In this article, Konstantin Kuznetsov, General Director of HydroCube, tells about the process of the company establishment, reveals who is behind it, and shares their ambitious plans.
"We are used to the fact that the country usually relies on large enterprises, most of which were created and supported by the state. But the reality is rapidly dispelling this stereotype thanks to the personal activity of young leaders who can think and "play" independently. Currently, they successfully develop the sector of the economy, implement ambitious projects, and actually have opened a new page in the history of the domestic industry.
80 thousand rubles
With this ridiculous sum, the bright story of the HydroCube company specializing in the design and manufacture of non-standard hydraulic equipment began.
Only the wife of one of the founders of the future enterprise managed to get this loan. And the founders' contribution to the common cause was the totality of their life, production and entrepreneurial experience along with business acumen, desire to make a statement and willingness to take risks for the sake of future results. They have more than enough of these qualities.
DK: Konstantin Vyacheslavovich (K. V. Kuznetsov, General Director of OOO NPP HydroCube), what day is considered to be the birth date of the company?
K.: It's hard to say. In March 2015, I incorporated a company to deal with a completely different [from hydraulics] direction, but it did not work out, and for a year it existed only on paper. In May 2016, my close relative, a good engineer and future co-founder, Dmitry Stepanov, suggested taking up hydraulics; he had some experience in the manufacture of hydraulic equipment as well as knowledge of market conditions. I thought about it and then supported his idea.
Basically, it all started with the search for money to launch the project. When the bank rejected our loan application, Dmitry's wife said, "So, it wasn't meant to be." And I replied, "Fate sometimes creates obstacles that we must overcome." In short, I decided to go all the way.
DK: And what were your first practical steps?
K.: Before this story, I'd had a long and fairly successful sales career, selling different things, from office supplies to special equipment, so I had an idea of the main business processes. Having decided to try to conduct a business, I began by ordering the development of the future company website and paid 10 thousand rubles for this. I think you understand what result would be expected with such a price. But the site, on which we launched an advertising campaign at the end of May, made a difference. The first order came from Yakutia as early as June. And then the second one was from the Irkutsk region.
DK: Who manufactured the equipment? Where and how it was implemented?
K.: Me and Dmitry Stepanov. In the countryside, in a home garage. It took some doing, but the orders were completed on time. The customers were satisfied and then paid us, and we paid the bank. In the fall of 2016, we attracted another partner and investor, Dmitry Rogalev. He invested in the business, we bought our first machines, materials and hired a turner. The turner and some external contractors worked on the next orders.
At that time, I was both studying at university (ISTU) and dealing with the production organization. There, at the university, I met Ilnur Shaidullin, who started as a locksmith and grew up to be a technical director. Dmitry Stepanov took the post of chief designer, and Dmitry Rogalev became a commercial director. That's where it all started.
Quality lies in the details
In 2016, the company sold hydraulic equipment (excluding VAT) for 1.7 million rubles, in 2017 — for 10.9 million, in 2018 — for 28.9 million, in 2019 – for 35.1 million, and 2020 — for 63 million. Could you name another industrial enterprise in the republic that annually doubles sales on average, even though the Russian market is full of similar offers?
DK: Are these results a sort of luck?
K.: In the business we do, luck is an extremely rare thing. I think we were lucky only once — with the first orders. And then everything depended on the correct organization of production, the qualification of specialists, equipment, the level of design and technological solutions. However, the most important thing is still the quality of the products.
DK: Your company's advertising slogan is "Quality lies in the details". What do you put into it?
K.: In the beginning, we decided that our products must be the most reliable (their service life is significantly higher than the average), ergonomic and safe in the use. And the second point, no less important. The qualities I have just mentioned can only be discovered and appreciated over time, during and after the operation. But you need to sell it here and now. Therefore, we are extremely attentive to the appearance of our products: welds should always be smooth, the connections — reliable, and the painting — perfect. We are lucky to have among us Ilnur Shaidullin and Dmitry Skobelev, the head of the production, with their adherence to principles and perfectionism in terms of quality. Sometimes, due to such meticulousness, we delay shipment, but our customers always receive a quality product.
DK: Non-standard equipment is about many worries and a kind of "headache", isn't it?
K.: Right. To manufacture non-standard equipment, you need to have professional and dedicated technologists in the design department. And certainly, the development of design documentation adds to the problems. But all this can also be seen as our advantage — we create exactly what our customers need. High quality and exclusivity give the desired effect — our customers never leave us after partnering with us for the first time. You say, " headache", but I can say otherwise — for us, bespoke equipment is a new challenge, new experience, new knowledge and opportunities.
DK: Who are your customers?
K.: This is mainly the real sector of the economy — metallurgists, machine builders, paper manufacturers, woodworking enterprises. Less often — chain stores that need non-standard lifts. As they say in English-speaking countries, "B2B" — "business for business".
"I want to create an empire"
Having visited the company, having talked with its managers, and having watched the creative commercials of OOO NPP HydroCube, focused on the world standards of visual advertising, we can confidently say that the "imperial" plans of Konstantin Kuznetsov and his team are not only words but also real deeds. And their ambition comes not from immaturity, but from the awareness of their strengths and the almost unlimited prospects that open up.
DK: The creation of an empire involves expanding the spheres of presence and influence. How are you doing with this?
K.: We are working in this direction. Today, our equipment is operated at Russian enterprises from Nakhodka and Anadyr to Vyborg and Crimea. We've recently entered Kazakhstan and Armenia. And in 2020, we made our first deliveries to the United States and Portugal. Now we have hired an export manager and are starting to enter these markets purposefully.
DK: Do you have enough strength?
K.: We are amassing. In 2020, we expanded our production facilities more than twice, doubled the number of employees to 60, made equipment upgrade, and received a targeted grant from Innovation Promotion Foundation of 10 million rubles for winning the "Commercialization" competition. The company's image and recognition were positively influenced by our 2nd place in the export accelerator in Udmurtia, as well as participation in the final of the regional stage of the Business Success Award and being a part of the innovative engineering cluster of the republic. We are very much counting on the opportunities of the collective account of Udmurt manufacturers on the Alibaba marketplace that have opened up for us recently.
The results of the ADIPEC International Oil and Gas Exhibition, which traditionally brings together industrial companies and major players in the global oil and gas market, are also encouraging. Representatives of the TimeElectro company (UAE), which is one of the leading companies in this country, and Total – the world's fourth-largest oil and gas producer, have been interested in our products. We are currently engaged in a dialogue with them about the forms, terms and scope of cooperation.
DK: It is very difficult to enter new markets without outside support.
K.: Why "without"? All that I have just listed is the result of our participation in national and federal projects that are aimed to support small and medium businesses. And the results are really tangible. Besides, as a part of the "Commercialization" competition, Andrey Mikitas, Deputy General Director of the Federal Innovation Promotion Foundation, and Polina Pavlova, the Foundation representative in Udmurtia, paid a visit to our company. They got the most positive impressions, and we hope to continue our cooperation with this credible organization. Various educational and training projects that have developed in the republic also help us. For example, the training in the Regional Competence Center connected with improving labour productivity was very useful. It was conducted in the form of games, and this allowed us to immediately put the acquired knowledge into practice.
DK: Is the company's multilingual website also a part of the plan to build an empire?
K.: The website, commercials, and calendars with augmented reality technologies — all serve the same purpose — to attract the attention of not only domestic but also global customers to the company. Mostly "advanced" ones, who are fluent in digital technologies, appreciate individual style, non-standard design solutions and ... light humour.
DK: We have discussed the work. And how do you and your employees spend your free time when together?
K.: We try to have a rest with health benefits. We go skiing to Nechkino or work out in the sports club "Platforma", and in 2020 we created our own HydroCube hockey team and showed up in the Night Hockey League.
DC: We wish Konstantin Kuznetsov and his team the implementation of all their plans. And you, dear readers, are strongly recommended to visit the website of HydroCube and get acquainted with the calendars and video ads of this largely unusual and audaciously bold enterprise. We promise you won't regret it".
The author of the article: Viktor Chulkov