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Main | Archive | Issue 2/2008

Knauf in Russia: Manufacturing, Investment, Charity
Column: Under The Sign Of Mercury

Dr. Gerd Lenga, CEO of the Knauf Group CIS, told Diplomat about the Groups accomplishments and plans on the Russian market.

Mr. Lenga, today, more than 10 Knauf plants that are noted for their building materials are operating in Russia.. Are you planning to launch more manufacturing units?
We seek to provide the optimal conditions for supplying our clients with building materials, which is why we are expanding our production capacities so that our partners can get our products at short notice and with the minimum overhead expenses. The quality of materials put out by the Knauf plants is equally high worldwide. By the end of this year, we will complete construction of the first-ever plant of the Knauf Group in Siberia, not far from Irkutsk. The facility should become the largest and most advanced manufacturer of Knauf gypsum cardboard sheets in Russia. From there the products will be shipped to Siberia, the Far East as well as to Mongolia. In June, we will launch a new mining plant in the Arkhangelsk Oblast..

Apart from building new plants, we are extending existing production capacities. Major projects designed to overhaul and upgrade production are underway in Krasnogorsk near Moscow, Novomoskovsk (Tula Oblast) and Psebai (Krasnodar Krai).

How relevant do you, a representative of a foreign company, find the efforts of the federal and regional authorities aimed at supporting Knauf investment projects in Russian regions?
The last ten years have seen significant changes for the better. This also applies to both the legislative framework and the overall economic situation. The federal and regional authorities are allocating considerable funds for streamlining the available infrastructure. But, to enable the economy to develop more effectively, the Government of Russia needs to invest sizable resources in the infrastructure of the rail, river and trunk vehicular transportation network. Regional policies should be systemically re-oriented toward a rapid expansion of infrastructure.

Nowadays, the investment climate in the country is propitious. If the government and industrial enterprises cooperate as partners, with the former taking care of the infrastructural facilities and the latter investing in production, then we will be able to achieve the objectives set by the Russian leadership in the coming decade.

What is your assessment of the Russian personnels performance employed at the Knauf enterprises? Do you see any basic differences in the attitude toward work by the Russian and, say, German employees?
We are quite satisfied with the professional qualifications of the Russian specialists we take on. Besides, we run our own programs of specialists skill improvement, including training courses abroad. Whenever we launch new plants, their future staff gets training at the already working Knauf enterprises where the future employees get a sound theoretical and practical training. One of the principles of the Knauf philosophy reads, Our success is the sum of the achievements of our employees.

Knauf enterprises are often awarded for their active social stance. Where does this position find its expression?
Social responsibility is exactly the same integral part of Knauf investment activities in Russia as construction of new plants and the extension of the available manufacturing units. The profit generated by the manufacturing of products makes it possible to subsidize the treatment and rest of the staff members, send their children to summer camps, grant loans for housing construction or other needs, arrange professional holidays for the teams, support veterans materially, and provide other kinds of assistance. We are engaged in far-reaching charitable activities in the Russian regions where Knauf enterprises are located. Help is provided for those who need it, first and foremost, for orphanages, veterans homes, medical establishments, and Orthodox churches.


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