Author: Theodore Lobanov, Russian reporter
Photo: Alexei Tikhonov
What could be more common in the oil rig, aircraft and train wheels? In all cases, a small production company in St. Petersburg Physics and Mathematics called "VIRIAL." If it is very, very briefly summarize the description of its products, you get something like this: "It can work in harsh environments, not erased, does not break."
"On Friday all day was in St. Petersburg. There is such a company — "VIRIAL." It is … more than 10 years supplying the largest Russian manufacturers of pumping equipment bearings … So. "RUSNANO", "VIRIAL" and one of the largest Scandinavian investment funds CapMan established on the basis of "Virial" project company with a total investment of 1.7 billion rubles.
The first result on August 19, "virials" we have opened a new production line … It looked something like this: we are the CEO, "Virial" Rumyantsev Vladimir Igorevich pressed the red button and the door vacuum-compression oven slowly closed. The furnace started working … "
This is an entry from the blog Anatoly Chubais. Then you need something like a statement of the product range, the definition of resident status of a special economic zone, the calculations of the coming earnings and other economic calculations. What we are interested not so much the numbers, how many people. More precisely, one person — the one Vladimir Rumyantsev, who, along with Chubais pressed the red button. Once he was a chemical engineer, admitted to military secrets …
It is this vacuum-compression wave Chubais and Rumyantsev solemnly launched in the summer by pressing the red button
Almost like a diamond
Peter sleeping area. Factory "Svetlana".
— That it was named after the daughter of Stalin! Svetlana Alliluyeva — heard? — Strict confidentially old lady asks me to pass.
Version, of course, touching, but the name of the plant appeared in the six years before the tyrant got a daughter. Deciphered it prosaically: "Light bulb". Enterprise old: at the beginning of the twentieth century there were doing the sleeve for cigarettes, then the cigarette factory was nationalized and replacement bulbs.
Now its premises are for offices and small production. Half of the buildings looks uninhabited. I’m trying to find a high-tech company "VIRIAL", but so far come across boarded-up doors, metal fittings in the bushes and a faded sign "Cafe".
Finally find the right building — near the entrance of people scurrying around. In the hallway smelling of paint and motor oil, seeking cabinet CEO.
— Do you want me? — A gray-haired man asks blankly.
— Vladimir Rumyantsev you?
— Yes, I am, — he says, takes off his glasses, rubs them and hoisting the back on the nose, — pass into the office. So what? Of course, you have come to ask about how I made a lot of money. And I have not, no millions and mansions — dots one the «i» Rumyantsev.
— Then we can talk about how you managed not to make them …
Questions about money chemical engineers do not like, so he immediately goes to a story about how the company is doing.
— That’s all we do — he looks around his hand a small glass booth with obscure units. — For example, this is the bearing of silicon carbide — he hardness second only to diamond and boron nitride. By the way, with boron nitride, we also work …
— And as far as it is hard and durable?
— If you knock it with a hammer, it will be very short-lived. But to work in the oil it can practically forever.
— In oil — it’s like?
— Keep it small details that you do not need. The main thing — its strength. Imagine a pump that is lowered into the ground at two kilometers, and even deeper, and the water is pushed out with the oil. Presented? Now try to understand that that’s a ring on it — it shows a large black ring with a perfectly smooth surface — not only that pushes the weight of the huge metal structure, so also the water column. And there goes not just water with the oil — add to that the abrasive: sand. And if it was a ring of metal, would be instantly erased. But silicon carbide — he grinds this sand, because it is harder.
Silicon carbide is a "raw" version — is a powder. Was first obtained already in 1893, so that the material is not new, but now it is made stronger nowhere. It happens naturally occurring, but is extremely rare, and on the characteristics of anything is no good. They also say that it is very much in the space — in dust clouds around carbon-rich stars. Only benefit from this world no.
But the synthetic silicon carbide is used in bullet-proof vests and brake pads car "Porsche". Americans have learned to make from it "diamonds for the poor" — to distinguish high-quality copies of the gems can only jeweler.
However, limited to silicon carbide in the "virial" did not. The company produces ceramics based on zirconia rings, plugs and nozzles alumina and much more — a very solid and unique. Technological equipment with these accessories are happy to buy oil and chemical companies. There is something to be proud of.
— We have a whole arsenal of ceramic and metal products, not so: one received a sverhmaterial, and let’s now all of them to handle.
— Say, you have a lot of competitors?
— Yes, there is no competition, where? That you! Only friends of the market — slyly smiling Rumyantsev.
— And what did you do before you have moved into the business?
— I GIPKh (State Institute of Applied Chemistry. — "PP") was a senior research fellow at the materials science lab. He was responsible for the direction of the development of materials to industrial production. Engaged materials for the aerospace and aviation, that is, for purely private use.
— Then everything is working — the other thing is that, in fact, I have never changed my profession. I am a chemical engineer — by education, life experience, by conviction.
— According to the beliefs — it’s like?
— Very simple: chemical engineer always answers the question "How do?". How to solve the problem of how to organize production.
In the early 90’s the matter came from the plane of chemical engineering in economic management. The plants are bent, there was no money. Together with his wife Rumyantsev registered a company, attracted friends began to search for contracts for the production of the same heavy-duty components.
— I did not wait until the plant closes, although it was still possible to bask in the warm pipe factory. I was then forty years. I was literally in the same p
ants — nothing. We have assembled a team, took a chance and … lost. Having earned a little money, we made all those stupid things that only you can make. Bought the shares on a stock exchange, which then disappeared. Rented a shop, tried to restore it, but very quickly gone: there began wildly privatization of the change of leadership.
— Raider seizure?
— I would not say that, just became impossible to work … It is really hard to explain all this to you: as my son, the experience of generations — he is completely different. You were pioneers?
— You see, has something so wrong.
— To tell your story, it is not necessary to remember orange ties, snitches, coupons and turns.
— No, it’s not. Ties were red … You find it hard to understand me, you have not found the pioneers. I’m sixty years.
However, to understand the next steps Rumyantsev possible without the Pioneers. He, like any sane person, trying to stay afloat due to the fact that he had, connections and experience.
It took almost eight years to "VIRIAL" was similar to the classic production company. Rumyantsev took on any projects that could bring money and simultaneously sought orders, gathering a team of engineers. No permanent office, except for the loft own wooden house (legal address of the new business) or the production hall was not. After five years of wandering, he still carried.
— We are supported. There is a Regional Fund for Scientific and Technological Development of St. Petersburg — at the time it was headed by Andrei Fursenko — says Rumyantsev.
At the beginning of the 90 employees of the Physico-Technical Institute. Joffe Yury Kovalchuk, Andrei Fursenko, decided to build a technological "garden city" in the factory "Svetlana". It just so happens that "VIRIAL" was held by all criteria and in 1996 he was given a visa to stay in the newfangled technology cluster. Silicon Valley of "Svetlana" did not work, but Rumyantsev sat down with the technology is here to stay. Bought the equipment for mass production, has created a design office and two research laboratories.
— Here in this knowledge-intensive businesses could gain a foothold on legal grounds and did not twitch. After three years, we have already started to produce products, which has become the main: Bearings for various types of mechanisms that operate in harsh environments — I’ll show them.
— Say, that’s you’re whole life is actually doing the same, do not you bored?
— So in fact this is the only thing I understand that I can! I can not bake buns, meat trade. I am a chemical engineer, I can put something on production. This is even more excitement, the game: he has achieved success — not achieved, that came out of the oven or not. Struck order, bypassed competitor, ie companion of the market — hastily negotiated Rumyantsev.
Quiet and aggressively
Not so long ago, Rumyantsev sold part of his small company "RUSNANO".
— Period ended a small co-op, as well as a period of personal enrichment. Never wanted nothing "prihvatizirovat" it would be different — you see, would be an oligarch — laughing director of "Virial".
The money raised from the sale of the business, it is going to expand production, increase output and to approach foreign markets in which the company over twenty years of existence did not come out. Although attempts have been.
— We had a project, patented technology for creating a conductive glass, which even supported the Dutch government — says Rumyantsev. — Use of vacuum waste oil …
— Oil — this is hydrocarbons. So, it can be precipitated out of carbon — for example, on that same cloth.
— What are the benefits?
— Methods of application of the material obtained only limited by our imagination: from giant wind turbines to feeder for rabbits! The patent for this is all we have transferred to the Netherlands, and he’s gone. Splyl was yes.
Expansion in the international market Rumyantsev then decided to postpone, but now the company is experiencing a new upsurge. Along with "RUSNANO" came fund CapMan, JSC "Siberian Organics" and a budget of 1.6 billion rubles.
— This is a vital necessity if we want to develop. I was able to pump out all the businesses that may be — to ensure a comfortable old age. As many do, and then could not care less!
— So I do not understand why you are not drained all the money out of here and have not gone to bed?
— You what? I feel totally immoral person? With me here to make friends, twenty years of life. And personally, I do not need much.
— Well, in that case you prefer personal enrichment?
— Next, next, bigger, taller. It is a big business. In front of a huge market with enormous potential. Need a different area, different equipment, modern, and as quickly as possible in order to compete with the West and the East.
Recently, the company announced that in 2016 they are going to bail out of 3.6 billion rubles, and export 20% of production. Now Rumyantsev one way — forward, as it was twenty years ago, no options, especially since the button with Chubais they’ve clicked on.