The restrictive measures introduced due to the pandemic have become a difficult test for Russian business. The current situation negatively affected the financial performance of many companies and became a kind of strength test.
Elena Rassudimova, General Director of Guardian Glass in Russia, CIS and Turkey, spoke about anti-crisis measures, priorities and tasks in 2020
Elena, about a year ago you took over as CEO of Guardian Glass. How did you become the head of the company?
For almost 10 years I have been working for Guardian Glass, held various positions in the financial unit, including the CFO. Our company always moves forward, changes business processes, approaches and allows people to develop, achieve new goals. As a result of the transformation in the team, I got the opportunity to try myself in a new role, which I am very happy about as a challenge for further personal and professional growth.
“This year, we all faced a pandemic and an unusual crisis that affected all industries. What was the priority and what goals did the company focus on during this period?
- First of all, we focused on the safety of employees. Therefore, first of all, we provided everyone with personal protective equipment, and also adapted business processes to the new reality. Office employees of the company worked remotely not only during the peak of the epidemiological situation, many of them effectively carry out their duties from the "home office" to this day. We have taken other precautions as well, for example, everyone who visits our factories in Russia undergoes a non-contact temperature measurement procedure. This is done without the participation of a second person, in an equipped room, using a special device. Glass production is a continuous process, so it was very important for us to ensure the stability of supplies, to prevent unplanned production stops, and also to protect the liquidity of the business. In addition, despite certain restrictions due to the situation, we have always been and remain in touch with our clients: we conduct negotiations, organize training seminars and work out joint actions.
–Has the crisis influenced the company's plans to modernize production?
- We managed to complete the scheduled repair of the furnace at the plant in Ryazan on time, the team managed to carry out all the work with the involvement of foreign colleagues before the restrictions began. Thanks to timely repairs, we continue to maintain consistent product quality and maintain a longer furnace life.
Speaking of products: what new does Guardian Glass offer?
- The plant in the Rostov region produces a line of products for the architectural glass market - SunGuard ® SuperNeutral. Thanks to double silver deposition, this product has unique energy-saving, sun-protection, aesthetic characteristics and is suitable for the implementation of the most complex and non-standard architectural solutions. We have also expanded the line of products for the interior segment with eco-friendly UltraMirror TM mirrors, which are produced using copper-free technology. This mirror successfully resists aggressive environments such as cleaning agents or high humidity, while maintaining the purity and quality of the reflection. Another new product is the glossy painted DecoCristal ® glass. It is produced according to a special patented technology: the coating is applied to the sheet glass by high-precision filling, so the color is ideally stable and uniform. This glass can be used for interior design of residential and office premises, cafes, sales areas. The product is currently available in black and white.
Recently it became known about the adoption by the Government of the Russian Federation of regulatory measures on energy-efficient glass as mandatory in the construction of buildings and structures. How would you comment on this innovation?
- In Russia, the norms for the resistance to heat transfer of translucent structures have not been revised for about 20 years, although the requirements have always been very low. In European countries, in recent years, the requirements for translucent structures have become more stringent, and today up to 90% of the glazing there is heat-saving. In 2018, Guardian Glass, together with other companies in the glass industry, participated in the development of amendments to the Code of Practice for Thermal Protection of Buildings and updating the requirements for energy efficiency of translucent structures. In particular, the experts prescribed the actual coefficients of resistance to heat transfer for all climatic zones of Russia. However, despite the fact that the changes entered into force on June 15, 2019, they were only advisory in nature. Therefore, our company, together with colleagues in the market, as well as with representatives of the industry of other building materials, initiated work to include changes in the list of standards and codes of practice approved by the Government of the Russian Federation. Government Decree No. 985 was adopted on July 4, 2020 and entered into force on August 1, 2020. Warm new buildings will be one of the important changes. Housing will now have to comply with the new standards of heat conservation, which can have a positive effect on energy savings both in the family budget and in the country as a whole. For the industry of translucent structures, this means that the glazing of new buildings will need to be carried out in accordance with the norms. For example, in Moscow, two low-emission glasses will need to be installed in a two-chamber glass unit, and in Krasnodar, one such glass in a single-chamber glass unit will be enough. It is safe to say that the new requirements fully meet the modern needs of the construction market and society, not only in terms of the quality of housing and its components, but also in terms of its environmental focus - saving heat in houses will have a positive effect on reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
Elena, in conclusion, tell us about the priorities of the company in the near future?
- One of the highest priority areas of the company's development is environmental friendliness of production. Recently, we have achieved certain success in this area. For example, from 2017 to 2019, the Ryazan plant reduced the amount of waste from almost 9,000 tons per year to just over 1,000 tons per year. And we do not stop there. In addition, among the priorities is work on expanding the assortment line for Russian customers. The company has a Science and Technology Center located in the United States, its task is to develop new coatings, processes and technologies that allow us to provide markets in all regions of the company's presence with the most innovative products. And, of course, digitalization and transformation of all business processes remain relevant. This applies to production, sales and management. Globally and regionally, Guardian Glass recognizes the importance of change and sees it as a priority for development. Regardless of external challenges and internal transformations, Guardian Glass strives to remain a reliable partner for our customers. Therefore, we try to meet the changing market requirements, offer products and services, anticipating the expectations of the end user. The strength and value of a partnership is tested in challenging times. The Guardian Glass team in Russia is confident that together with our partners we will be able to overcome any difficulties and, by combining our experience and knowledge, continue the evolution of solutions for facade and window structures.