The example of the “WALTER” GC shows that business has begun to trust domestic specialists to manage large-scale projects.
The “WALTER Company” manages industrial construction projects and launches large woodworking enterprises producing MDF, OSB and wood particleboard. Project support, from concept development and obtaining a construction permit to “build and turnkey”, is at the heart of its corporate identity.
The company’s functionality has broadened of late: now it acts as a General contractor, fulfilling the whole complex of construction and installationasse
Evgeny Walter, the company’s CEO, discusses how difficult it is to create a start-up and to launch the enterprise from nothing.
— What knowledge is required for successful project management?
— Firstly, the efficiency of a project directly depends on the quality of management, especially in industrial construction.
Secondly, both management experience as it is and experience in the sphere of design and construction and logistics setup are important, as well as financial and legal knowledge. And when the whole complex of necessary knowledge and skills works together, you get the results.
If you get down to such complicated business as the start of a new enterprise, you must have all the taps in your hands: from equipment and materials delivery management and construction and assembly control, to construction quality outcome monitoring.
My personal experience of project activities shows that, practically, start-up success depends on three main components: the concept, the team and the investor. The concept should be well-founded and justified, and supported by market analysis. The team implementing the project should have experience of similar projects and should not be afraid of the external experts. And the investor should believe in the concept and the project team.
This is the ideal formula for success we are striving for while doing our work, but in practice one of the components may be absent.
For example, while financing might be steady and the project team might be good, the project concept might be weak, or, vice versa… a brilliant idea and a highly-qualified team might be looking for the finance for the idea’s implementation for a long time.
Our company deals with the recovery of the project’s life balance.
— In recent years the Group’s functions have expanded. The “WALTER Construction” company has appeared. It deals with construction and assembly work, designing and engineering, and works as a prime contractor. That is, from mere project management, the company has turned to construction. What’s the reason for such a turnaround? What attracted you to the construction sphere?
— I am sure that one cannot recommend to his customers what and how to build unless he has practical experience in the construction sector. I “bumped my head” a lot while implementing projects and now I can share specific advice on how to avoid different problems even at the business-plan creation stage.
By the way, due to our rich project experience we get different offers, from budget development to carrying out a full-rate technology audit of investment projects. My personal participation in project implementation has not been restricted by my manager’s study. So, our team and I really know how to organize construction and assembly works on a construction site with minimal risks.
— The company is known to have expanded both its functions and competence: you now take part in nuclear power engineering objects construction. It takes effort and courage to diverge from the beaten track (you used to specialize in woodworking enterprises). Was the risk justified?
— The nuclear power industry is a top-class activity and a big challenge for me personally. The decision to try my team’s hand at the atomic energy industry was forced by circumstances. During the construction of the Tomlesdrev plant in Tomsk, the construction work under the “Proryv” (“Breakthrough”) project included the creation of next-generation nuclear energy technologies.
We decided that we should not miss out on the chance to take part in such a large-scale, Russia-wide important project, especially since we were in the immediate vicinity and had all the necessary resources. We had to pass a difficult testing procedure, train our employees… it took much time and effort to receive all the necessary access certificates and licenses.
As far as the woodworking industry is concerned, we cannot say much about large-scale projects in the sphere of particleboard wood chipboard, MDF and OSB production today. The crisis has made everybody reconsider how to run a business. Credit finance is very expensive, and investors do not take risks, but we are not leaving the industry and are working full-scale on projects, including some in the wood-pulp and paper industry.
Of course, risk does not always pay off, but I am sure we should take it. How shall we move ahead otherwise?