“Successful business formula” from Alexander Timofeev

Published on 18 July 2012

“Reliability and longevity are two words that have more and more value in people’s lives today. Superhard alloys of tungsten and cobalt allow people to drive without fear of brakes failing, and walk up an airplane ramp without grabbing for Validol.


Satellites in space and oil rigs will have fewer breakdowns. A new era in machine building has begun with the appearance of cutting tools from cubic nitride boron, and Alexander Timofeev has succeeded in bringing a scientific discovery into production. Now he earns well-deserved profits, and selects managers for his company from the country’s best business schools.

A new epoch in machine building began with the appearance of cutting instruments made of cubic boron nitride. Alexander Timofeev succeeded in bringing a scientific discovery into production. Now he earns well-deserved profits, and selects managers for his company from the country’s best business schools. One couldn’t have a tighter schedule. Our interview took place during breaks from meetings.

Alexander, they say that your new product not only helps make improvements, to simplify manufacturing, but even raise it to a qualitatively new level. What is unique about it?

- The evolution of machine building was always linked to advancements in the quality of materials used and, accordingly, with the processing of those materials – from the Stone Age to the Iron Age. I mean everything depended on that principle. The evolution of materials for instruments has been exactly the same. For a long time this meant steel of a certain alloy. Then tungsten-based materials and ceramic cutting tools appeared. And on our topic, there’s been a world trend over the last 15 years with an increased share of cubic boron nitride use as a starting point for producing high productivity instruments.

Has anybody tried to steal your idea?

- They’ve tried. We had visitors from Korea and China. They tried with varied degrees of persistence. But, in the first place, our idea is quite complex. It doesn’t consist of one single thing, but a lot of know-how and elements. Secondly, you can’t reverse engineer one of our finished pieces. We see what’s happening in China because, 4 years after we began shipping our products there, they marketed a composite material that duplicated the chemical makeup of our material literally to a fraction of a percent. Nevertheless, since they couldn’t reproduce our production technology they couldn’t duplicate the characteristics of our instrument.

Is it so complicated to do business in Russia? How often do you experience obstacles?

- Infrastructure, for sure, is one of the fundamental obstacles in Russia. Administrative problems aside, just some things about the infrastructure, in general, make things difficult. For instance, our courier services don’t work. You can send a spare part via DHL from anywhere in the world, but not from Russia.I mean, it takes 2 months for Customs clearance. But I’m generally a patriot of Russia despite being born in Riga. Strictly speaking, I am a citizen of the EU. I live in Moscow, and put all of my efforts into developing Russian companies.

Have you already worked out your own business model? What’s the essence of business?

- Successful business is not possible, generally, without innovations. This can be a means for cutting expenses, organizing labor, or introducing a new product. For sure, innovations are not just engineering solutions, but in general something new that makes it possible to achieve results more efficiently. Therefore, business, yes specifically business, is impossible without innovations, otherwise it’s just office work.