Cheboksary as a family business has become the main supplier of basalt to the West

We are used to the fact that new technologies are coming to Russia or the West, or are based on the old, old Soviet research institutes. But here’s the creators of Cheboksary family business "Galen", by contrast, have achieved commercial success in the fact that their products are adopting the West. About how it was created a unique, family-run business and the prospects for the use of composites in Russian life, "sparks" the founders told "Galen": the founder and chief inventor Valery Nikolaev and his eldest son, Eugene — part-time commercial director of the company.


 Photo source:volgahim.ru

On Business

Valery Nikolaev: I started from scratch. In the early 1990s, our factory producing chemical products, where I worked for chemical engineer for more than 20 years, came to conversion, and our main products have become useless. Here it was necessary to think of what to do next and how to feed my family. Well, the choice is something special was not … At first, I was engaged in processing electroplating waste, began to build a plant for processing of liquid waste from the production of cables, built them in Rybinsk, in Vladimir, at home, in Cheboksary. He worked day and night, even though a large income I did not bring this occupation. Of course, enough bread, but no more. By the way, these are my settings are still working. Then engaged in packaging of solvents and other chemicals. The fact that our Cheboksary "Himprom" was shipping solvents only tanks and wagons, and for retail, you know, we need a smaller package. And I opened a small enterprise for additional cleaning products and packaging. Then came the crisis of 1998, which we like all the other domestic producers, gave a tremendous impetus for development — foreign counterparts of our products are available to consumers, and our product was sold out. There are free money, and I began to look closely, where they could be invested — not just profits, but also with interest for the mind …

Eugene Nikolaev: By the way, we initially at the insistence of my mother — she have a doctor by profession — would do the production of medical equipment. This explains our name "Galen" — in honor of the Roman physician Claudius Galen, the second after Avitsennymedika antiquity. But the medical equipment we have not gone, but there was an order for the production of composites, and the topic was close to his father.

About composites

Eugene Nikolaev: On the advice of our friends builders we decided to undertake the development and production of composite reinforcement for civil and industrial construction. The fact is that while in our construction industry just developed new requirements for energy efficiency, according to which all concrete walls should be three layers — that between the outer and inner layers of concrete was placed a layer of insulation. , New approaches to the compound layers of the "sandwich", and the father suggested that instead of the usual steel bars use of composite materials. And in the end he developed the entire production cycle.

Valery Nikolaev: Eight years after the creation of the product and the production, I learned that the 1960s in the USSR adopted a government program to reduce metallozavisimosti. Then was the first experience gained production and use of composites based on polymers and compounds basalt rock. This program has had and cosmic significance — after sending the Soviet moon rovers our scientists have construction projects Soviet base on the moon. And of what to build it? From local basalt, using imported composite reinforcement. However, by the end of 1970 all of these programs have been closed and abandoned, many discoveries have remained unclaimed … And when I started to work on the creation of composites, I knew nothing about these modern developments.

About the work

Eugene Nikolaev: In short, the essence of the production lies in the combination of basalt fibers and a polymer resin with the addition of nanoparticles, such as clay. The result is a light and very rigid shaft, which can then be cut to the desired part. It would seem simple, but the technology nobody in the world could come up with. Therefore the production line’s father received the award at an international conference in Baltimore, U.S.) — and it is in this country invented the technology of pultrusion technology that is making fiber composite profiles.

Valery Nikolaev: Well, now it’s all so easy to say, he took and developed. In fact, it was a very difficult process: there was no experience, no knowledge of polymers. All battered by trial and error. Do not sleep at night, think about everything, whether it is necessary to embody this idea in a metal or something else … You try to think so, and that, and when it rolled as it should, the soul simply sings with joy.

On the "cold bridges"

Valery Nikolaev: You know what a "cold bridges"? If we perform a thermal imaging survey panel facade of any home, then we will see against the background of purple cold walls here and there scattered hot orange dots — this is the location of the reinforcing steel, through which flows away from the warmth of our apartments. The use of composite reinforcement can eliminate these "heat bridges" and to reduce the heat loss through the walls by 30-40 percent. Furthermore, it is the use of steel reinforcement in the construction is the main cause of corrosion and the further deterioration of concrete structures. The use of our basalt can not only extend the life of concrete, but also significantly reduce its consumption by the construction.

Eugene Nikolaev: More than 30% of the supply of our products are for export — in the UK, the Middle East and North Africa. Especially appreciated our stuff in the UK, which has a program for the construction of energy-efficient — a "passive" housing. Also our nanostructured materials have been used in the construction area of transnational highway "Europe — Western China" in Tatarstan, a bridge in the UK, in the mines of the Kuzbass coal basin. Moreover, the use of nanotechnology for us is a real competitive advantage — nanostructured materials increase the strength of the product, which ultimately saves us polymeric materials and reduce the price of our products. The plans — to launch mass production of several more developments. The advantages of these products as compared to conventional counterparts are obvious: they are more durable, have absolute corrosion resistance, reduce the cost of construction.

About nepotism

Valery Nikolaev: Our company is a family — both my son, Eugene Jr. and Victor are working on "Galen". In my opinion, this is the perfect device business. Of course, at the time the children rebelled wanted to go somewhere, but I think so: the stronger the effect, the stronger the resistance of the material. And vice versa: if you want someone to tie to the business, then it is released. I sent my sons to the free bread and they came back.

Eugene Nikolaev: In my opinion, and my father had the perfect partnership. You see, there are two approaches to the business, when the inventor sells his goods, it is interesting to quickly blurt out his idea of consumer interest him in the opening, but the entrepreneur, in contrast, is interested in what is actually necessary to our client. Fath
er we have — the present inventor, it is not very interested in the commercial side, but the little I know of his technological issues, and so we have a good team at the junction of the two approaches. Of course, there are disputes and serious differences, but, as written in the constitution of our family, we have every right to be wrong. The errors — are forgiven.

Valery Nikolaev: The family constitution — a document on your computer, where painted all the basic principles of our family: honesty, respect, forgiveness. Also on the basis of analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of each person assigned roles between us — it’s Eugene after studying in London came up with.

Eugene Nikolaev: Nepotism company has both strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, all important decisions are made very quickly and efficiently, and that’s a plus. On the other hand, really can not get rid of even for an hour. Now we are fighting for our family get-togethers are not turned in planning meetings. That is more common issues can be discussed, but talk all the time about the work already painful … There is a third side of the coin: family conflicts. Let’s just say, the family business became involved, not all members of the family, and I think that’s fine. Because nepotism should not replace professional. For me, the ideal is the American approach to the family business, where the successor company to go through all the steps of the career ladder — from the lowest position. I worked with his father a laborer, pouring chemicals in a bottle, then became a foreman and so on.

On the Russian workers

Eugene Nikolaev: Today, the company employs 70 staff. To get a quality employee, you need to find the right motivation for the job, and it is not always money. The most important thing — it’s honest transaction. We agree with the people about the work, and if people see that this transaction is fair, that they are willing to work hard. In general, the Russian working incredibly enterprising and hardworking, but only enough shook the world, it is fully aware of. For example, everyone is complaining about alcoholism, but the French are drinking a lot more of our, and work — less.

Valery Nikolaev: We are developing a production not only in Russia. We try to practice a flexible approach, because to produce in Russia is not always beneficial and, in some cases, quite profitable. For example, our Indian partners can by Indian health standards allow the use of those chemicals that we are strictly prohibited. So many products easier to produce in India for the Indian market. We are not afraid of what we will steal our technology. Because if they can do it, would already have done. But it’s not as easy as it seems uninitiated.

About RUSNANO

Eugene Nikolaev: We are three years worked hard to become a RUSNANO project company — a status which gives us the green light for the cooperation of all of Russia’s development institutions. It is a matter of national importance, because it is for the future of composites. Do you know what the global statistics of consumption of composites? In Russia produced 400 grams of composites per person per year. In China — about a kilogram, while in the U.S. — more than 8 pounds. Steel, aluminum — it’s all the materials of the past century, because even the current aircraft by 60 percent is made of composite materials.

Valery Nikolaev: To be honest, in the production of basalt for construction of me is not so interesting. I had already thought of it all, created, delivered, as they say on their feet, now let the children of all further develop. I am also interested in new directions — for example, the use of composites in the road works in the energy sector or even in space. And that, in vain, whether that Soviet scientists have dreamed about the moon?

Source: Journal of the "Spark», № 47 (5206), 28.11.2011

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