Andrey Gorokhov: We began with clay extraction. This is a very narrow and specialized business with a limited customer base that must be sought out. But the team trusted its entrepreneurial sense. And you know what? Five years later, we had a company with $300 million in capitalization.
How did we manage this? The answer is simple: people and desire.
We brought together a team of bright-eyed people striving for development. We relied mainly on local talent rather than mercenary stars. Our most important “acquisitions” have been young and capable people full of initiative, who took little time to reach, or even exceed, the level of stellar managers. They are absolutely devoted to what they are doing. Thus, the important thing is to create conditions for new ideas and initiatives.
We try to make this rule a part of our culture: to maintain integrity and openness no matter what. An employee who makes a mistake (as he is only a human) must report it immediately. Then the team can minimize or prevent any negative consequences. He or she should understand that there will be no retribution.
But an employee who makes a mistake and says nothing will be dismissed. Because this means he does not trust the team and is not devoted to our business, and we did not agreed on that. There can be only one logical outcome: this employee should not be part of the team.
As you may well remember, in 2008 the global economy brought us a good, although not cheap, team-building exercise in the form of a financial crisis. We were not scared and we used this period to improve our skills. We optimised our organisational structure to make it as smooth and lean as possible. We modified business processes, including purchasing and sales, to make them more efficient.
But perhaps our primary achievement was a change in worldview. We overcame the conservatism that prevails in the extraction industry and developed a broader view of things.
The entrepreneurial spirit, strategic thinking, analytical expertise, and a healthy scepticism came to the forefront.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average provides eloquent confirmation. It listed 12 companies 100 years ago. Only one has survived to this day: General Electric. The others turned out to be too good to improve. This is what destroyed them. When speaking about development, I mean not only working to start new business areas. This can also mean getting better at what you are already doing. The main thing is not to stay in place.
If you dream of playing over the long term, you should be prepared to invest in your development. And you must be ready to invest in the development of the country where you live and work. This might sound simple or naive or like a populist slogan, but I sincerely believe that without looking into the future and investing in the country where you operate, any business is doomed to be short-lived regardless of the amount of capital.