Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lovely Porec, Croatia and the Valamar Group

Our first view of the marina.  Kathy says "This is my happy place!"

Our big bus was too big for the streets surrounding our hotel.  Even regular cars need a permit.  So folks from the hotel kindly loaded our big luggage into a hotel van, and we enjoyed a short walk through a boardwalk-ish area to our hotel.  

The front entrance of the Valamar Riviera, facing the Adriatic Sea.

The view from the front entrance.  Very few cars, pedestrian friendly.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner, wine and traditional music arranged by Prof Yasha and his local colleagues, including his son, Marco!

Prof Yasha and his son!

The next morning we had a presentation from the Valamar Group. Learning a bit about their IT structure was interesting.  I don't travel very often (unfortunately!) so Kozeta had to show me how to use our smart room key to make the room "live".  This is a definite cost savings for the hotel group, since you need to key into the room to run the air conditioning, something that surprised those of us used to refrigerated hotel rooms in the US! 

I personally enjoyed hearing from Ivana Budin Arhanic, VP of Business Development and Corporate Affairs.  In all of our site visits, she is the only high level female executive we met.  Her explanation of Valamar's corporate strategy helped us understand why the group owns several different types of resort, and how they bring a newly acquired property up to their standards before branding it as a part of the Valamar family.  

In all, we enjoyed our time on the coast.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Masks In Venice

This was another fun and interesting visit, but I should state my bias: this was my team's site!  JC, Fred and I were interested to read about Carnevale di Venezia. and to share what we learned with the class.  Our contact, Nancy, did a great job sharing the history and demonstrating the traditional methods still used in the shop.  She was not able to answer our more complicated questions about business strategy or management, but we had a great time at Ca Macana.  It would be pretty fun to go back for Carnevale, but it looks pretty expensive!

No Photos, Please...

Akrapovic understands the role of proprietary information, intellectual property and how important it is to manage the message surrounding rollout of a new brand.  As a result, we were not able to take photos during the facility tour.  

That's too bad, because I would love to show the folks at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity developing our Rapid Prototyping Center!  The facility is appealing.  It's obvious real work gets done, but it's very clean.  They have a Stratasys 3D Printer.  I was pretty excited to see it running, even if I couldn't tell what was printing.  Their ceramic process is interesting.

I was surprised and impressed to learn that Akrapovic has branched out into medical titanium prototyping. It's pretty cool to think that maybe my mom's new "bionic knee" was once a design in their facility!

Akrapovic presents a unified brand identity, despite aspirations into many more different production fields.  Everything, from the conference room, to the logo'd (but still cool) clothing employees wore, to the Lifestyle Magazine demonstrates a lot of thought and effort.

And wasn't it cool to hear a demo of the sound tuning on Mr. Akrapovic's car?

A fantastic visit!

Big Ships in Pula

Big ships are made of big pieces.

Hard hats on, watching the electromagnetic crane and the really big plasma cutter.

We were allowed to bend some safety rules and came into the walkway between manufacturing areas with just hard hats. 

Ying and Kristopher are talking about manufacturing.

Look at those cables!

This crane is HUGE.

Our cohort had a fantastic visit to Uljanik during our day trip to Pula, Croatia.  Our host tried hard to answer our questions, but she is relatively new and not used to giving tours to business students!  She did an admirable job and we are grateful she was able to show us around, instead of canceling this site visit. From a manufacturing perspective, I was interested to see the VERY LARGE plasma cutter.  When we asked about supply chain and how costs of raw materials impact the business, our host told us that because each ship is built to different specifications, the companies ordering the ships provide their own steel that meets their own requirements for strength, etc. I thought that was pretty interesting and is a way for Uljanik to shield their business from fluctuations in the steel industry.  However, I guess a big spike would mean customers delay ordering.  Is this model sustainable?  I would have loved to ask more questions.