In the latest installment of our Meet The Team series, we sat down (virtually) with Managing Director, Nik Goncharov to discuss the challenges APECS faced coming into the UK market and how he sees the company growing this year.
Hi Nik, how is your day going?
It's not a usual day at work, as I'm stuck in isolation, but thankfully we have all the necessary systems in place to allow for remote operations.
When did you join APECS?
I started my journey with APECS in 2013, when I joined APECS HQ in Moscow as a warehouse employee.
What do you do at APECS?
I went through a number of departments while working in Russia (warehousing, management, sales and the marketing department).
After moving to the UK to head up APECS UK in mid-2015, I started to put together a UK team to penetrate the UK market. Initially I was involved in all aspects of the business- product, marketing, business development, sales, accounting, logistics etc, but now I mainly deal with product development, large accounts/partnerships and strategy.
APECS is a family run business, can you tell us a little bit about the history of APECS and how it all got started and has grown over the years?
Of course. It was my family that started it back in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR. The Russian home security market was in a dreadful state of affairs and therefore it was virtually non existent. In short, we started manufacturing to cater for the Russian market and started introducing standards, testing and industry requirements.
In 2000 we opened our own operation in China that deals with everything in the Far East, allowing us to have full control of all the processes. Following this, in 2004 we opened our own factory to have control over the whole production process (it has the latest industry laboratory and testing house within it). This allows our engineers to modify the products according to the specification of the market we are producing for.
After outgrowing the Russian and CIS counties, that was when we decided to enter the European market with Ljubljana & London offices.
Why do you think having a family run business is important and how has this helped APECS grow?
I believe that in our industry a personal approach is the key. We care about what we do and what products we offer to the market. We don't have to impress our board of directors, hence all the decisions we make are purely based on the benefit for the business and its organic growth. We position ourselves around providing the best service for our customers or the customers of our partner. The quality of our products is our pride and the best selling point of APECS.
Did the UK market present any new challenges compared to the Russian market?
Yes, huge challenges. I never expected it to be so difficult. The market is very conservative and it proved to be a challenge to bring an unknown brand into an already very saturated market. We worked very hard to increase our brand awareness and prove our quality to companies. These companies have now become our customers and partners and people appreciate that we aren't just another Chinese manufacturer.
In addition the certification and testing was another challenge as it's completely different to what we were used to in other markets. Therefore our engineers both in the UK and China had to work around the clock, to first of all familiarise themselves with the requirements and then to implement it into production.
What is something you are particularly proud of from your time with APECS?
My biggest pride is the team that we have on the ground here in the UK and of course the supporting colleagues in other offices around the globe.
The UK team have proven themselves to be able to work under pressure, multitasking and to be able to react quickly and efficiently to any force majeure situations- Coronavirus not being an exception!
How do you see the company growing in 2020?
2020 is the year where we will really hit the UK market hard. Even though the start of the year has been challenging with Coronavirus affecting production in China and then spreading around the globe, I strongly believe that everything we have done prior to this time- preparing the products, organising the processes, increasing sales capabilities, expanding our marketing support, building a new distribution hub in the UK and setting everything up- these challenges will not stop us from the big launch.
In addition we are a very young and energetic team that is always ready to adapt to an ever quickly changing market. This gives us the ability to quickly diversify and change strategy when needed.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
One more thing I wanted to say is a big thank you to all the customers, clients and partners who took a chance on us, never stopped believing and gave us the support to grow within the UK market. Here at APECS we know that together we will be able to achieve great things and offer the best products and services on the market.
"Working with APECS has been great. They are both friendly and professional to deal with and all of the products we have used have been of the highest quality."