We strive to offer high quality for an affordable price
Interview with Guntars Sembergs, Member of the Board at RIPO International Ltd, SIA
RIPO International is a Latvian company established in 1993 by people who came from the same family and classmates that shared the same dreams to pave their road to the bright future of home improvement. RIPO’s story began in a small basement on the historical Alberta Street in Riga, and in the past 25 years the company has grown into a large enterprise with many local clients and more than one-third of production being exported to Scandinavian countries. From garage doors, decorative tiles and insect screens, to furniture, wallpapers and providing and advice on interior related questions, RIPO has earned the trust of Latvian and foreign home owners, receiving various awards for the high quality and innovative solutions they’ve brought to the market.
How did RIPO International came into existence?
25 years ago, Uģis Arents and his uncle came up with an idea to establish a company Riga and Portland, nowadays known as RIPO. They started out with selling roofing, but, as time went, one after another siding, gates and other things were offered to the clients. At that time everything was imported from Canada and, only after some time we started to manufacture everything here, in Riga. In Latvian “RIPO” means “to roll”, and can be used to express good things happening, like “lietas ripo” (things are rolling, constantly moving), “viss ripo labi” (everything is great, the movement is flawless, without any obstacles). We liked how the word sounds and brings up positive associations, so we decided to keep the name.
Why did you choose this industry at the time?
As I mentioned, at the beginning we imported the gates from Canada, but unfortunately, they didn’t meet our quality expectations. The production was of an American quality which is known to be slightly lower than the European quality. Receiving a condemnation from our competitors regarding it made us entirely change our strategy. We decided to switch from importing goods to manufacturing in Latvia, and this choice allowed us to become technically the strongest and most successful players in the Latvian market. Today we’ve remained in the industry because we are able to manufacture and monitor all the processes from the beginning till the end and take full responsibility for the quality we provide to our customers.
Has RIPO reached its goals?
No, definitely not. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Before the economic bubble exploded in 2008, we experienced time when everything happened almost without putting in any efforts, but the times changed. Only after taking the beating we realized we must have set much higher goals for ourselves, when we could, instead of just receiving and processing the orders, and being satisfied about the result. We’ve learned a lot from it and have set quite ambitious goals for the future. We want to become the market leaders in Latvia and maintain a strong and stable position locally, while expanding to global markets as well. Today it requires much more work than back then. We have set our bar high and are willing to put a lot of effort to achieve what we dream of - being customer’s first choice when it comes to choosing gates.
What is the secret of company’s success?
It wouldn’t be a secret anymore, if I’d share it all. Most definitely a big part of our success relies on the fact that we are able indicate all the issues (from manufacturing till gate installation at the end-customer’s location) and resolve them before any harm is done to the project. All the work needs to be done and, if something goes wrong, it requires an immediate action to ensure the necessary changes are applied to manufacturing and installation processes to prevent any slips from happening and to leave the customer satisfied with our services.
Maybe it’s all about the team?
Without any doubt, the team is behind all the projects and day-to-day operations. Together we discuss everything and work on improving our proficiency. We know that the real power is in strong teams, so we always stick together, don’t refuse help to our co-workers and constantly teach and support each other.
What makes RIPO stand out from its competitors?
We have a unique sales process and we always ensure our customers receive an outstanding quality services. If our competitors are mostly price-driven, our aim is to look for ways to provide good quality for an affordable price. Good price rarely goes hand in hand with a good quality, but we’re offering our customers the perfect balance - a quality service for an adequate price.
Which is your best-selling/customers’ favourite product?
At the moment, gates are the most popular among our clients. However, at the beginning, when the business was just kicking off, the roofing, our first product, was the top pick. It’s a product you can buy and sell further, but gates are always manufactured for individual needs and purposes. There are no two projects alike, as each time we need to come up with new solutions, integrate specific details in the project, etc., and this is what makes gate production interesting and exciting. Figuring out how to get the next gates to their new home and doing the installation is like a new adventure for our guys.
What are you most proud of?
It’s not typical for us to be proud of something. We’re just a great team working together to achieve our goals. But, if you’re asking whether I’m satisfied with what we’re doing here, the answer is yes. We’ve created production, installation and sales that bring results. RIPO has entered global market and is having a great success on the international level, and that’s an achievement that’s worth being proud of!
What are your predictions for the future of gate industry?
The gates have been a necessity and will remain a necessity. We can’t imagine our home without a proper garage or a workshop. The only questions are how will the technical solutions develop? There was a time when gates could only be open manually, using physical power. Now we can easily do it with a push of button on the remote. Meanwhile, the popularity of mobile technologies and machine learning is booming, and probably in the nearest future we won’t even need to do anything at all to open the gates - everything will happen without any human interaction.
How do you see the state of the company in 10 years’ time?
If we’ll keep working as good as now, I truly believe we’ll be among the most recognized brands in the industry in the European market.
Can you share any future plans for the company?
We want to achieve the state in which our clients can order gates without leaving home. Whether people are getting busier or lazier, they all want to be able to make a purchase while sitting in the sofa or being on the go, therefore we strive to develop an easy-to-order process for our customers to make our services even better.