The main reason the Korean company Samsung SDI chose Hungary as a base in Europe ten years ago was that Hungary has the advantage of competitiveness in its infrastructure (manpower, local material suppliers).
The management of the mother company in Korea considered that this strategy would secure a manufacturing site in Europe as SDI Germany lost its manufacturing competitiveness. Under the circumstances, Hungary was chosen – after careful examination – ahead of three other Eastern Central European countries, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. Moreover, the sister company Samsung Electronics’ manufacturing entity had already been located in this country.The town of Göd particularly, was selected for its proximity to Budapest.
As the recently appointed President of the Hungarian subsidiary, Chang Sun Dong explained to Diplomacy and Trade magazine on location that Samsung SDI Hungary currently produces PDP (plasma display panel) modules from panels supplied by its parent company in Korea.
As of 2009, the television assembly line from Samsung Electronics Slovakia was moved to Göd. Currently, 80% of the modules produced here are built into finished goods on site while the remaining 20% is exported to Samsung Electronics Russia. Most of the finished products are sold in the countries of the European Union.
Showing the commitment of the company to ‘green’ technologies, Samsung SDI is one of the leading companies in Korea to publish a sustainability report and environment is one of the key management priorities. Measures have been taken in the reduction of hazardous substances (known as ROHAS) and REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) and Samsung SDI Hungary meets all the pertinent requirements, the President adds.
The company employs around 900 people in Hungary, almost doubling the number compared to three years ago. For a time after the Hungarian subsidiary was formed, there were lots of difficulties derived from the cultural differences between Hungarian employees and the Korean management, even though there was an educational program to minimize the barriers.
However, as Chang Sun Dong pointed out, “in order to overcome the differences, Samsung SDI management changed its management policy to provide opportunities for Hungarian managers to run operations and to better understand Hungarian culture rather than having Hungarians understand Korean culture and Samsung working style.”
The President of Samsung SDI Hungary himself makes efforts to get to understand Hungary better. Chang Sun Dong arrived to his post in December 2010. When he learned about his new position, he immediately started to study Hungary, its culture and people.
He feels it is a pity he has had only a short time for that but he says he will try to explore the country whenever he has the opportunity in the coming years. Still, he already feels some familiarities between Hungarians and Koreans. There was a chance for him to taste Hungarian food and found that Goulash was actually very much similar to the spicy Korean soup "YukGaeJang".
The plant also strives to maintain close relations with the local community. It has been providing continuous help to the disabled care center and the blind care center, and has been running a festival called "Get together Festival" as a community event for nearby inhabitants once a year. In 2006, a Korean folk art troupe was invited by Samsung SDI Hungary and it became a good example to introduce Korean culture to the local community.
Göd, with its 15,000 inhabitants, is located 30 kms north of Budapest. Due to the recent economic crisis, two big companies retreated from the town. Meanwhile, Samsung SDI Hungary started the TV assembly business here from 2009, generating increased employment and local business tax (approx. EUR one million per year).
For its part, the Göd municipality constructed a bike lane from that tax revenue. The mayor of Göd has said that Samsung SDI Hungary is an important part of Göd.