12 minute read 23 Jun 2021
Two alpinists high-fiving at the top of the mountain

Slovenian Winners of the EY Family Business Award of Excellence

By EY Slovenia

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

12 minute read 23 Jun 2021

Every year, EY awards family enterprises who can be held up as examples of good practice.


mong the family-owned enterprises following the best business practices, EY Slovenia selects one Slovenian company deserving of this award every year. 

EY follows the best family business practices and every year awards the prize to one Slovenian family business. Family businesses represent the majority of companies in Slovenia and represent the driving force of the economy. They are an important form of entrepreneurship that makes a significant contribution to the economy in Europe and around the world. EY is a leading global company in the field of family business consulting, and, thanks to almost a century of experience in providing support to the most enterprising and innovative companies in the world, EY understands the unique problems faced by family businesses. In Slovenia, the EY Award of Excellence has been awarded every year since 2016. All the winners have been selected by an independent expert commission consisting of prof. dr. Boštjan Antončič, Head of the Department of Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana, M.Sc. Edita Krajnović, director of Mediade, and chairman of the commission Matjaž Čadež, founder of Halcom and MBILLS, based on eight criteria of excellence:

1. that at least the second generation of the family is included in the family business;

2. that the family has majority ownership and that it influences the strategic orientations and the formation of the company's values;

3. that the family business owns at least 50% of the shares and voting rights through an individual or group of individuals belonging to the same family;

4. that the headquarters of the company is in Slovenia;

5. that the family business is successful and has a long-term strategy;

6. that the family business in innovative and has good and transparent leadership;

7. that the family business has a defined mission and maintains the family traditions, values ​​and the entrepreneurial spirit of several generations;

8. that it has exceptional leaders who strive to social responsibility and commitment to the local environment.

The EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2022  has gone to VARIS Lendava, a leading European specialists for development and manufacturing of prefabricated bathrooms.

You can read more about all winners in the chapters below.

Sobočan family
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Award of Excellence 2022

EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2022 goes to VARIS Lendava

The leading European specialists for development and manufacturing of prefabricated bathrooms convinced EY Slovenia with its vision, results and family culture.

VARIS Lendava is a family company that has become a leading European specialists for development and manufacturing of prefabricated bathrooms. Their vision, results and family culture convinced EY Slovenia to bestow upon them the EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2022. The company’s good practices have also been recognized by several awards, such as the 2016 innovation award for a unique, environmentally-friendly concrete. 

The company's Director, mag. Sabina Sobočan, commented: “The award we received comes with pride, purpose, and responsibility. We are proud to be recognized for our excellence and our purpose and responsibility it to remain this way. We feel responsible to ourselves, our family members and business partners, the local environment we operate in, but also to Slovenian and international economy and society as a whole. We are creating a better world for everyone and building a responsible future.”

Second generation of succes

Recently, the leadership of the company has been transferred to the second generation. It's current Director and co-owner mag. Sabina Sobočan is the daughter of the founder Štefan Sobočan who led VARIS util 2015. The company has been making prefabricated bathrooms since 1977 and has made more than  concrete, lightweight and combined 100.000 bathrooms, which have been istalled hotels, residential buildings, hospitals, student dormitories, jails, and other buildings, where functionality and durability are just as important as style. They are also a trusted partner for international hotel chains Sheraton, Motel One, Hampton by Hilton, Holiday Inn, and InterCity.

Their success is family-made; today, Štefan is involved in the strategic decisions of the company, Sabina leads the company as the Director, and her partner Marko Čuš is part of the company’s leadership team. “The basic unit of VARIS Lendava is the Sobočan family. The company is a sector leader in Europe and their comprehensive family approach is an example of good practice on a global scale. There are several reasons they deserve this award, among them their commitment to quality control on all levels of the company. They follow their approach that everything is possible and are building the future of the company with constant research investments. The next generations will receive a company in an excellent form,” points out Mojca Emeršič, head of family business at EY Slovenija.

Read the story of VARIS Lendava and the interview with Štefan and Sabina Sobočan.


Furlan family portrait
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Award of Excellence 2021

Intra lighting wins 2021 EY Family Business Award of Excellence

This year the award goes to internationally successful and sustainability-minded company from Šempeter.

EY Slovenia awarded the 2021 EY Family Business Award of Excellence to Intra lighting. After three decades of success – they produce 200.000 light fixtures annually and create more than EUR 30 million of turnover – the company is being passed onto the second generation of family, who continue to build the company's international reputation.

"It is a great honour to receive this award, especially since there are no silver and bronze medals in the game of entrepreneurship, there is only gold. Either you win the contract you invested in, or you don't. The award will definitely encourage and motivate us even further," commented Marino Furlan, founder and president of Intra lighting.

The company has a clearly defined purpose, which also gives them a competitive edge: "We do not design light fixtures, we design light." They are a successful manufacturer of architectural lighting fixtures, which are sold in 68 countries all across the world. The entire Intra lighting Group employs more than 380 people, 220 of which work for the mother company in Šempeter pri Gorici.

The company was founded around 30 years ago by Marino and Marjetka Furlan and now important roles within the company are being passed to the next generation. Their son Anej is Chief Development Officer and their daughter Nika managers marketing projects. Both also became co-owners of the company two years ago.

Bringing light to some of the largest multinational companies

This is how the independent EY Family Business Award of Excellence committee explained their choice: "Intra lighting’s innovative spirit is coded into the company's DNA and their search for improved lighting solutions is always focused on the clients' needs. They understand the latest trends and merge them with the highest standards of quality, resulting in increasing investments into cutting-edge lighting technologies, automatization and robotization. Their close collaboration with architects, lighting designers, engineers and interior designers all over the world has brough them several prestigious design awards. Their light fixtures are shining in the offices of some of the largest multinational companies, such as Adidas, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Volvo, and Rolex. Intra lighting combines its R&D potential with consideration for sustainability, which is summed up in their philosophy: ‘Light where it is needed, when it is needed and as much as is needed.’" The independent committee members were prof. dr. Boštjan Antončič, head of the entrepreneurship chair at the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business, mag. Edita Krajnović, director of the Mediade company, and it was presided by Matjaž Čadež, founder of Halcom and MBILLS companies.

After 30 years, family business companies remain the backbone of Slovenian economy

“Intra lighting, whose innovations are bringing light to their home office in Šempeter as well as to Google’s office in the USA, is celebrating three decades of success. It is no coincidence that the force behind this success is an entrepreneurial family in collaboration with an incredible team of people. This year especially, on the 30th anniversary of Slovenian independence, we should be very proud of such family businesses whose beginnings in many cases go back to the early years of Slovenia,” says Mojca Emeršič, leader of Family Business at EY Slovenia.

Read the entire Intra lighting story and the interview with the Furlan family after they received the award.


Lotrič Family
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Award of excellence 2020

Lotrič Metrology won the Award of Excellence for family businesses

This year the EY Family Business Award of Excellence for family businesses has gone to Lotrič Metrology.

Lotrič Metrology, a family enterprise from Selška dolina, has three decades of experience with testing and calibration as well as development and implementation of metrology products and solutions. The company is led by five members of the Lotrič family: Marko Lotrič is the owner and director of the company, his wife Mojca is the deputy director Mojca, their daughter Katja is the financial director, son Mitja is the director of the LOTRIČ Certificiranje subsidiary and daughter Maja is the director of the PSM merilni sistemi subsidiary. The company, or their second family as they call it, employs 150 experts in various fields of metrology.

A family company that became a metrology laboratory in less than three decades

When Marko Lotrič founded the company in 1991, the focus was on testing the measuring and laboratory equipment. The first professional service developed by their lab was preparation of scales and weights for certification purposes. At that time the metrology in Slovenia was completely regulated by the state, making it even harder to join the field. Gradually, however, the company became a part of the Slovenian metrology system. Their efforts encouraged some changes in the regulation of this field and contributed to the development of metrology in Slovenia. In 2002 Lotrič Metrology became the first privately owned company in Slovenia to be appointed by the Metrology Institute of the Republic of Slovenia to implement legal verification of measuring instruments. A year later they built a modern building with state-of-the-art labs and equipment in Selška dolina. Today the company is an important international player. Their certificates in 47 countries and a QNet network of international partners allowed them to spread across Central and Eastern Europe and further. More than 18.448 companies are listed on their list of references and the have registered 3 patents. The Lotrič Metrology group includes three Slovenian subsidiaries, Lotrič Certificiranje, Lotrič Iskra and PMS merilni sistemi, as well as subsidiaries in Austria, Germany, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia. The interior renovation of a new Metrology park in Železniki should be completed very soon.

Flexibility and resilience in face of the epidemics

During the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, the company has demonstrated several attributes that are traditionally strong in family enterprises, which allowed it to react quickly and prove its resilience. After the epidemic was declared in Slovenia, Lotrič Metrology established a test laboratory and certification authority to encourage production and self-supply of face masks in Slovenia and to offer the local manufacturers a quick and efficient way to confirm whether their masks meet the standards. They also started collaborating with Domel, EKWB, BPMC, Technology Park Ljubljana and Zavod 404 to develop a new medical ventilator DIHAM.

Selection criteria for the Slovenian award winner

The Slovenian winner of the Award of Excellence for family businesses has been selected by an independent committee according to eight criteria of excellence. The committee was presided by prof. dr. Boštjan Antončič, head of the entrepreneurship chair at the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business, mag. Edita Krajnović, director of the Mediade company and the committee president Matjaž Čadež, founder of Halcom and MBILLS companies: “The success of the company, their long-term strategy, innovative spirit and the excellence and transparence of their corporative and family management were the reasons the committee awarded LOTRIČ Metrology with the award of excellence.”

Read their entire story here

Vivapen - EY Award of excellence 2019
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EY Award of Excellence 2019

Slovenian Vivapen can compete with the best in the world

In 2019, the Slovenian winner was the Vivapen company from Celje.

At the World Entrepreneur of the Year (WEOY) event in Monaco, EY awarded the company Vivapen from Celje the Family Business Award of Excellence for the best family practices and family enterprises. The family enterprise that produces colourful pens is the leading manufacturer of ink pens, rollers and inks in Europe.

The CEO of Vivapen, Petra Melanšek, accompanied the award with the following words: “This award is another confirmation that we are doing something right for the last 52 years and that these endeavours are not being overlooked. Even as a craftsman, my father had a vision and always set high goals. But despite that, he kept his values and transferred them to the family and the staff. Of course, this success would not be possible without our excellent co-workers, and our long-time and trustworthy business partners.”

Recent breakthrough to a vast Chinese market

The company enterprise, which was established in the 1970s by Jože and Vanda Melanšek, and which has been led by their daughter Petra since 2007, produces colourful pens, such as fountain pens, rollers, ink erasers and fibre pens, ink feeding systems, inks, ink inserts, and school and stationery equipment. They are working with various top-notch pen producers, such as Faber Castell. Because of the projects which were developed in cooperation with them, Vivapen has managed to make the transition from producer of school pens to premium pens.

The company realises 99% of all income on foreign markets. They mostly export to Germany and other EU states, the USA, South America, Taiwan, etc. At the beginning of 2019, the company made a breakthrough to the massive market of China. The credit for this goes to Petra’s son Luka, who, in addition to her nephew Tomaž, is now the third generation of the Melanšek family to dedicate their lives to pens.

At Vivapen, they are committed to constant progress, which is reflected in constant improvements of existing products and technologies, and the implementation of new ones. Their list of awards and recognitions for innovation products is getting longer by the year. In their work, they combine expert knowledge even from physics, chemistry and engineering. The path to a higher added value, which is their goal, leads them also through automated and robotised production, with which they have been working intensively for the last two years.

Criteria for the selection of a representative from Slovenia

This year’s representative of Slovenia the company Vivapen has been selected by an independent jury, consisting of prof. dr. Boštjan Antončič, head of the Academic Unit for Entrepreneurship at the School of Economics and Business at the Ljubljana University, mag. Edita Krajnović, CEO of Mediade, and chairman of the committee Mr Matjaž Čadež, founder of the companies Halcom and MBILLS.

Vivapen has been chosen by the committee based on eight excellence criteria: “The company is distinguished by its internationality and entrepreneurship, the focus on a narrow market niche, the integration of the third generation into the company, the transfer to products with higher added value and the values that are the basis of their long-term success,” said the members of the committee in the grounds of the election.

Slovenes proud to be a match to international family businesses

The international company EY awarded the excellence awards to a Slovenian family enterprise for the now fourth year in a row. Last year, it was given to Lumar IG, and to KLS Ljubno and Roto before that.

“The traditional WEOY event inspires us every year, as it hosts successful entrepreneurs from the entire world. As part of the conferring of family enterprise awards to Slovenia for what is now the fourth time, we are getting to know that family enterprises around the world are innovative, responsible and sustainable. We are happy that Slovenian family enterprises are able to be as successful as any other national and international family enterprise, and we are proving every year that we are able to compete with them” says Mojca Emeršič, Head of family business services of EY Slovenia.

EY has been actively dealing with family enterprises by bringing good news stories and setting good examples of Slovenian family enterprises. In the autumn, we are planning to publish the sixth book “Family Business in Slovenia”, which will represent ten new and prosperous family enterprises.

Read their entire story here

Lumar - EY Award of excellence 2018
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EY Award of Excellence 2018

Lumar at the top od the world

Slovenian family-owned enterprise Lumar received the EY Award of Excellence in Monaco

At the WEOY event in Monako, Lumar – the leading Slovenian manufacturer of low-energy prefabricated buildings – was among the winners of the award of excellence for family enterprises. Director of Lumar Marko Lukić was honored that Lumar was recognized as a successful family-owned enterprise on a global scale:

»We are very honored to be put in the company of the best family businesses in the world. We take this as a recognition of our past work and a confirmation of our long-term decision to focus on sustainable housing. The award is also a confirmation of the importance and value of family businesses, which make up more that 80 % of all enterprises in Slovenia and employ 70 % of all working population. On the other hand, this award is also a great responsibility, as it demands that we continue with our good work, especially during our transition from a traditional, centrally managed family enterprise to a company with a complex structure. In the light of our quick growth, the most difficult challenge in the future will be to preserve the values and identity of our family company while we grow and develop.”

They believed in technologies others made fun of

The family-owned Lumar has 78 employees and 150 contractors – their contribution to the community they live in. Their low-energy prefabricated buildings have long outgrown the Slovenian borders and around 33 % of their sales now go to foreign markets. They do not focus on being the cheapest, as this would require cheaper material and contractors of poorer quality and quality is always Lumar’s priority.

Lumar was selected by an independent committee, whose members were prof. dr. Boštjan Antončič, head of the entrepreneurship chair at the Ljubljana School of Economics and co-author of the EY survey on family business in Slovenia, mag. Edita Krajnovič, director of the Mediade company, and Matjaž Čadež, founder of the Halcom d.d. and MBILLS d.o.o. companies. Matjaž Čadež, who also presided over the committee, explained their selection: “Entrepreneurship only started to develop in Slovenia around 20 years ago. This means there is very few companies where the next generation completely took over the management of the family company. Lumar is a good example here, as the new generations continue with sustainable development of the company, which will bring positive consequences to our entire society.” 

Read their entire story here

KSL Ljubno - EY Award of Excellence 2017
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EY Award of Excellence 2017

KLS Ljubno in the best company

Slovenian KSL Ljubno recevied the EY Award of Excellence in 2017.

At the EY Family Business Summit in Monaco on 7 June 2017, KLS Ljubno received EY's Family Business Award of Excellence. The prize is awarded by 25 countries worldwide and the winners are featured in the EY Family Business Yearbook 2017, a special publication featuring the best practices and family businesses in the world.

The award ceremony, which took place at the Monaco Yacht Club in Monte Carlo, was attended by the winners from all 25 countries. They enjoyed the evening events in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Bogomir Strašek, owner and CEO of KLS Ljubno, pointed out that they were honoured to be the recipient of the award which is a recognition of their hard work and achievements: "KLS Ljubno is characterized by constant progress. To a large degree, our family business is now in the hands of the second generation. With hard work and good results, we will continue to ensure progress and strengthen the characteristics of a family business. "

In two generations to the top of the automotive industry

KLS Ljubno is a global leader in the manufacturing of starter ring gears for the automotive industry with more than 40-year tradition. They control more than 60 percent of the European and 15 percent of the world's niche market. Their products are installed in engines of more than 30 largest automobile brands in the world.

KLS Ljubno is one of the top robotics companies in Slovenia and the wider region in terms of headcount. In 2016, 240 employees generated €42 million of revenue. 96 percent of all their products are exported, with China rapidly becoming their most important market.

The company is managed by Bogomir Strašek, the founder, majority shareholder and CEO, together with his two daughters Nataša Strašek, responsible for communication and sales, and Barbara Strašek Mirnik, executive director of the company. Also actively involved in the family business are Bogomir’s son-in-law’s, Franci Bevc, who is responsible for development and ring technology, and Samo Mirnik, executive director of production and informatics.

An independent committee selected this year's Slovenian representative KLS Ljubno based on various criteria of excellence

The select committee was composed of prof. dr. Boštjan Antončič, Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana and co-author of the EY research Family Business in Slovenia; Edita Krajnovič, Director of Mediade; and Matjaž Čadež, Founder of Halcom d.d. and MBILLS d.o.o., as the select committee Chairman.  "KLS Ljubno has a clear vision and is achieving remarkable results in its focused niche market. Following major investments in the production modernization and development, the company is now seeing a rapid increase in revenue and earnings, which are used for new investments, allowing it to gain advantage over its competitors on the global market, "explained the select committee's decision Matjaž Čadež.

Several lectures and discussions were held with famous people from the business world at the EY Family Business Summit. Among the speakers were also William P. Lauder (The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.), Jørgen M. Clausen (Danfoss) and Ofra Strauss (The Strauss Group), who addressed current topics, including how family businesses can best take advantage of their unique characteristics in a changing environment, management models and successful practices.

Read their entire story here

Roto - EY Award of Excellence 2016
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EY Award of Excellence 2016

Slovenian ROTO received the first EY Slovenian Award of Excellence

In 2016, the Slovenian ROTO joined the winners of the award for the best family enterprises from all over the world.

EY Family Business Award of Excellence is a global program recognizing the most successful companies. In 2016 a business from Slovenia was awarded for the first time.

The award was received by the company ROTO from Murska Sobota, led by the second and third generation of Pavlinjek family. The country winner was named by an independent jury consisting of Mr Matjaž Čadež from Halcom, Ms Edita Krajnović from Meidade and Dr. Boštjan Antončič from Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana.

ROTO’s beginnings date back to 1949, and today they are a company in a third generation – one of only a few in Slovenia who have already made it here. International expansion, consistent growth, innovation and commitment to family business values positioned them as the first Slovenian company to receive EY's Family Business Award of Excellence.

The story of ROTO was featured in the global publication EY Family Business Yearbook 2016. Together with 20 global family businesses, ROTO was featured alongside companies such as Wates Group, Tetra Laval Group, Sixt Group, Lunelli Group Italy and others.

The celebration took place in Monte Carlo in Monaco Yacht Club and was attended by all country winners. The friendly and relaxed evening certainly fulfilled everyone’s expectations.

In addition, we celebrated the award as part of the Slovenian Family Business Conference event in June 2016. EY Slovenia’s Country managing partner, Janez Uranič, congratulated once again the Pavlinjek Family.

Read their entire story here


Every year, EY Slovenia selects a winner deserving of the EY Family Business Award of Excellence.

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By EY Slovenia

Multidisciplinary professional services organization