Dani and Albert Fibla are brothers who decided to start a business seven years ago. Both had lost their jobs due to the crisis. Dani is a draughtsman, Albert a mechanic. At the time they were smokers and began to pay attention to vaping shops – which sell electronic cigarettes – as they were springing up everywhere. Dani became interested in the business and discovered that almost all of the products sold here came from Germany and Italy. There was no production in Catalonia.
In 24 hours, he set to work and began to apply for permits from the Catalan government. After a week we said to ourselves, “Let’s start making them.” And they did. The beginnings were in a small nine-metre-squared workshop in El Masnou. “If we made 10 pots a day we were happy,” they recall. Now, in their warehouse in Vilassar de Dalt, where they have 10 employees, they produce 10 pots per minute.
“Our team is made up of people who were also unemployed. Friends...family...acquaintances. We managed to establish a great working environment and everyone has responded when called upon in difficult times,” say the two brothers from Alella.
Just as the first crisis in the vaping sector had been overcome – about 80 companies like theirs closed in Spain – the coronavirus pandemic arrived. “In our company, we have machinery capable of packaging a product that there is suddenly a great demand for hydroalcohol,” explains Dani. So the machinery was put to a different use. “It was difficult at first because of the whole issue of prices, and the government even had to intervene,” they explain. But they have not stopped working a single day during the pandemic. In fact, they had to work overtime during lockdown in order to cover all the demand. “We started working for pharmacists, and we also made donations to hospitals,” says Albert.
What they thought would be a passing demand during the hardest months of the pandemic has now become commonplace. “When it all happened, we expected it to be a matter of weeks. Then suddenly we see a regular demand growing. Like when people used to buy cough syrup... Masks and hydroalcohol have become everyday products. We’re also very aware of the hardship all this has caused, and we hope demand will fall. We hope all this will improve and the volume of hydroalcohol that has been generated in the middle of the pandemic will not be there two years from now”, they point out.
These two young entrepreneurs are already thinking of other production lines in order to continue the expansion of their business: the next goal is a line of cosmetics.