Please, name the most important events of 2016 (could be one or more), that took place at the enterprise and explain their significance
Last year, we launched four rubber lines in the bulk tire plant. This initial stage is one of the main stages of the technological process and it largely determines the quality of the future tire. Commissioning of new lines allowed the company to improve the quality of rubber compounds, accelerate the process of rubber mixing, significantly reduce energy and labor costs and expand the range of tires. As a result of the application of new technologies, many parameters have been improved; the main ones are the grip of a tire on the road surface, reliability in operation and reduction in rolling resistance, which are the key guarantors for the safety of all road users. Today, summer tires under the Artmotion brand and steel cord tires under the brands Escortera and Forcerra are made from rubber compounds manufactured with the newest equipment, which makes it possible to speak with confidence about the new generation of Belarusian tires: more reliable, modern and environmentally friendly!
Let’s talk about exports. What share in exports took shipping to Russia?
In 2016, Russia accounted for about 60% of the exports. This is our traditional market, where we are already well known and have developed the distribution network, while all the equipment is fully adapted to our dimensions. GAZ, KamAZ, AvtoVAZ and Rostselmash are our regular customers. Naturally, the secondary market becomes ours by default. Our main product is heavy tires. This direction allows us to earn the main profit.
How acute is the issue of diversification?
We pay special attention to this issue. Gradually we are entering new countries and markets of new producers. But we must never forget about our traditional markets. However difficult it may be, it is necessary to fight for them. This year we have significantly increased shipments to Ukraine and shipped more than 1 million tires. Sales growth compared to 2015 was almost 40%. The next year we want to increase it by at least 15% due to the opening of new regional warehouses. I also want to underline the growth in sales to Siberia and the Far East. Since 2008, exports to this region grew more than seven-fold. If in 2008 Irkutsk Trade House Belshina sold about 30 thousand tires, in 2016 it was sold more than 130 thousand tires. This success was achieved due to the high quality of the products and due to the regular participation of Irkutsk representation of Belshina in tenders conducted by regional consumers, including electronic trading platforms. In the summer of 2015, in Irkutsk, the Belshina brand service tire center was opened, which allowed consumers (mainly mass production tires users), not only to purchase but also to receive any professional advice on selection and operation.
Alexey Vladimirovich, the authority of the Belarusian brand has long been firmly entrenched in the world arena. What makes it possible even now, in a difficult time for the world economy, to steadily achieve success in the domestic and foreign markets?
Of course, now the world economy is going through hard times. However, I want to note that even in such difficult conditions the enterprise did not stop in its development. We continue to produce new types of products that today allow us to enter new markets and compete with world leaders in tire production. The stable development of the enterprise is influenced both by good partnership, state support, and by the professionalism of the employees: not only the leaders, but the whole team. People are the main guarantor of successful work! I would like to pay special attention to this aspect, because thanks to the professionalism and cohesive work of the team the company has achieved and continues to achieve significant indicators.
Please, share the company’s plans for 2017 (modernization, new markets, new products, ...)
Today, the first phase of one of the largest investment projects for the organization of production of all-metal cord radial tires with a landing diameter of 57-63 inches came to the finish line. The total cost of the project is about $ 300 million. For us this is the most premium project. At the new production we intend to receive a tire with high added value. This makes possible to develop not only the SLS tires factory itself, but also other plants. Realization of this project will allow increasing the assortment and production volumes of these tires for the assembly of BelAZ dump trucks, as well as for foreign quarry equipment. Within the framework of the project, we have already received the first prototypes and are conducting their tests. We released the first all-steel cord radial tire with a landing diameter of 57 inches for some of the most advanced quarry dump trucks, with a carrying capacity of 200-250 tons. In the history of the plant, such tires were not produced. In the future, we are planning 63-inch tires production. These are the largest tires in the world. In the former USSR there are no manufacturers of oversized tires. I want to note that the reconstruction and modernization of the Belshina will not stop there, the projects on the plant of mass tires and large-sized tires continue. This is a permanent process that we constantly follow. Without it we do not see the development and future of the joint stock company. As for the expansion of the company’s product portfolio, we are constantly developing new tire sizes not only for cars, but also for trucks and agricultural machinery. We pay special attention to tires for large-sized machinery, because this direction is the most premium for us. I also want to emphasize that we entered the new year well-prepared from production and sales perspective. We managed to get back some of the customers through negotiations, new products offers and new quality. The interest has returned, and anti-dumping duties were introduced on Chinese tires within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Community. One of the important components of overall success is quality. We have developed the program to improve it. No matter how much they abuse or discuss the “dictatorship of quality” slogan, only in this way we will be able to achieve complex success. Therefore, our task for 2017 is to improve the quality, and necessarily the radial steel cord tires factory of oversized tires.