Switching to crisis management

07 May 2020

Pumori Corporation doubled its revenue YoY in the 1st quarter of 2020. However, the engineering services provider had to apply coronavirus control measures, like everyone else. The stay-at-home order has created a new reality with its problems and challenges. The Corporation’s General Director Alexander Balandin tells the magazine how Russian companies adapt to the coronavirus crisis conditions.

― Mr. Balandin, what changes have been brought about by the COVID‑19 threat?

― It took us practically the whole April to understand what was happening. The first total reaction was fear. It was only closer to May that an intelligible line of behavior began to shape. Even we, one of Russia’s largest engineering companies, have run into the situations of stopped payments and frozen tenders which were already launched. Nobody was fully understanding what was happening.

― Have production facilities been suspended because of the stay-at-home recommendations?

― No, there’s no talk about complete stoppage of industry. Minimum 95% of companies have switched to remote work. We have also made everything we could, taking on board recommendations of the government and Rospotrebnadzor. We have permitted work from home for all employees that were able to establish the necessary working conditions there. We provided them with all they needed. But those who operate machine tools must continue going to the workshop. We did everything we could for their safety. Some companies were unable to overcome the difficulties. But we have to rub through it. Hopefully, it’ll clear up in May.

― What economic consequences are you getting ready for?

― All issues of the current slowdown of the economy will manifest themselves later. The consequences of the April lockdown will be felt by our Corporation already in the 3rd quarter of 2020. What is promising is that most of the earnings usually come at the end of the year: everybody tries to make good on their obligations and implement the year’s budget. Maybe the winter of 2020 will help to compensate for the contemplated fall. A sense of promise is conveyed by the prospect of deferred demand. This is the third crisis in my professional life. Those of 1998 and 2008 were much harder psychologically. A new decline in production was expected in 2018, but somehow, circumstances would have it that the companies were able to work calmly for almost another two years. All anticrisis decisions survived in our memories, we still had all databases and archives, and these are helping us now to evaluate our work in the challenging economical conditions. We are comparing the staff numbers then and now, the wages; in fact, we are re-living our experiences gathered. This approach makes us set ourselves up for work and get rid of pessimism.

― Perhaps, it wasn’t easy to bring yourselves to moving everything to the new premises in 2019, either; however, it was a success, wasn’t it?

― Yes, we had been preparing for a long time and assessed several options meticulously. We settled on the offer made by the Ural Industrial Rubber Products Plant. My coworkers and assistants took it as moving from the city centre to a kind of barn. Although it had the infrastructure, the plot looked very unattractive. Nevertheless, it can be said now that everybody has forgotten about their denial and apprehension, which I had to combat with in the past. Now they say how great it is that we have moved exactly here. The capital repair is over, all production facilities are established, the areas have been occupied. The staff work in state-of-the-art workplaces. More than that, IP telephony was brought into service. In the end, settling in the new location did not obstruct Pumori Corporation meet its plan targets. We managed to end 2019 without losses. It's possible that we’ll overcome all difficulties of the year 2020 with equal success.

Regiony Rossii magazine, April 2020 (Issue 168)