"WE INVEST IN OURSELVES" – GENERAL DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURAL COMPANY POBEDA VICTOR GRECHIN
Center of Business Information of Pskov Region (Site news), June
Crisis is the best time for investments, especially investments in yourselves. Many Western analysts and billionaires (Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim Helu). Russian specialists speak about this now too. Thus, according to Anna Izmailova, head of market communications of Stockholm School of Economics, in the crisis time investments in your own development is the only kind of risk-free investments that will start bringing dividends at once.
Example of the investment strategy of agricultural company Pobeda is an illustrative confirmation of this. Ninety percent of profit of the company is spent on investments in production annually. It is not surprising that despite the current economic difficulties the company not only preserved its positions but also became one of the leading agricultural enterprises of the Northwest of Russia. In a conversation with general director of the agricultural company Victor Grechin we found out the reasons of such success.
- Which positions does the company have on the market of agricultural products of Pskov Region?
- We are on the first place according to production volume. Our joint-stock company uses all kinds of sale: big-scale wholesale, small-scale wholesale and retail. Fresh vegetables and potherbs of high quality are brought to the points of sale (there are six of them on the territory of Pskov and home settlement of the company) daily and these products enjoy stable demand of the buyers
- Which dangers did the company encounter at different times? Which steps did it take to avoid the fate of many agricultural enterprises of the region and to avoid its breakup?
- The fact that we did not destroy the company and did not tear it apart unlike many others was our bug advantage. I remember that in 1992 when there began reorganization in agricultural sector we gathered for a general meeting and started thinking how to organize production in new conditions. A neighboring enterprise switched to the farmer principle fully then. But I think that we were wise enough to abstain from this step. We issued a decree on collective work and on establishment of a closed joint-stock company. As a result, land remained in the company like it was there in the Soviet time.
Competition against vegetables from Belarus was a big problem for us in the middle of the 1990s. As a result of this competition, we had to sell our products at very low prices. We offered early cabbage to St. Petersburg and bought transport for its delivery. For supplying of the city we started restoring the volumes of potatoes production and drew a credit for a program of elite potatoes. Afterwards, we developed this success and built our own potato storage facility to sell potatoes in winter at higher prices. We also started producing seeds for dacha dwellers.
We composed a separate business plan for animal breeding. We increased not only the livestock but also productivity. We also work with pedigree cattle. We have given up small-scale processing and supply milk to the Pskov city dairy. We supply 25% of the products made from our milk to Pskov.
The company also started establishing new partner relations actively. At present, Pobeda sells its products in 1,400 enterprises and organizations of not only Pskov Region but also St. Petersburg. As a result, we have worked with profit for many years in succession and spend 90% of it on development of production.
- What may become a result of investments in the vegetable business of Pobeda?
- Of course, we would like residents of Pskov to see cucumbers, tomatoes and potherbs on their tables throughout the whole year in the near future. We plan this. We modernize the exiting greenhouse facility and transit to a new technology: we work with local peat of Krypetskoe company.
We broadened the supply: residents of the city already noticed and appreciated new kind of pink tomatoes Rozaletta. Until recently, they came to us from the south or from abroad. We noticed the interest of buyers of Pskov in this kind of tomatoes and started growing them. It was possible to say that we took the wishes into account.
If we speak about big plans, for 2017-2018 we plan registration and construction of a new greenhouse facility. We will develop 3 hectares in a green field. This will allow increasing of labor productivity and production volumes. Twelve hectares of greenhouses are necessary to supply Pskov with vegetables and we have only six hectares. Thus, so far we meet only 30-35% of needs of the population. Due to the vegetation period of the plants we also can collect not more than two harvests per yea: the first cucumbers appear in February and tomatoes appear in April.
In any case, it is necessary to modernize production facilities and to increase labor productivity, without this it will be very difficult to increase production volumes. Agriculture means new jobs and quality of local products is very decent now. We work according to GOST standards and we are ready to supply residents of Pskov with high-quality products as much as we can.
- Opening of the first part of a farm with design capacity bigger than 4,000 tons of milk per year took place in your company at the end of summer of the last year. What is the current situation in the new business?
- Agricultural company Pobeda has livestock of 1,600 cows of black spotted kind and we are a pedigree reproducer of the livestock of black spotted cows. Productivity of the milk livestock amounted to 5,475 kilograms. We plan to achieve an output of 8,000 kilograms of milk per cow per year in the near future. The first part of the milk farm put into operation in 2014 consists of premises for keeping of cows and calves, birth department and milking module.
We invested 300 million rubles in construction and equipment of the first part of the animal farm including 196 million rubles of credit. To a certain extent, we were lucky: we managed to draw the credit before the crisis. Along with this, banks trust us: we have never let the credit organizations down. We need about 80 million rubles more for construction of the second part of the farm. It will accommodate premises for storage of animal feed and premises for calves. The third part is improvement of the milk farm.
Growth of productivity of the animals by 15-20% already begun. We plan growth in the limits of 40% in the future.
- Which problems did you have to encounter during launch of the new agricultural project?
- Costs of the imported equipment necessary for us are connected to the euro exchange rate that has been growing permanently lately. This is also a new business for us and time is needed for people to get adapted and to learn to work at new equipment.
Human resources problem is very acute. New equipment requires training of specialists. A college was opened on the basis of the agricultural technical school with support of the region to enable students to learn to work at modern equipment. Five students undergo practice in our company now. We eye them and select future specialists.
There are no problems in milk sales: we make a product of the highest kind, we bring it to the Pskov dairy already next day and on the second day milk already goes to the shelves. These are high-quality products made, which is very important on ecologically pure Pskov land. Specialists have said for a long time that it is worth to preferring the products produced in the region of residence to others. We produce 13 tons of milk per day now and we plan to produce 15-17 tons. It is too early to guess yet but we plan growth.
- In August, agricultural company Pobeda will celebrate its 85 jubilee. What do you think is the main achievement of the company during these years?
- The main achievement is in people. Personnel turnover in the company is not big, we have normal labor condition and that is why many people work until retirement and remain with us after retirement.
Read the article entitled "Our Pobeda" to learn why vegetables of Pobeda can be called ecologically pure without exaggeration, how the agricultural company and the drawing on packaging of popular milk from Pskov is connected and on what the company stages.
Photo excursion around the company is here.