As a guest, what should you bring to a dinner party? Paata Tchumburidze has a very original suggestion: a bottle of quality Georgian wine and a fire extinguisher, manufactured in Georgia. His rationale is clear once you learn he runs a company importing and now producing fire safety products, supported by the EBRD and the European Union.
Paata founded EL+ back in 2005 and started importing fire safety apparatus, including sprinklers, hydrants and fire alarms, from around the world.
With two shops in the capital Tbilisi and the seaside city of Batumi, the company serves both public institutions and private companies, including Georgia’s Parliament, hotels, malls and residential complexes.
The business was doing well but, as the famous saying goes, “Magic happens when you step out of your comfort zone.” EL+ management decided to give producing fire extinguishers in Georgia a try themselves – not an easy task but not an impossible one, once you have the right friends and partners by your side.
Partnership for growth
It all started with the introduction of a quality management system after the EBRD matched the company with a local consultant to improve HR and financial management, with support from the EU.
At the same time, the company set into motion its long-term dream of manufacturing fire extinguishers ‘Made in Georgia’. With a loan from the EBRD under the EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line, EL+ was able to purchase the necessary machinery to kick off production. All equipment follows European standards thus making this investment eligible for a 15 per cent cash back incentive, provided by the EU.
The art of production
Making fire extinguishers is no easy task, as the EL+ team explains. It must follow rigorous procedures from cutting steel into perfectly equal-sized tubes to welding, and from checking cylinders to testing the products under air pressure. The process is lengthy and very demanding, but one can sense that every single EL+ employee loves his or her job and feels great responsibility. The company can now also produce fire-resistant doors, fire extinguisher boxes and other related accessories for homes and offices.
“In the history of independent Georgia, we are the first company to produce fire extinguishers that are ‘Made in Georgia’ and other apparatus needed in case of fire. It is hard not to feel proud, and our production is very timely in light of our government’s firm grip on upholding strict fire safety regulations,” says Paata.
From Georgia to Europe – fire extinguishers for everyone!
Paata firmly believes in the importance of spreading knowledge about fire management:
‘’Fire safety rules should be taught at our schools. We try to contribute whenever we can, for instance through training sessions for interested parties where we teach how to handle a fire extinguisher. It is quite easy to hold, open and use it, and that’s why we think a fire extinguisher makes a very nice present for everyone.”
In spite of global pandemic, the company has already started production in full swing. And their plans are grand.
“From the outset, our focus was on European quality. All specifications and standards are of the highest grade. After establishing our share of the local market, we aim to expand to the European one,” concludes Paata.