In Moldova, there are many state-owned enterprises we don't know much about. Some of them no longer exist, other are still able to work and produce despite the lack of funding, drop in sales and demand. We were pleased to visit one of the large-scale state enterprises in Chisinau “Vibropribor” to learn at first-hand about how it feels like to be a state-owned enterprise in Moldova. “Vibropribor” Chief Engineer, Mr. Valery Yakim, has kindly agreed to talk to us about that.

"In two to three months, we will make aluminum alloy products that we intend to supply to the European market."

Valery Yakim

"In two to three months, we will make aluminum alloy products that we intend to supply to the European market."

Valery Yakim

"In two to three months, we will make aluminum alloy products that we intend to supply to the European market."

Valery Yakim

In the perception of many Moldovan citizens, public sector enterprises usually have lots of problems, and little is known about their production, at least, when it comes to heavy industry SOEs in Moldova. Let us assume that most modern people do not know about the Moldovan plant "Vibropribor". Please, tell us more about your company.
"Vibropribor" is a metal processing state-owned plant in Moldova. We have also a metallurgical line of production where we produce foundry products from aluminum alloys that we’ll promote in the future. Our company is currently involved in processing of all metal types. We have a foundry for producing dies, casting forms, moulding of plastic. In fact, this is the line we are proud of. The job here is very hard, complex and requires professionalism and competence.  Abroad, one of the products discussed above, can cost up to 20,000 €. We also manufacture exceptional custom pieces. Yes, the foundry is old enough, but it allows us to produce products, which we want to market abroad. In two to three months, we will make aluminum alloy products that we intend to supply to the European market. We are the only company in the country, producing equipment and components for antihail rockets "Alazan". It is also a source of our pride.

We all remember that Moldova's separation from the USSR was quite painful for the country’s economy. For SOEs it was particularly difficult. We know that many of them have simply ceased to exist. The number of employees who worked in "Vibropribor" was 1987 – 3850, and today it is 161 – this number tells about tough times. How did your plant manage to survive?
"Vibropribor" was founded as an industrial plant for the production of radio electronic equipment and components. In Soviet times, all state-owned enterprises operated under the guidance of the state plan of production. All SOEs had government procurements and had not to search for customers and partners themselves, like we do today. That's the problem of public sector enterprises. Lack of government contracts turned out to be a big challenge for our enterprise. For that reason, the plant "Vibropribor" is no longer a specialized enterprise for the production of radio electronic equipment. From the machinery the plant was equipped with, can now only be used metal processing machines and foundry. This is the problem of our plant. At the time of Moldova's separation from the USSR, I was working at another large-scale state enterprise "Mezon", which has encountered the same problem as "Vibropribor". Of course, many of the current employees of the plant are mature workers and old-timers, but all they are highly qualified professionals: turners, millers, molders, electricians, machinery operators. The transition to market economy was not easy for them.

How things are going when it comes to the qualified specialists in Moldova’s heavy industry sector?
Very bad! There was a time I worked as a teacher at the College of Microelectronics and left it, because, to tell the truth, there was no one for me to teach. Students were coming into college poorly prepared. I tell you like it is. When it comes to the modern youth, we do not have to whom to work with at the state-owned enterprises. There is a serious lack of professional specialists in this industrial sector.

"We should unite and establish joint efforts for the development of Moldovan production and national economy."

Valery Yakim

"We should unite and establish joint efforts for the development of Moldovan production and national economy."

Valery Yakim

"We should unite and establish joint efforts for the development of Moldovan production and national economy."

Valery Yakim

But, the problem lies in the education system or it’s the absence of willingness and aptitude?
The problem is in everything. Middle school teachers poorly prepare children; high school teachers poorly prepare students. Unfortunately, there is corruption everywhere. The system is poorly organized.

How much of your production is sold domestically? And how many orders, if any, come from abroad?
10 of 100 constitute orders from foreign markets, the rest is used domestically.

What is the difference between public and private enterprise? At a point of strategy, management, opportunities, challenges faced by SOEs versus private.
I worked at a private company as a director and manager. This is a huge difference. In a state-owned enterprise it’s difficult to dismiss people based on their profession. Of course, there are very good professionals, but there are a number of office specialists the company no longer needs. A private company wins, at this respect. The thing is that at a private firm, this problem does not arise because they use employment contracts concluded for a definite period and not indefinite period contracts, as it is in SOEs. We are subordinate to the Ministry and can’t take independent, risky, new decisions without receiving approval from the authority.

Anyway, it may be some kind of a bureaucratic problem?
Yes, of course.

When it comes to Marketing, PR or advertising online, it’s clear that in Moldova, this way of company promotion – both public and private – is not popular. What is the policy or strategy of "Vibropribor" plant in this respect?
I can't tell you much on this matter, because it's not my field. But, I can say that we don’t have a PR policy and our marketing activity is very weak at "Vibropribor".

But, do you feel the need for this kind of promotion for your company?
It's all about finance. "Vibropribor" is not the budget institution; we are self-financing from the products we sell. Of course, we feel the need for marketing and young specialists with the knowledge of modern technologies, because from current "Vibropribor" employees, maybe only 15% use a computer. Others are the old-timers, who have not learned these things, because there was no such kind of activities at that time. We do have specialists, but not in this area, unfortunately.

What is your attitude to domestic production? Do you trust the quality of Moldovan products?
Yes, of course, especially food. Unfortunately, Moldova's domestic production sectors are weak and most of the local market is flooded with foreign products. But I am an ardent supporter of domestic foods and support the consumption of products made in Moldova.

What would you like to wish the readers and users of MadeinMD?
I would like to wish the readers to support local producers, as they really need it. If we do not support each other, no one else will. We should unite and establish joint efforts for the development of Moldovan production and national economy.