The Business Year

Raoul Waldburger

AZERBAIJAN - Real Estate & Construction

Solid Base

CEO, Holcim Azerbaijan

Bio

What is the history of Holcim Azerbaijan? The Garadagh Cement Plant was established according to a decree by the USSR Council of Ministers in 1949. It was the largest enterprise […]

What is the history of Holcim Azerbaijan?

The Garadagh Cement Plant was established according to a decree by the USSR Council of Ministers in 1949. It was the largest enterprise in the Caucasus countries in terms of cement production capacity. Starting with two wet kiln lines, it increased to four lines very quickly. In 1999, Holcim entered Azerbaijan through the privatization of Garadagh Cement shares. New management and technology-enhanced plant performance meant that production volumes reached 900,000 tons in 2003 and 1.3 million tons in 2005. Holcim Azerbaijan received a privatization certificate based on the government’s requirements in 2007. Today, Holcim is the majority shareholder with a 70% stake. Azerbaijan Investment Company (AIC) and EBRD hold 10% each and the other minority shareholders comprise the remaining 10%. In 2008, Holcim’s Board of Directors approved a modernization project for the plant in Azerbaijan. Even though it was during a period of global financial crisis, Holcim successfully invested ‚¬330 million. Holcim replaced the old wet kiln with a single, new, state-of-the-art dry kiln line. At the time, it was the largest investment in the non-oil sector of Azerbaijan. The implementation of advanced technology increases cement production capacity, lowers the impact on the environment, decreases gas and dust emissions, and creates an opportunity to use alternative fuel resources for a sustainable production cycle. In April 2009, we organized a groundbreaking ceremony for the new dry kiln line, which was opened in July 2012.

What strategies led to the decision for Garadagh Cement to be rebranded as Holcim Azerbaijan?

We had long considered Holcim the main shareholder of Garadagh Cement. The decision to rebrand was made for various reasons. In 2012, Holcim completed the reconstruction of a new plant with the capacity to produce 1.7 million tons of cement. The modernized state-of-the-art kiln raised standards and quality. We became part of the Holcim Group and fully responded to international standards by establishing quality and sustainable development principles. The name of Garadagh is a geographic location, and this name is still used in product brands of Holcim Azerbaijan, such as Garadagh Optimal, Garadagh Special, Garadagh Expert, Garadagh Spring, and Garadagh Solid. Currently, in Azerbaijan, the Holcim brand effectively contributes to the high-quality, sustainable development of the local construction industry.

As the largest cement manufacturer in Azerbaijan, who are your main clients and what market are you targeting?

Holcim Azerbaijan is the leading company with high-quality products in the local cement market and technical solution support. Holcim Azerbaijan is the preferred cement supplier for professional customers involved in construction projects initiated and supported by the government as well as by private investors. Holcim is stimulating and strengthening the interest of its customers through high-quality products and compliance mechanisms, testing and certification programs carried out at local and international laboratories, and on-time logistics services. We are a partner of our customers throughout entire construction projects, from tendering and engineering to building and post-construction. We work together with our customers to devise mixed designs and generate optimum value and performance. Each customer plays a significant role and contributes to the Holcim Azerbaijan business model.

What are some of the activities of the Holcim Foundation with regard to sustainable development?

We have 100 years of experience in this region, and we were the first company to introduce modern technology and high-performance standards toward sustainable development and sustainable construction. We always go beyond our core business. The Holcim Foundation works closely with diverse stakeholders, including academics and experts, to continuously create innovative approaches for sustainable development. Sustainable construction aims to meet present-day needs for housing, working environments, and infrastructure, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It incorporates elements of economic efficiency, environmental performance, and social responsibility, and contributes to the greatest extent when architectural quality, technical innovation, and transferability are included. We select and support initiatives that combine sustainable construction solutions with architectural excellence and an enhanced quality of life, beyond simple technical solutions. An emphasis is put on progress, people, the planet, prosperity, and proficiency.

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