15 Million Square Kilometers - Wacker Chemie AG


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15 Million Square Kilometers

Ten paces is all that Maxim Safonov, sales manager in Siberian Novosibirsk, needs to get to work. He gets up from the breakfast table, parts from his wife and children, sits down at the table in the living room – and is already there. From his home office, he looks after “Asian” Russia, an area on the far side of the Urals that covers approximately 15 million square kilometers and spans three climate and seven time zones.

Maxim Safonov covers his 15,000 square-kilometer sales region from his home office. Many areas are sparsely populated.

5,000 kilometers quickly add up when he visits customers in the Far East. Thus Safonov spends a lot of time on the Trans-Siberian Railway and on planes, in order to raise WACKER’s profile in the largest country on Earth.

Since mid 2011 this includes the “WACKER one-man show” in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city. “Moscow is simply too far away for the people here,” explains Safonov, “and WACKER wanted to offer the customers in Russia’s huge hinterland better service. That's why I'm now the outpost of the Moscow office.” Three weeks of WACKER ACADEMY and logistics training in Germany familiarized the native of Novosibirsk and construction industry old-hand with WACKER.

In Continental Russia, Safonov is responsible for regions such as Yakutia (Sakha), where the temperature drops to minus 45 °C in January – mid-month! In the summer, the thermometer rises to 30 °C. “Such temperature ranges are pure stress for any building,” explains Safonov. “But this very stress is our business. Our admixtures make mortar and coatings more durable. The colder it is, the better for us.” And the winter in Novosibirsk is actually rather pleasant, he assures us. You only have to reckon with a mere minus 25 °C mid month. Everything’s relative.

Lake Baikal is one of Siberia's most popular destinations. Pictured here: Safonov and his son.

The “field office” has long since paid off, for Siberia’s economy is growing fast. The construction-materials industry, in particular, is seeing a lot of activity; in 2014 alone, four major players in the dry-mix mortar market are due to commission plants with an annual capacity of some 650,000 metric tons. This represents a doubling of existing capacity. “Competition will increase, of course,” expects Safonov, “but if you are going for quality, you can’t get past WACKER.”

For Safonov, quality is also a matter of using the products correctly, creating “clever” formulations, refining and optimizing. His customers learn how to do this in regular technical seminars that Safonov organizes even in the remotest corner of Russia together with his colleagues from the Moscow Technical Center and the WACKER ACADEMY. A nice side benefit of these seminars is that people spend several cozy evenings together. And what applies all over the world – that business is rooted in trust between the partners – is doubly true in Russia, where knowing your partner is a must.

Indeed, Safonov knows both his vast territory and his customers’ needs well. He is so successful that a further WACKER home office will be opened in 2014 in Rostov-on-Don, in the prospering Southern Federal District of Russia, 1,100 km away from Moscow. This will not alter much for Safonov; he will still be responsible for 15 million square kilometers and take ten paces to his office every day.