Huge opportunities in a vast region18.10.2006 Industry and trade are picking up in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine. Buhler’s local organization in Moscow is growing in step with the country’s expanding economy. The Russian Federation and Ukraine have experienced a booming economy over the past years. Powerful dynamism and a sense of future promise have taken hold in both countries. Growth breeds prosperity, which in turn increases demand for industrially produced goods. A new community of entrepreneurs have put the rules of the market economy into practice and are investing in cutting-edge production facilities. Just the right setting for Buhler.
Long Buhler tradition
The beginnings of Buhler’s activities in Russia and Ukraine date back to the Czar era. Up to the end of the 19th century, 1800 flour milling roller mills from Uzwil had been installed in all parts of the immense empire – in places as distant as Siberia. After the October revolution in 1917, the business activities of Buhler abated in the vast new socialist country. Only in the seventies of the 20th century did Soviet government representatives reestablish contacts with Buhler. This resulted in over 80 facilities – primarily for the grain processing industry – to be sold and put into service.
Own office in Moscow
Since the collapse of the Soviet empire and the opening of the market, Buhler has been present with its own office in Moscow. The Buhler Moscow SAS (Sales and Services) organization is growing along with the market and currently employs a staff of 23. The Buhler office in Moscow is in charge of the markets in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus. This region extends across more than eleven time zones from the Baltic Sea to the coast of Japan. A total of over 200 million people populate the area covered by the SAS Buhler Moscow.
Since early 2005, Markus Vontobel has been in charge of the site. Vontobel has been with Buhler since 1978. In 1992, he was delegated to the China office in Beijing. From 2000 through 2005, he headed the Buhler branch offi ce in Hong Kong.
A market for all Buhler units
In Russia and Ukraine, another significant industry beside the traditional area of flour milling is pasta production. Last year alone, three pasta projects were implemented, and this year already two. Chocolate, too, has been a hit with the local population since the beginning of industrial chocolate production. Today, the Russian Federation is one of the major chocolate markets. Among others, loyal Buhler customers also include the well-known “Red October” chocolate factory in the center of Moscow.
The Grain Handling market (grain conveying systems) is going through a period of upheaval. Buhler supplied the last port terminals as far back as during the Soviet era. Now interest in investments in this field is increasing as a result of the growing wheat exports by Russia and Ukraine. Demand is also picking up for advanced animal feed production technology (see Diagram issue no. 143). The Buhler Sortex business unit (optical sorting systems) has intensified its advertising and articles in Russian trade journals. Successes are also emerging in this area, especially for the sorting of nuts and pine kernels.
Along with economic growth and demand for higher quality, other business fields have also become promising for Buhler in Russia and Ukraine. One example is the Brewing & Malting business unit, which has implemented various large-scale projects, or the Die Casting division, which has sold two production systems.
Buhler Moscow is excellently equipped
The Moscow office and the branch office in Irkutsk in Siberia are extensions for the Buhler Group. Their staff are competent contacts for Buhler customers. They are acquainted with the local needs, the markets, the cultures. The products are supplied out of Switzerland or, if the Rice and the Brewing & Malting business units are involved, out of Germany. Under the supervision of seasoned Buhler project managers, local installation crews normally carry out plant installation work. Customer service in the Chocolate and Pasta business units is ensured by engineers from Moscow office.
In order to further improve development of the growing market in Ukraine, Buhler will open its own office in Kiev in 2006. Markus Vontobel has set demanding goals for himself and for his team. “The Russian market demands fast responses, competent consulting, and the expansion of customer service.” The market potential is growing. With its local organization in Moscow, Buhler is excellently equipped to take on this challenge.
New office in Kiev
In terms of surface area, Ukraine is Europe’s second-largest country, with a population exceeding 50 million. Buhler has identified further possibilities for growth and will therefore open an office in the capital Kiev even this year. Ivan Nevmerzhytsky will head it. Nevmerzhytsky, age 32, joined Buhler Moscow in early 1998, first as an engineer for the Chocolate business unit. He has now been in charge of sales in Ukraine for a year. His advantage is that he is a native of the country who – in addition to Ukrainian – is also fluent in Russian and German. He wants to be closer to Buhler’s customers. Out of Moscow, that is not very easy. To date, his biggest success has been an Ukrainian large-scale project last year, which Nevmerzhytsky pulled in against powerful competition. “We responded fast and were able to quote a complete line from raw material reception through to the finished product loadout. For this purpose, we handled the laboratory developments together with the customer in Uzwil.”