Samsung Electronics Hungary, which is celebrating 30 years in the country this year, makes the technology usually associated with the Samsung brand: smart phones, smart televisions, refrigerators and washing machines. The Budapest Business Journal spoke to Keunha Hwang, the president of Samsung Electronics Hungary, and head of its production plant in the city of Jászfényszaru (73 km east of Budapest).
BBJ: Why did you choose Hungary?
Keunha Hwang: Samsung Electronics was one of the first companies with mixed ownership to break through the Iron Curtain and it happened right here in Hungary. We are proud to be a pioneering company in technology and in Hungarian business history, too. After an initial investment of more than USD 3 million, production started 30 years ago, in 1990. Ever-growing and with a commitment to the country and the people, the factory completed its 100 millionth TV last November. The plant is focused on televisions and we are proud to be sole producers of unique Lifestyle devices like Serif, Frame and Terrace.
Hungary has proved to be a great choice as we could expand gradually, and after our 10 millionth television in 2003, we built a second and in 2014 a third assembly hall, so production is now present on more than 81,000 sqm. Last year, our total revenue was more than EUR 2 billion, and on September 24, 2020 we reached a record in export delivery with 164 truckloads of products leaving the premises in a single day.
BBJ: How much have you invested in Hungary?
KH: Being present in Hungary for 30 years gives us a deep understanding of the particularities and demands of the Central and Eastern European electronics market, which we wish to put to the benefit of our customers. In the last three decades, we have proudly invested more than HUF 150 bln and together with our partners contributed to a culture of innovation in the country.
Samsung Electronics has put considerable assets into R&D in order to deliver meaningful innovations to customers. Our goals to advance technology is not limited to our products; we are also committed to enhancing our product lines and the work environment of our employees. We are aiming to maximize effectiveness and maintain the high quality of our products in our factory in Jászfényszaru.
BBJ: How many jobs you created, what are your plans in Hungary?
KH: Ever since the first television was assembled in Hungary, we wanted to achieve more, and the plant was expanded accordingly. The number of employees at Jászfényszaru has also increased over the years and has reached around 2,300; that has been stable in the last couple of years. Most of our workers are local to the Jászság area. With our modern and innovative production processes, we contribute to local and domestic economic growth as well. Considering our extensive supplier network, the factory indirectly provides a living for another 4,500 people.
We are proud to produce top of the line products for Samsung Electronics. We are faced with challenges in production constantly, for example, this year we had to adjust to screen sizes growing by 20% compared to last year.
BBJ: Are you happy with the workforce?
KH: We are honored to provide a livelihood to more than 6,800 people in this country, including our suppliers. Following our long-term organizational goals, we are emphasizing the training and progression of our colleagues and employees. We are providing opportunities for them to learn and advance their careers so they can continue to grow in their professional life. In 2019, among all Samsung Electronics production plants, our subsidiary had the highest scores on our global internal employee satisfaction survey. Moreover, on Randstad Employer Brand Research 2020, our factory was the second most attractive company in Hungary.
BBJ: Are you happy with government support?
KH: We have been developing and enhancing our relationship with the Hungarian government and local authorities in Jászfényszaru and Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County as well. We entered into a strategic partnership with Hungary in 2013 as we were expanding with our third building at the facility. The factory can say “Thank you!” to the city of Jászfényszaru, as they have supported us since the beginning.
We are trying to give back to this community and support local activities and festivities and we have projects to make this city safer and a better place to live. As a company vested in technology, education is really important to us and we are aiming to help the local youth. In cooperation with Liska József Catholic High School, we plan to open a Samsung workshop to help professional education locally.
BBJ: What are you unhappy about?
KH: Unfortunately, we had to face more challenges this year than expected due to the pandemic that still has a serious effect on the global economy. In addition to its financial implications, the situation brought about a series of changes in the factory’s safety rules and it has had unexpected effects on most of our workflows. As the factory celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, we wanted to celebrate it more widely, but the global situation did not let us do so. The health of our colleagues and their families is our top priority, so we try to do our best to keep them safe in the current situation.
BBJ: Is there anything you would change?
KH: We hope that we can switch back to our normal working method soon with fewer safety measures, but until that we are continuously working on solutions that make users’ life easier. Samsung is a company of the future; therefore, we are not just adjusting to the new normal but we provide innovative products and services that help users to adapt, find new possibilities and be more effective in a new lifestyle and routine.