Driving Production Excellence and Leading by Example: Meet Georgi Balev

04. August 2023 | 7 min read

Heading Pipelife Bulgaria's PVC, PE, and fitting workshop departments, Georgi Balev is one of the people behind the consistently high quality of the company's many pipe products and systems. While currently leading a 40-people team, Georgi started his employment back in 2007 as a warehouse worker. In our interview, we talk about his inspiring career journey, balancing work responsibilities with private life, and what he enjoys at Pipelife.

Story about employee in Bulgaria | Pipelife

A Journey of Growth

When we meet Georgi at the production department in Botevgrad, things are in high gear. The production lines for sewage, water supply and stormwater systems run abuzz with client orders, and from time to time, a colleague approaches Georgi to seek his expertise or guidance. A manufacturing line for irrigation drip tape has been recently launched, and a new warehouse building is in the making, too.

In other words, production at Pipelife Bulgaria has changed a lot since Georgi joined Pipelife 16 years ago. In 2007, he started working at the company as a warehouse worker. Already then, the 19-year-old had made up his mind to pursue a career in the manufacturing industry.

"I have always been drawn to production because the work is not uniform; it's dynamic," Georgi says. "Every day, you learn something new. And, of course, with that comes a great responsibility. When I joined, we were a company with only a handful of employees. Now, we have more than 50 people working in manufacturing alone."

Story about employee in Bulgaria | Pipelife

The young colleague's dedication to his tasks, always positive demeanor and never-ending willingness to learn were soon recognized by his team. When the company moved from Plovdiv to open a production site in Botevgrad in 2010, Georgi was among the employees who decided to relocate as well.

Starting a new life in another region of the country was not an easy decision, but Georgi says he hasn't regretted his choice. Soon, he was promoted to the role of line supervisor and, afterward, offered a training opportunity at Pipelife's plant in Croatia.

"Everything new at the beginning seems scary because you don't know where you're going," he recalls. "We moved from a city that is about 4-5 times larger than Botevgrad, but I adapted quickly. I liked my job and was willing to follow it anywhere."

Story about employee in Bulgaria | Pipelife
Story about employee in Bulgaria | Pipelife

Building Success Together

For the past three years, Georgi has been in charge of PVC, PE and fitting workshop departments at Botevgrad. His responsibilities include planning schedules and shifts, monitoring the production processes and implementing improvements, as well as meeting the production targets and deadlines.

"I've spent half my life at Pipelife," he says jokingly and then continues. "I'm actually happy about it because I've been learning a lot professionally. I appreciate the trust that's been given to me so far, and I try to live up to it every single day."

As one of the country's leading suppliers of piping solutions, Pipelife Bulgaria must be able to handle a high number of customer orders efficiently, and Georgi is committed to continuous improvement of manufacturing processes at Botevgrad. Exciting developments lie ahead, including installing a rotational molding machine, new coiling equipment, and launching a production line for cable protection pipes.

However, it's not the production achievements he is most proud of but his team, which has quickly grown to 40 people.

"I start my day visiting every employee who is on their shift at that time," Georgi says. "We have a talk about how they are doing, about their tasks and the work that's coming up. I also always make sure to remind them of safety precautions as production work entails some risks, and work safety is our priority."

Story about employee in Bulgaria | Pipelife
Story about employee in Bulgaria | Pipelife

The Power of Trust and Respect

In his free time, Georgi is a devoted husband and father of two boys. The family spends much time outdoors, and Georgi admits that being in nature recharges his batteries. Strong interpersonal relationships mean a lot to him, whether it's his private life or work. He also cites the strong team spirit as one of the things he appreciates most at Pipelife.

"The environment here is tight-knit — it almost feels like we are a family. We all get along well and stand by each other. And absolutely everyone is given a chance to prove themselves. It has also helped me in my personal development because I've always had good examples here at the company."

In his current role as a team leader, Georgi believes that establishing mutual trust and respect is crucial. It comes as no surprise that his 40-people team holds him in high regard. His openness, willingness to listen and problem-solving skills are all appreciated. "Whenever we face any difficulties, we can just turn to him and tell what's wrong, and he will support us," shares one of the colleagues.

Georgi believes true leadership means treating each team member with respect and empathy. Recognizing that people in his team have distinct strengths and needs, he has built an environment where everyone feels valued, can thrive and succeed in their respective roles.

"I'm very proud of the collective I've been able to create here and of the atmosphere among all my colleagues. We all have each other's back and help out whenever needed. And maybe, that's the best thing I've accomplished in this company so far — as happy employees give their best." 

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