The pandemic has put society, the economy and business to the test. Many entrepreneurs are still struggling to maintain business continuity, liquidity and jobs. The priority today is the safety and health of workers – not only physical, but also those related to the sense of stability of employment, the resilience of the employer to shocks, the efficient management of the team in the crisis and, finally, the provision of specific support for workers and their families.
The Coronavirus pandemic represents a huge challenge for the European and global economy. The EU and national institutions are implementing further tools to protect not only sectors that are critical to individual markets, but the entire economic ecosystem: assets, technologies and infrastructure and, above all, jobs and workers.
Economic protectionism has intensified in European countries. National governments have launched support mechanisms for local businesses. There are also voices in Poland calling for economic patriotism. Politicians and experts are arguing that local patriotism can be an antidote to the current and post-pandemic problems of the Polish economy. Many entrepreneurs implement purchasing policies based on national goods and services in their companies. We are also seeing an increasing number of campaigns encouraging Polish consumers to reach for local products and use the services of national companies.
What is economic patriotism?
How can we distinguish economic patriotism from chauvinism and exaggerated protectionism? Apator started campaign #PolskieMójWybór [#PolishMyChoice] – encouraging the discussion on business solidarity and conscious consumer choices.
Economic patriotism can be understood as co-responsibility for the Polish economy, which translates into specific purchase and business decisions. At the business level, it means solidarity among entrepreneurs through the purchase of products or services offered by local entities, as well as the development of a local cooperation network. It means the selection of suppliers taking into account economic conditions such as taxes paid in Poland, investments in national infrastructure, job creation, support for Polish engineering solutions and local social environment.
Mirosław Klepacki, President of the Executive Board of Apator SA, explains: – We do not expect to close up in Poland only for domestic companies but we propose equal access to our market for foreign entities that decide to locate the production in Poland, to invest and develop project and R&D teams in Poland (or to outsource the production or design to Polish companies). Let us create healthy, equal competition conditions for all entities.
In a survey conducted by ICAN Research in August 2020, as many as 67% of Poles declared their economic patriotism. In the same survey, but in the group of managers, as many as 74% of respondents indicated price competitiveness of Polish products and 60% indicated their high quality.
Interestingly, more than half of the respondents admitted that during the pandemic they were even more willing to use Polish brands – precisely as a gesture of solidarity and willingness to support domestic producers. Therefore, the choice of Polish products is today motivated by emotional and economic factors, but also by the conviction of Poles that “Polish” does not differ from “foreign” products either in terms of quality, taste or health values.
It is worth stressing that issues of product safety (impact on our health) and environmental considerations are becoming increasingly important to modern consumers. Locally produced products, especially seasonal products, can win over those exported in terms of taste and health, and their transport and storage do not generate as much environmental damage as products imported from remote regions.
Patriotism in business
– Patriotism is business solidarity consisting of mutual support of national enterprises by selection of products offered by local entities and also development of local cooperation network – explains Mirosław Klepacki, President of the Executive Board of Apator SA. He is the head of the Apator Group that currently consists of 14 domestic and foreign companies with annual revenues of PLN 880 million and half of sales performed on foreign markets.
Apator provides the technically advanced metering solutions (electricity meters, gas meters, water meters and heat meters) and also systems supporting the management of distribution network of media. The Group employs about 2700 people but its impact is much bigger due to wide network of suppliers and partners. As much as 64% of the Group’s purchases of raw materials and services come from domestic companies.
Mirosław Klepacki tells us how much effort and work it cost the Polish company to have paved the export way and build the brand’s reputation on foreign markets.
– In the 1990s our expansion was directed only towards the East, because our products did not comply with German technical standards. However, with many years of work we managed to conquer more demanding markets. Many years ago we established Apator GmbH and drop by drop we wore away the stone until we reached the level of sales in Germany of about PLN 50 million. At present we have six foreign companies in the Group – he said in the interview for ICAN Management Review (No 4, 2020).
– Let us take example from our western neighbours – encourages President of Apator.
He gives the example of Germany that perfectly protects its manufacturers. When the power plants there announce the tender, they set the technical bar very high and they require prequalification that usually involves a visit of the manufacturing plant. In Polish business reality, there is no practice of verifying offers, Chinese companies are not audited and their purchasing chains, production processes or safety and working conditions are not checked. Polish companies of the State Treasury still choose their offers mainly on the basis of price, and this is where Asian companies, entering the market without economic contribution and capital invested in Poland and Europe, win.
Meanwhile, the choice of a proven, verified national, but also European supplier has many advantages for the contracting authority. Such companies like Apator provide technical consultancy, support of R&D team and efficient service. They guarantee the respect of works of employees and meeting of the highest environmental requirements.
– Strong Polish companies are important contribution to the national budget and local infrastructure, they train their staff, create jobs, develop Polish engineering solutions and support local communities. By selecting Polish suppliers we have a real impact on the state of the Polish economy. – concludes Mirosław Klepacki.
More about the campaign #PolskieMójWybór on social profiles of Apator Group on FB, LinkedIn and YT and on http://www.apator.com/pl/grupa-apator/polskiemojwybor.