“The Romanian market for equipment needed in the utilities industry has reached a welcome maturity, proven by the growing demand for quality products with an increasing emphasis on safety and efficiency,” says Bogdan Panainte, CEO and co-founder of Homplex, a Romanian manufacturer known especially for its modern and innovative solutions for smart thermostats, methane gas detectors and gas meter boxes. In 2022, Homplex recorded revenues of around 32.6 million lei, and for this year the entrepreneur expects a 25% increase in turnover.
Homplex CEO analyses the market evolution from a quantitative, value and qualitative perspective, sustainability, and alignment with international trends. “The business of equipment for utility infrastructure has evolved a lot in Romania, and the data shows that users and developers in the private and public sectors have understood how important it is to use equipment of constant value throughout the entire technological chain in a project, without compromising on quality. Obviously, the trend is reflected in sales and is a factor in the growth of the business, in the evolution of the company in recent years,” says Bogdan Panainte.
Homplex has been active in Romania since 2013, when it imported and distributed installation materials. Today, in addition to imports, the company designs and produces innovative equipment for comfort, safety and energy efficiency. The development of the production segment came as a natural response to customer needs that transformed into direct requests and then into solutions offered by the Romanian company. “Customer needs have become business opportunities that the company has been able to capitalize on. Large companies are looking for solutions, technical support and predictability from partners,” explains the entrepreneur.
“We have started manufacturing equipment such as methane gas detectors, radio methane gas detection solutions, composite gas meter boxes, smart thermostats. As we identified customer needs, we came up with solutions that were appreciated and through which we demonstrated that we are serious partners. We work with the big DIY networks and are expanding our relationship with them, but we also have strong partnerships with energy operators and large installation companies that are carrying out both private and large public projects across Romania,” says Bogdan Panainte.
High quality starts to matter more than price
The contractor has seen a dramatic increase in the number of utility infrastructure projects carried out with public money in recent years. What particularly caught his attention was that in projects where he became a supplier of gas or water supply equipment, demand for quality products increased. In the Homplex portfolio, gas detectors stand out as the category with the highest share, protecting and guaranteeing the safety of over 450,000 Romanians. Gas meter boxes and thermostats also occupy an important place in sales. In addition to these, Homplex prides itself on its role as a quality supplier of AGRU polyethylene fittings, with an extensive range of products and accessories dedicated to utility installations and infrastructure extensions.
Poor quality equipment poses significant risks to the end user
According to the contractor, while in large projects quality is becoming increasingly important in the overall project equation, the situation is slightly different in the household consumer segment where the price criterion is the most important. End consumers often purchase equipment only to fulfil a legal obligation and not so much to protect life and health. A relevant example is the recent explosion in the Berceni district of Bucharest, most probably caused by the improper use of gas detectors. “Such problems occur in a situation where poor quality equipment is used. The household customer becomes the captive of the recommendations given by the local plumber, who chooses to supply a poor quality product in order to maximise profits. The customer accepts the recommendation both on price and on the authority of the professional. Unfortunately, the professional does not explain the price differences to the customer. Gas detectors differ from each other in terms of quality and therefore the safety offered by the number of false alarms, with an annoying warning sound, and which often result in the gas being turned off in the whole block. Because of these errors, the user often decides to unplug the gas detector, which increase the risk of an accident. However, if the detector is of good quality and fitted correctly, the risks disappear. The accident in Berceni should make us stop thinking that we should buy cheap tools just because we have to comply and not because it will help us”, says Bogdan Panainte. Homplex is among the suppliers of the most efficient methane gas detectors, and its ten-year relationship with approved gas suppliers and distributors is the best proof of the quality of its products.
Composite gas meters boxes enable remote monitoring of consumption
“Especially for gas operators, the composite gas meter boxes not only have a modern look with a much more aesthetically pleasing design, similar to the gas detector. These boxes are lighter, flame retardant, last longer, do not rust, do not need to be painted, are easy to clean, have no risk of injury, pollute much less and are easier to transport. Homplex gas meter boxes allow better optimisation of maintenance costs and are also ready for the smart metering area; because they do not impede radio waves, these boxes enable remote monitoring of natural gas use,” says Bogdan Panainte.
As the market matures, Homplex expands its offer and strengthens sustainable partnerships with major players involved in the gas or water supply industry. “By partnering with the Austrian company AGRU, we have become the representative of one of the leading global manufacturers of polyethylene pipe fitting systems and offer the Romanian market the option of equipment of the highest quality standards. We are a company that has the ability to offer the most comprehensive solutions with integrated equipment for suppliers. The AGRULINE fittings, which we distribute, offer developers, the network and therefore the end customer an essential advantage for a long-term investment: high resistance to slow crack growth, which means lower costs during installation, greater safety and up to 50 years of extended life for the entire pipe system. These are essential safety features for a large and long-term investment. It ensures the long-term smooth operation of the equipment, reduced losses, lower maintenance costs, efficiency and savings for all involved in the project,” says Bogdan Panainte.