Some say that Russia appears so big only because of the way it’s distorted on world maps. Optical illusion or not, the former Tsarist empire sets benchmarks in many respects. Its landmass is as big as the European and Australian continents put together. At 9,200 kilometers, the Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest rail line in the world and, at 1,642 meters, Lake Baikal is the deepest freshwater lake. Not to forget the economic potential: Russia is certainly one of the most promising markets nowadays – if you know how to cope with the unexpected. And, of course, if you meet customer needs.
This was an underlying reason why Endress+Hauser opened a sales center in Moscow in 2003. “First serve, then earn,” was one of the creeds of company founder Dr Georg H Endress. This spirit can still be felt today at Endress+Hauser Russia.
With 170 employees, the Russian sales center is one of the Group’s 10 largest revenue generators. Russia is one of the most exciting markets with a demand for measurement technology that’s as vast as the country’s reserves of raw materials. No country in the world produces more steel, aluminum, oil and gas. Every day, plants are modernized and new ones built. Despite geopolitical and economic resistance from around the world, Russia’s 144 million people need to be supplied.
“It´s not the strongest species that survives. It´s the one that does the best job of adapting to the environment. That also applies to the business world.”Anatoly Lapitsky, Managing Director Endress+Hauser Russia
Dynamics and vastness These dynamics are evident in Moscow, the hub of the Russian economy. In the southern districts, high-rise buildings are springing up like mushrooms, to keep pace with the city’s average population growth of 100,000 per year. Directly across from this new development on the opposite bank of the Moskva River, a former textile factory has become a trendy creative zone for architects, software developers and designers. A couple of blocks away is the headquarters of Endress+Hauser Russia.
“International companies often operate out of a central location in Russia,” says Managing Director Anatoly Lapitsky. “With our network, we cover nearly all regions across 11 time zones. We’re optimally aligned with the size of the country, which allows us to satisfy the needs of our customers in the best way possible!” The company has experienced a rapid ascent, with the team growing three-fold over the past 10 years.
Time and money Apart from the extensive red tape that can make it difficult to do business in Russia, western sanctions have cut the country off from the international financial markets. In return, domestic companies were encouraged to prefer Russian products.
Global players in the food & beverage industry are the ones currently modernizing their measurement and automation technologies. When it comes to process optimization, ‘Made in Switzerland’ is a strong argument in Russia as well. While the extreme environmental conditions call for robust measurement instruments, the Russian mindset demands lots of patience. One resource in ample supply in Russia is time. For good reason, the Russian soul is purported to have a propensity toward fatalism. After all, the art of valiant suffering runs through the national literature, from Tolstoy to Dostoevsky.
For Anatoly Lapitsky, however, another work of literature has more importance: Charles Darwin’s On the Origin Of Species. “It’s the best marketing book I ever read,” he says. “It’s not the strongest species that survives. It’s the one that does the best job of adapting to the environment. That also applies to the business world and it’s precisely the creed we live by.”
Aims and abilities Speaking of which, the Endress+Hauser portfolio is adapted to the needs of the Russian customers. “Our customers place a lot of value on robust and reliable instruments that are cost-effective and easy to operate,” explains Director of Marketing Maxim Salnikov. Products must comply with local standards and technical documentation has to be translated.
“Attentive customer management is a prerequisite for being able to convey the added-value of our products to the customer.” Especially with demanding measurement applications and issues such as calibration traceability, explosion protection or instrument self-diagnostics, Endress+Hauser’s extensive expertise and experience can tip the scales.
The majority of the blue-branded sensors are installed in standard applications, however – and from the customer’s point of view, they should not cause any problems. “Maintaining close ties to our customers allows us to continuously improve our offering and provide targeted training to our sales staff,” adds Maxim Salnikov, who is convinced that “It’s people who make the difference, even in the digital age.”
Google and Yandex Finding these people is not an easy task. No one understands that better than Tatyana Pasechnaya, Head of Human Resources. While many engineers see good opportunities for advancement at western companies, filling positions in the commercial or marketing department is much more difficult. “Automation doesn’t sound quite as sexy as Gazprom, Google or the Russian search engine Yandex.” In addition, Russia’s training and education system never completely recovered after the end of the Soviet Union. Especially in rural areas, engineers with the English skills needed to work in a global market environment are rare.
Endress+Hauser competes for talent by offering excellent hiring conditions, targeted talent management and a ‘European’ corporate culture. It boils down to trust and personal responsibility. “In our training programs, we encourage our employees to reflect on the corporate values and their own role in the company,” says Tatyana Pasechnaya. Anti-corruption training is part of this effort as well. “As a Swiss company, we cannot afford to violate the rules. We apply the highest standards.”