The quarantine has enabled us to make decisions faster

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
The quarantine has enabled us to make decisions faster

The CEO of Stonehenge Andrey Rafalsky talked with Alexei Prokhorenko (CEO of a partner company GTInvest) about the impact of eco-trends on the industrial floors market

Stonehenge company specializes in industrial floors being the market leader in Ukraine since 2007. Hundreds of tons of polymer systems and 1,500,000 m2 of flooring have been sold over the last 14 years.

Our customers are large manufacturers and factories, stores and development companies in Ukraine and abroad, such as the Bentley Motors plant in England, ROSHEN confectionery, NOVUS supermarket chain, and the largest Ukrainian butter factory Rud in Zhytomyr, Huon Aquaculture fish processing plant, BUMA Group in Krakow, and dozens of others. Stonehenge is an official and exclusive dealer of English company Flowcrete, a European leader in the production of polymer floor coatings, Dutch company Blastrac — European market leader in the production of equipment for the preparation of bases, Polish brand CONECTO — producer of expanding profiles for expansion joints.

The CEO of Stonehenge Andrey Rafalsky talked with Alexei Prokhorenko (CEO of a partner company GTInvest) about the impact of eco-trends on the industrial floors market. He also shared his views on how to combine aesthetics, functionality, and quality service and revealed his secrets of successful cooperation with the giants of the global market.

- How has the crisis affected your business and customer relations? Do you see any consolidation in your market segment?

Honestly, the ongoing crisis has had no impact on our business. All our building projects are long-term, and we have been working on them for many years. The projects we implement are not born and do not finish quickly. I do not know what will happen next, but we always think long-term.

We do observe consolidation. Often we subcontract other construction companies, and they also hire us for their projects.

- What is going on in the industrial flooring market now, and what are the main trends for 2021?

I do not think that 2021 will be unique in our segment. I believe that over time, perhaps not this year, there will be a trend toward less human labor because of increasing labor costs. The transition to more technologically automated and project-based ways of floor installation will possibly take place.

- How much harder has it become to maintain leadership in your market?

Our efforts have a different vector of winning in the market or finding new ways to stand up to competitors, and every year they are new competitors.

This year and in the coming years, we will find tactical moves to prove our leadership to our customers in the Ukrainian construction market.

- What should your prospective clients pay attention to when he orders your services?

Based on our experience, our potential clients should look through many solutions and consult with a specialist before they decide to order the floor installation in our company.

I will give you an example. One of our potential clients in the food industry gave us a seemingly finished solution in which they have not accounted for slopes, drainage, etc. They request we do only the finish coating. In the end, the customer does not get quality deliverables, because it was necessary to get a professional design solution in the first place.

- What is the most unusual project you have ever worked on?

It was the use of our system solutions in places where they do not quite suit in terms of technology and properties. For instance, floors in a church or nightclub bathrooms.

- What new products are you launching? How do you come up with new product ideas?

We would rather offer international technologies for floor finishing than off-the-shelf products. We are looking into American and European innovations at trade shows or the Internet, and later implementing them in Ukraine.

To remain a market leader, our company is continuously in search of new opportunities, inventions, and know-how in the construction market, namely the industrial floors.

- How long does it take to estimate and implement a new project?

The estimation of a new project is relatively short: it can take several hours to a few days. But the full implementation may take months or even 2–3 years. It differs from project to project, and largely depends on customers and their readiness to launch their project.

- What technological innovations do you use in your business?

We use solutions from foreign manufacturers who are leaders in their industries. It pertains to both big professional equipment for mechanization and small design solutions of specialized companies. It all enables us to do our job faster and more efficiently.

- How do you evaluate the changes in the business climate in Ukraine over the last few years?

Our company has undergone only positive changes and is moving in the right direction. In some areas, it is not as perfect as we wanted, but we are moving forward, and the business climate has notably improved.

- What is the impact of global warming on business?

The impact of climate change on the business atmosphere as a whole is extremely tangible. More moderate winters allow us to extend our performance period. Previously customers suspended their construction projects in winters due to the high costs of heating and transportation issues. It is necessary to maintain the air and ground temperature above 10°C.

I would like to highlight the impact of environmental trends in our market. More and more big customers get interested in complying with HACCP regulation (in the food industry) or BREEAM (in commercial real estate). The direction towards ecological construction (in terms of materials, technologies, and fumes during maintenance) has an even greater influence on the expansion of the polymer floors market and the development of new technologies.

- What rules of life help you to grow?

For me, the crucial thing is my reputation. Customers are confident in my word and they trust me. Not always everything can be done as planned because temporary unforeseen circumstances, third parties actions, changes in the business environment, or even weather can disrupt the plans. However, our customers know that my focus is on the project execution (in the shortest possible time, with the best output, at the minimum cost to the customer). It allows us to cooperate with many customers over 10 years.

- The whole world is aiming for better quality service. What do you do in this regard?

We focus primarily on our customers’ needs. First thing after opening our client’s drawing we determine the space zoning of the premises and select the optimal coating in terms of functionality, requirements of maintenance, aesthetic preferences of the customer, and the price.

Whether building a new facility or renovating existing ones, our customers assume that they will not return to the construction issues three to five years following the project completion. Therefore, it is necessary to choose the right systems, as well as qualitatively install them. That is why we invest in the technological park and professional development of our staff. It is the foundation of our responsible attitude.

- Tell us about the automation of business processes in your company? What IT solutions do you use in your company?

It is hard to imagine now the efficient work of a company without a CRM system, professional website, and optimization of logistics. The quarantine has made adjustments in the negotiation process, opened up the potential for remote communications and project management, enabling us to make decisions quicker.

- What is your outlook for five years from now?

The world is changing rapidly. I assume that the development of technologies will make it possible to select coating systems more efficiently, the materials will change to more environmentally friendly. They will require less installation time and will be utilized for a longer time time. I hope that the standardization of production facilities and premises will advance, customers’ requirements will be aimed at quality and functionality. I believe that the capacities of Ukrainian enterprises will grow enough to satisfy both domestic and international consumption.

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