The revolutionary Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to the classical wood, and the WPC profiles manufactured by BENCOMP have already proven their sustainability over time.
CAPITAL asked Mrs. Cristina Isabela Bene, the majority shareholder of the company, some questions regarding the development of the BENCOMP project wishing to find out more information about this success story and also about the WPC profiles – the composite wood – manufactured by the company.
First and foremost, we would kindly ask you to tell us when and how the „story” of BENCOMP began, the largest manufacturer of WPC profiles in South East Europe and the Balkans?
The BENCOMP plant started its activity from the desire of Bene Internațional SRL to completely close a final recycling flow by obtaining finished products in order to add value on several levels: environmental protection by recycling wood waste and HDPE plastic waste (ed. note – high density polyethylene) which thus no longer reach the landfill, environmental protection by reducing energy consumption – it is known that recycled production saves between 30 and 50% of energy consumption, which means that the CO2 emissions decrease, generating sustainable production over time. The final decision was made after more than 2 years of having analyzed the existing technologies and the raw materials/additives suppliers.
BENCOMP is the first producer of WPC (composite wood) profiles in Romania being part of a group of companies from Oradea with a tradition in recycling and recovering plastic, glass, electronic or packaging waste. We value the years of experience in the field of plastics processing of talented engineers and their enthusiasm, plus the skill of a motivated team, in continuous development in order to produce quality and competitive products both internally and externally.
Cristina Isabela Bene, majority shareholder of BENCOMP: „We aim to raise awareness on this revolutionary product, the composite wood”
Where is the WPC profile plant located?
In Buzău, 100 km away from Bucharest and 220 km from Constanţa. BENCOMP – which set out from the very beginning to become not only a domestic “player” but to become an international one, also targeting the export market – reintroduces in the economic flow the excess wood left over from the manufacture of furniture and recycled plastics, the final result being high quality products which it exports both to Europe and worldwide.
Today – after more than 9 years of manufacturing – the WPC profiles produced by BENCOMP (which can be used to make outdoor terraces, fences, building cladding, street furniture, etc.), have reached individual customers and legal entities not only in Romania, but also in Bulgaria, Belgium, Spain, England, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Qatar, Italy, France or the Republic of Moldova.
Why WPC, the composite wood? Can you tell us what its advantages are?
The Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) – is a hybrid material which combines the qualities of wood with the ease of processing plastic and manages to successfully replace natural wood without compromising on strength. Composed of wood fibers, that is waste generated from wood production processes, mixed with recycled plastics, WPC also proves to be revolutionary by being an environmentally friendly material, made of 100% renewable materials, sawdust and recycled plastic.
We aim to raise awareness of this revolutionary product – the composite wood – on the Romanian market and save the local forests by creating more resistant ecological products easier to maintain over time than classic wood.
Cristina Isabela Bene: „We offer the largest guarantee on the Romanian market”
What does an investment in WPC profiles produced by BENCOMP basically mean? What guarantee do you offer to buyers from Romania and other countries?
The investment in WPC profiles produced by Bencomp is a long-term one, which eliminates future efforts and maintenance costs, it is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative, while also offering the natural look of wood. We want more significant deliveries to the State-owned companies – we have not worked with the State companies in general so far – therefore we need to develop a strategy in this direction.
We are the manufacturer with the most developed product ranges: 11 different types of floor profiles, over 15 fence profiles – boards, traverses, columns, etc., 4 models of exterior cladding profiles (paneling) and over 20 models of accessories for mounting these profiles. We are constantly looking for the best suppliers of raw materials and additives on the European market to deliver the quality expected by our customers.
We want to become the most looked for and appreciated manufacturer of WPC profiles, not only in Romania, but also in Europe, by continuously increasing of production capacities in order to optimize costs.
We offer the best advice for choosing the right profile to our clients, depending on the type, purpose and size of their work, we also advise the client for own set up or we direct them to the Bencomp approved installers in order to make sure that the installation of the profiles is right (and does not jeopardize product durability and guarantee).
We also offer the longest guarantee on the Romanian market (5 years, compared to the mandatory 2-year legal guarantee for long-use products) and a lifespan of the profiles (correctly installed!) that can reach up to 25 years (average 15 years).
Let’s talk about prices as well. How is the BENCOMP offer positioned in the market and what are the defining elements for the services provided?
BENCOMP prices are above the prices of the products imported from China and below those imported from Western Europe. Regarding the defining elements, we are talking about a wide range of models and colors, pre- and after-market assistance, which is essential in the whole process but also this 5-year guarantee that BENCOMP offers to its customers.
There surely is fierce competition in the innovative field of WPC profiles. How are the „players” in the market, what do they offer their customers?
This competition runs on several segments. On floor profiles, for example, we are talking about internal manufacturers of WPC profiles – with an extremely limited range of models and quantity produced, but with prices below Bencomp prices. But the low quality of the products must be taken into account, and their guarantee is only 2 years, compared to 5 years at BENCOMP.
Then, there are the WPC profile importers. There is a limited range of profiles offered to customers, and their prices are well below the BENCOMP prices. On the other hand, the quality and durability are reduced, without specifying the guarantee, meaning that the 2-year legal guarantee is offered, but with no reference to what this guarantee covers. There are also manufacturers of wooden floor profiles on the market – the price is similar to that of WPC profiles, but the maintenance costs are high and the service life is short, usually the material rots after 3-5 years.
What information can you provide about other segments in this „competition”?
We can talk about the fence profile segment. There are manufacturers and importers of wooden fence slats on the market, with prices below the prices of BENCOMP profiles, but with significant maintenance costs (periodic painting and varnishing). The lifespan of wooden profiles is short. The materials rot quite quickly if they are not periodically painted and varnished.
Then there are the importers of WPC fence profiles – we are talking about cheap and questionable quality Chinese products – and the manufacturers and importers of metal fence slats. The prices offered are lower, but the look is lower than the WPC profiles. Their durability is low, due to the risk of rust and the periodic maintenance costs (priming, painting) that are not required for the WPC profiles produced by BENCOMP. They are resistant to mold, moisture, temperature differences, rust, insects, fungi and other wood pests. In addition, Bencomp WPC profiles can be washed with water jet (possibly under pressure) or with a chlorinated water solution.
There are also manufacturers and importers of CNC laser-processed sheet metal fence panels. The prices are similar, but their look is lower than the fences made of WPC profiles, even if the range of models that can be made is practically unlimited.
As far as for the manufacturers of wrought iron and/or welded mesh fence panels, the price of these panels is very close to the prices charged by BENCOMP. We have already concluded collaboration agreements with some of the manufacturers of such panels, so that the result is a fence that combines WPC Bencomp profiles and wrought iron, offering an elegant yet durable look.
Last but not least, there is the segment of exterior cladding profiles (exterior paneling). BENCOMP’s competitors are all manufacturers and importers of exterior wall coverings. Unfortunately, the exterior cladding of buildings is not popular in Romania, as it is in other countries, and I would mention Sweden, in this context, and other Scandinavian countries.
Cristina Isabela Bene, BENCOMP majority shareholder: ”Communication is essential”
How would you define the success of Bencomp WPC profiles? Is there any keyword?
Communication. It is essential. Only in this way can there be quantified the level of after-installation satisfaction, but there is also the possibility to monitor the behavior over time of the profiles produced by BENCOMP. On the other hand, there is constant emphasis on continuous communication with potential customers, just to find out their wishes and the possible issues that BENCOMP profiles need to solve. In a market where competition is becoming increasingly fierce, another fundamental criterion for development is the constant monitoring of direct and indirect competition in order to observe in advance any important changes in their pricing policy, product design, etc.
But this is not everything. BENCOMP is in constant contact with the manufacturers of technological equipment for the production of WPC profiles – especially with the manufacturers already integrated in this long-term collaboration – in order to keep updated on the latest global trends in the market of these profiles: new models, new applications, new technologies that enable the productivity increase and reduce electricity consumption. We are in a constant search for new sources of raw materials and additives to enable the rhythmic supply of the plant, given the constant increase of capacity (investments in new production lines), we constantly monitor the legislation directly related to this field of activity.
At the same time, we want to attract trained and qualified manpower but also to retain quality personnel.
What do BENCOMP customers want? Has a BENCOMP customer profile been drawn?
If we refer to legal entities, BENCOMP clients are construction companies/real estate developers, HORECA companies (hotels, bars, restaurants, pubs, etc.), architectural offices and architects, DIY chains/DIY stores, construction materials warehouses, online and offline resellers, but also assembly companies – for assembly and resale of profiles.
As for the individual clients, their average age is 35-40 years, with average and above average incomes. They want elegance, durability, but also a good price-quality ratio. They prefer to pay more and not to have problems, over time, with maintenance and upkeeping. At the same time, they want an elegant product, and the fact that they choose an ecological product – made of wood and plastic waste – permanently gives them a sense of fulfilling their responsibility towards the environment”.
Investing in WPC profiles produced by BENCOMP, a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative”
What products and services does BENCOMP offer to its customers?
BENCOMP produces WPC profiles for outdoor floors – terraces, pontoons, playgrounds, pedestrian alleys, swimming pools, terraces for restaurants, bars. The profiles can be used for residential use, for commercial use, for heavy traffic. We also produce/deliver mounting accessories: clamps, stainless steel screws, support rail and corners.
The WPC profiles for fences and fences/railings are solid profiles and cellular profiles, such as gutters, planks, slats, traverses (handrails), poles and mounting accessories: poles and collars for poles, metal supports for poles, connectors, clamps
Some of the WPC profiles for fences can also be used for making street furniture – trash cans, planters, etc. – or for making pergolas and pavilions. WPC profiles for paneling – exterior cladding are also produced.
What can you tell us about the capacity of the BENCOMP production plant at the end of 2021?
Over time, the production capacity of the BENCOMP plant has steadily increased and, since the 2015 season, the number of WPC profiles has reached over 40. Today we have in our portfolio a total of over 70 profiles and accessories.
Due to the quality of the ingredients used, but also to the production technology, high quality profiles can be made, perfectly similar to those produced in Western Europe.
Moreover, in addition to the usual types of profiles – for flooring, paneling, poles or fences – other profiles can be made on order, by extremely fast assimilation of the necessary molds, for quantities that allow reasonable amortization of these molds.
BENCOMP aimed from the very beginning to perform in this field and to become, step by step, the most looked for and appreciated manufacturer of WPC profiles, not only in Romania, but also in Europe, its production capacities being continuously developed in order to optimize costs. The investment in WPC profiles produced by BENCOMP is a long-term one, which eliminates future efforts and maintenance costs, being a sustainable and ecological alternative while also offering the natural look of wood, so sought after by consumers, says Cristina Isabela Bene, the majority shareholder of BENCOMP, the largest manufacturer of WPC profiles in Southeast Europe and the Balkans.