Coffee, Russian-Style - Wacker Chemie AG


Coffee, Russian-Style

When Dr. Alexander Serov arrives at the office every morning, his patience has already be tested: by yet another traffic jam. He loses nearly three-quarters of an hour every day due to congestion on Moscow’s roads. And that’s not even long compared to the time some other colleagues waste stuck in tailbacks. This is all part and parcel of life in the megacity with its twelve million inhabitants, and for Serov the gridlock isn't even worth talking about. Instead, he prefers to talk coffee…

Dr. Alexander Serov (2nd from left) and his colleagues in Moscow congregate at the coffee machine a couple of times a day, and then the best ideas emerge, quite by chance.

Not that Russia is known for its coffee; traditionally Russians drink a lot of black tea. He is referring to the coffee machine in the office kitchen. It's practically the engine of WACKER Russia and is where everyone congregates a couple of times a day. “Coffee catalyzes the best business ideas here, if you want to put it in chemical terms,” jokes Serov.

His 25-strong team is responsible for a vast market consisting of Russia plus the Commonwealth of Independent States – a territory of over 21 million square meters covering 12 time zones. Three colleagues sit in Kiev, one sales manager looks after Siberia from Novosibirsk, and from summer 2014, WACKER will have an additional base in the south of Russia. “Although in Russia everyone speaks Russian, that is where the similarities end,” says Serov, explaining the increasing regionalization. “The cultural differences between the individual regions are greater than between Germany and Italy.”

WACKER began, quite classically, in Moscow, 20 years ago, when it opened a sales office in the south of the city in 1994, only two years after the Soviet Union was dissolved. Since then, WACKER has made it to Red Square: the colorful little onion-domed towers of Saint Basil's Cathedral, emblematic of Russia, were restored using paints based on WACKER silicone resins. “Of course that's a wonderful thing,” comments Serov, “but quite different things matter on the market, like our Technical Center, for example, with its super-frost climatic chamber.”

Sergey Bezruchko, sales director of Construction Polymers CIS, adds: “Our customers greatly value the fact that we can simulate how our polymers and construction-material additives behave at -40 °C. This means we can work together with the customer to develop the ideal formulation. Not everyone can do that.” The team has been advising customers from Almaty to Vladivostok in technical matters since 2003. The colleagues also investigate, for instance, how it is possible to cope with the extreme climate using longlasting, frost-resistant building materials, “since winter’s always a certainty in Russia,” grins the WACKER employee, now in his mid-fifties.

Moscow has also boasted a WACKER ACADEMY since 2008. The trainers work closely together with the Technical Center and the Sales team to offer customers a one-stop service. Only when it comes to the team volleyball tournament in the summer is friendship between the teams suspended – then it’s all-or-nothing. But at the latest, the next day at the coffee machine, everyone’s talking the same language again: would you like another cup of coffee?