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Interview Home > Interview

Interview with Mr. Maksym Bielawski, chairman of the supervisory board of the Zaporizhzhia Abrasive Plant


Refwin: Would you please share the companys history of Zaporizhzhia Abrasive Plant?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: Zaporizhzhia Abrasive Plant is a company with a long history. The company was founded in 1939 and since then has been a reliable supplier of high-quality abrasive materials to customers around the world.

The production facilities of the plant are located in Zaporizhzhia in the south of Ukraine. The company's product range includes a wide range of abrasive materials, such as black silicon carbide, metallurgical silicon carbide, normal electrocorundum, boron nitride, boron carbide, as well as abrasive tools: scraping, grinding and cutting wheels of various types and sizes. More than 1250 employees oversee every detail to ensure the high quality of our products.

The company's customer base includes various industries such as automotive, aerospace, construction, metallurgical, metalworking, defense, and security. Over 170 companies trust our products, and we export to 10+ countries, including Germany, Turkey, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, USA, Spain and France.


Refwin: What are the impacts of the Russian-Ukrainian war on Zaporizhzhia Abrasive Plant's business?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: The first thing is that we have lost a labor resource. Unfortunately, six of our personnel died. These are people who were mobilized and went to defend our country from a full-scale invasion of Russia. The second aspect concerns mental health. During the first weeks of the war, we lost not only emotional but also spiritual potential because war is stress and shock from being several kilometers from the front line. But probably already on the 14th day after the invasion, we gathered our will into a fist. I was at the enterprise before the invasion. I understood that the Russian offensive would likely begin, and I was very sorry because you cannot prepare for war. Because war is all possible horrors: it is a catastrophe, it is suffering, separated families, and broken destinies of people.

Regarding the economic aspect - yes, it became somewhat more difficult for us to work, and many companies began asking whether we could provide stable supplies. And now, after two years of war, I can state the fact that there is not a single broken contract. We ensured supply stability.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal to our readers and partners with the following request: please support the state that has become the object of an attack and is experiencing aggression. Trust us. We won't disappoint our customers because we want to live and work too.


Refwin: As the only producer of grinding materials in Ukraine and one of the largest producers of abrasives in Eastern Europe, what are your main products and what are their strengths?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: The main products of our enterprise are grinding materials made of electrocorundum and silicon carbide. Our strength is quality control. We are proud that we do not have any complaints from European consumers and the domestic Ukrainian market regarding the quality of our products.

We have achieved a share of Al2O3 in electrocorundum of more than 95%, which is confirmed by the results of the Tyrolit company's research. We specifically identified one of our authoritative partners in Europe and handed over a sample of electrocorundum, and research showed that our material is of high quality.

How did we achieve these results? Of course, war is a great challenge and a departure from the comfort zone. She became our best motivator and driving force for development.

We revised the approach to the quality management system in production, switching entirely to high-quality imported bauxite from Turkey. That is, we purchase high-quality raw materials, control every operation of the complex production process, and achieve high-quality grinding materials.

Currently, we have an idea to carry out additional processing of electrocorundum before its use in the production of abrasive tools.

This will allow us to increase the stability of the cutting discs and, at the same time, increase the cutting speed. If our discs can handle 6000rpm now, we are confident that we can reach 8000rpm with a 30% increase in performance.

Regarding the quality of silicon carbide, we always adhere to high standards, producing products with a SiC share of more than 97%. We are talking about black silicon carbide. It is quite actively bought by consumers not only in the EU but also in the USA. Of course, the question is the price, but there is demand, and when there is demand, then accordingly, the quality suits our consumers.


Refwin: What have supported your companys development over the past 85 years?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: The answer is straightforward - people are the main driving force. Without their contribution, machines, mechanisms, and devices are unable to produce products. No one can control quality and invest a piece of their soul in production as effectively as our great nation of Ukrainians. We are the best housekeepers. Ukrainians know how to manage the economy successfully, and this is our strong point - to treat every business with respect, responsibility, and soul.


Refwin: Where is your main market, domestic or overseas?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: Of course, the foreign market. Approximately 85% of the exports of grinding materials are supplied to the markets of the Middle East, the European Union, and the United States of America. We have projects in the Scandinavian countries, and we are considering promising directions in the North African region. However, now everything is complicated, first, by the high price. It is uncomfortable for us to work to compete with a Chinese manufacturer, which, in our opinion, sometimes quite sharply dumps the situation on the market. The cost of the material is much higher, as the energy costs required to produce the abrasive material are only increasing. And we must compete with market instruments in this situation.


Refwin: What do you think is the biggest challenge for refractory industry currently?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: The biggest challenge is the insufficient readiness of manufacturers and technologies to change the primary raw material base. In the refractory industry, there is a new demand for high-quality materials. Still, the manufacturers of construction materials and the technologies themselves, which are used in refractory enterprises, are not yet fully ready for this, both from the cost of the final product and the point of view of supply. This may lead to a shortage of refractory products and, significantly, an increase in prices, including other related goods in adjacent markets.

The global economy has not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, and now it is necessary to provide incentives to contain the impact of new technologies on increasing prices. As a manufacturer of structural materials, we are certainly ready to adapt to the unique requirements of refractory consumers of our products. However, we need time, and I did not want the new requirements from refractory enterprises to create advantages only for a separate amount of construction materials so that there would be no prerequisites for the so-called economic conspiracy.


Refwin: We know that in the year of 2024 is the 85th anniversary of Zaporizhzhia Abrasive Plant, firstly, congratulation on your anniversary, what are your present and future plans to expand its presence in domestic and global market?


Mr. Maksym Bielawski: Our strategic plans can be divided into four key components. The first is resources. We will continue to be meticulous about the inputs we use to produce our products. The second aspect is the development of the supply and delivery infrastructure of our products. We strive for maximum efficiency and customer orientation, strengthening our service to optimize customer relationships. We strive to make working with us easy and pleasant for our long-term partners. The third is the markets. We will maintain our positions in the existing EU markets and develop the work direction in the Middle East and the African region.


The last but no less important component is the improvement of technology. We actively research and implement new technologies, such as in the production of silicon carbide. This allows us to reduce the cost of production and offer competitive prices to our customers. New technologies open opportunities to improve the quality of our products and meet all the needs of consumers.

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