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Interview

with Alexey Goncharuk, Commercial Director, Tenzor

13.03.2013 / Energyboardroom

Tenzor’s roots date back to the late 1960s, early 1970s. How has the company evolved through the transition towards a market-based economy in Russia?
Created in 1968, Tenzor was founded by the Ministry of Machine Engineering and Mechanics. Initially, the company focused on producing equipment for the monitoring of nuclear power plants. At the time, this was a sector that enjoyed great attention in the country. It is fair to say that our company also developed together with the sector over time. We have introduced new technologies and our equipment has been used in nuclear power plants both in Russia and abroad.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, sector volumes decreased significantly. We had to start operating within the “New Market Relations.” As a result, we had to start looking for new areas of development and new products. While we initially mainly worked on monitoring and control equipment for fire extinguishing, we started adding systems for physical surveillance and perimeter defense in the 1990s and 2000s, in a framework of a joint U.S. program for the modernization of
facilities for nuclear weapons, the so-called Agency for Joint Threat Detection under the U.S. Department of Defense. We evolved into a truly integrated company providing holistic solutions to different facilities in nuclear, hydro, the Ministry of Defense, and so forth. Today, we focus on both fire extinguishing and physical defense systems.
Moreover, we possess immense scientific and technological potential to develop in other areas too. We can provide equipment in the broader sense. For instance, we have been engaged in projects in the field of healthcare, housing, transport systems modernization, and so forth.

How do you see today’s balance in terms of the sectors you deliver your solutions to?
Whereas we did not shift that much in focus, we do try to provide comprehensive defense solutions to other facilities as well today. The competitive advantage of our company is our systemic approach. We work on an entire cycle: from the preliminary analysis, through the development of different models and stages of planning, to the production and construction, as well as the commissioning of the systems. Since we are also producers, we are directly responsible for the quality of each element. Our name is linked to the highest quality of not only our entire systems, but also of each element individually. Our impeccable price/quality ratio has turned us into one of the market leaders.
Often, we have to integrate our elements within existing systems, which can be quite challenging. Nonetheless, this is part of our systemic approach which has allowed us to be one of the leaders in fire extinguishing control systems as well as physical defense systems.
In Soviet times, the market had several players that all knew each other. Each company had its own specifics. While we still all know each other today, we now need to be much more competitive and provide our clients with the best conditions. Winning a contract today is highly dependent on the relationship we develop with the clients.

Rosatom is the dominant entity in the Russian nuclear sector. How would you describe your relationship with them?
Rosatom is our main client with whom we work very closely. We hope to keep working with them in the future, and are now working on plans to do so during the remainder of this year. Developing this relationship further is important to us.
Further to that, we hope to increasingly develop our relations with foreign partners. Today, we are working on facilities outside of Russia, and hope to expand this footprint. In China, for instance, we are working on so-called staged construction. India, for example, is another market we have set foot in.

How do you see the future balance between your domestic and international business?
The Russian nuclear industry has always developed more intensely than in other countries. Some countries where there is strong nuclear growth may have a different opinion on this, but this is because we mainly look for growth in sectors linked to the nuclear industry. Today, our plans for future growth are mainly linked to our domestic market, even though we have plans to expand our foreign operations.

The 2011 Fukushima incident cannot be ignored when talking about nuclear safety worldwide. In your view, has this had an impact on the need –or perhaps its perception– for safety products at plant level?
Fukoshima has been a negative event of global magnitude, and I believe every single company working in nuclear safety has analyzed this event in great detail. Overall, if we look at the causes of malfunctions and man-made accidents, which took place as a result of the activity of nuclear power facilities, one must highlight two factors: technological shortcomings, and the human factor. In the framework of further large-scale development of the nuclear sector, of course much attention is attached to the development of the technologies necessary to both operate these facilities and ensure their safety. And if we cannot completely eliminate the human factor, we can definitely reduce its negative impact improving the technologies, and training the personnel, who are directly involved in taking action in case of an emergency. And allow me to finish this up with a sentence that has become an unwavering principle in the nuclear sector: “security must be more important than economy”.

The story of Tenzor is clearly one of evolution: the company has developed with the sector, as you mentioned, and continues to look for new areas of development today, while keeping a healthy price/quality ratio. From a commercial point of view, what is going to be your biggest challenge in the coming years, and how will it be addressed?
The main aim of our strategy is to focus on development, continuous improvement. According to such understanding of the company’s development we constantly work on modernization and, as already told, improvement of our products and services, as well as on introducing new types of products and services for strengthen our positions in the Russian and international markets.
This approach indicates the continuation of the local scientific traditions. Tenzor is located in the science town of Dubna, famous around the world. Our nuclear physicists have achieved great success in synthesizing new chemical elements, including the 105th, called Dubnium (Db) in honor of the town. Tenzor has strong positions in Dubna, and our target is to uphold the high status of our town in the world.

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