business decided long ago to support its development with Omet technology. In 2000 it bought its first Omet, a second hand 501 model with four printing units, which allowed it to begin napkin production. Shortly after, it added two more second hand Omet folding machines.The following 4 line came from SDF to specialise in high quality print.

Most recently, in May 2009, Forest-Papír installed its first new Omet, a TV 503 model with 3 printing units for the production of napkins. “To meet the demand for high productivity and excellent print quality in the medium/low price product market, we needed to find a partner that would be able to able to support us,” Bodrogai explained. “After an exhaustive search, we turned to Omet technology because we knew, from our experience with the second hand machines, how good it was,” he added.

According to Bodrogai, the level of satisfaction with Omet is very high. “We are extremely satisfied with the machine and level of service support they offer. The machine has excellent folding precision and is extremely quiet,” he concluded.