The company was founded in 2003 by Marian Raus and Alexander Vugrek, and the start-up grew much faster than expected. Marlex now has 260 employees and is the clear market leader in Croatia, supplying windows and doors made of aluminium, PVC, and wood-alu or PVC-alu, with revenues of 18 million euros. In recent years, the company has invested over eight million euros and nearly doubled the number of employees.
There are many reasons for this fast-paced growth. Ilija Ponjavic, Executive Director at Marlex: “We‘ve experienced high growth, and not only in the Adriatic region, where a real construction boom is happening right now, with numerous hotels being built, which creates a correspondingly high demand for insulating glass. In the last three years, EU subsidies have become available for private homes: 40% of the costs for windows and doors are being subsidised, in some regions even up to 80%. People have started to look into thermal insulation on the Internet, and there they find us, too.” Another reason for this growth can be found in the uncompromising quality of the final products. Ponjavic: “We only work with the best. This means that products we offer to our customers as standard are referred to as ‘special’ by other companies. For example, the Energeto 4S window.” 4S stands for 4 seasons, which means pleasant temperatures year-round. According to Marlex, this solution's G value is 30% better than conventional glass in the summer. And the export market? Ponjavic: “Originally, we planned on having more export business, but the demand in Croatia is so high that we can’t export more than 35%.” When Marlex windows and doors leave Croatia, they are bound for Italy, France, Germany, Slovenia, and Austria.
The leap into industrial production
The year is 2006. Business has increased so much that glass suppliers can no longer keep up. Local IG manufacturers have reached their limits, and Marlex can no longer make deliveries, which causes a lot of headaches for the still rapidly growing windows and doors manufacturer near Varaždin. Because of this, the management at Marlex decided to produce their own insulating glass. They started to compare manufacturers and looked at many IG factories. “The factories with LiSEC systems always stood out: sophisticated, automated, everything from a single provider. Of course, being close to Austria helps the business, but the quality, reliability, and good reputation on the market were the factors that made the decision for us,” continues Ponjavic. As growth kept going strongly in the following years, another decision needed to be made. Ponjavic: “We decided to expand our production once again, in order to reach a capacity of 440 IG units per shift – and 70% of that are triple IG units. Plastic window production was state-of-the-art back then, and that set the benchmark for IG production: high quality, a high degree of automation, and a high output.” This is how Marlex successfully made the leap into industrial production. “With this last investment in new IG systems including spacer benders, our choice was easy: It was clear right from the start that we would be purchasing from LiSEC again,” explains Ponjavic.
It all adds up
The investment in a new IG line and a spacer bending station was worth it. Ponjavic: “On the one hand, we are now independent of third-party suppliers, and we have full control over quality and delivery deadlines. On the other hand, we were able to nearly double our output with just five additional employees, some of whom have experience in insulating glass production. And the best part: We can finely adjust the line and make full use of our potential; we’ve gotten very fast.” This is how Marlex made the leap that many other manufacturers never risk: Manufacturing insulating glass independently, investment in state-of-the-art machinery, and well-trained employees who can achieve high output with highly automated stations.
With Energeto series products from Aluplast, Marlex is redefining the standard. Their window is highly energy-efficient, since there are no thermal bridges in the frame and panel construction. Regarding thermal properties, the weakest point in the window is the steel bracing inside the classical window frame. Products from the Energeto series leave out this weakness completely, replacing the steel with rods of fibreglass. Not only does this increase energy efficiency, the window frame is also 2.5 times more stable and approx. 20 kg lighter than conventional frames. Taking the development a step further, Marlex adheres the IG units to the windows, requiring no steel either, which makes the windows even lighter.
According to Ponjavic, there are currently efforts in Croatia to legally regulate areas like thermal insulation, energy efficiency, etc. It will remain challenging to make people aware of the importance of good windows. One measure Marlex will take is to train their franchise partners intensively, and they will continue to expand their dealer network.
Marlex fact box:
Number of employees: 260
Revenue (2017): 18 million euros
Export rate: circa 35%
Four proprietary showrooms, 35 showrooms operated by franchise partners (also in France, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia)