Skillful Staff an Asset in Mongolia

The Finnish-owned Finpack has trained its staff in Mongolia with Finnpartnership’s support. Competence is an important asset in the country’s fast-growing packaging market.

Kristec Oy is a family business from Kirkkonummi and specialises in the sales of paper and cardboard products in Asia and Eastern Europe. The paper wholesaler’s market consists of Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, China, Russia, etc. In Mongolia, the company’s subsidiary Finpack manufactures packaging. “We established our paper and cardboard subsidiary there in 1999 together with a partner. In 2004, we bought the whole company from our partner and started to make different kinds of packaging,“ Henrik Jankes, Chairman of Kristec’s Board, explains.

Training Supported by Finnpartnership

According to Jankes, the early years of the plant in the capital Ulan Bator were not easy. It was impossible to find employees in Mongolia who had training or previous experience in package manufacture. “We had to train all our workers ourselves. In this, Finnpartnerhip’s Business Partnership Support was crucial.”

Finpack was granted Finnpartnership’s support for staff training in 2009, 2012 and 2013. “This support allowed us to bring experts from Finland who carried the necessary know-how to Mongolia and guided our employees in the manufacture of various packaging products.” Finpack’s Mongolian employees have also made visits to factories in Finland and seen various production solutions.

Company Lead by Women

Excellent leadership is the cornerstone of Finpack’s business. Henrik Jankes’s son Joachim is in charge of the technical side of the plant in Ulan Bator. The rest of the management consists of Mongolians. “All the managerial positions are filled by women. Men are good at making decisions, but women also have the industriousness and determination to see the decisions through,” Jankes says. The factory produces a large selection of products. Finpack manufactures, for example, paper bags, shopping bags and pizza boxes for fast food restaurants, as well as packages for medicine, coffee, tea and cigarettes.

In addition to package manufacture, Finpack is the largest paper wholesaler in Mongolia. The company’s customers in Mongolia are mainly small and medium-sized businesses.
“We have a strong market position in Mongolia’s growth market,” Jankes says.
Finpack’s toughest competition consists of Chinese companies, although the closest Chinese packaging manufacturers are more than 1,000 kilometres away in Hohhot in Inner Mongolia.

“Chinese manufacturers demand to be paid in advance and only make large batches, whereas we can make smaller ones in Mongolia with a quicker delivery schedule.” Jankes says that Finpack’s key asset is quality. The packages are always made out of Finnish paper and cardboard.

National Characteristics Are Important

Jankes has had experience of Mongolia over a long period and is the Consul General for the country in Finland. In his opinion, this nomad people’s characteristics are still clearly evident in Mongolians. “Tomorrow is rather far away, not to mention the day after tomorrow. Instead of persistent planning over a long period, activities there tend to focus on the short term. It’s important to take this into account also in staff training and business management.” On the other hand, Jankes has found the Mongolians eager to learn new things.

Any company operating in Mongolia also has to consider the strong family ties existing in the country. “Once, one of our employees didn’t turn up for work or even tell us about it. He came back a week later and explained that he and his extended family had been to the Gobi Desert to see his grandmother who was ill.”

Potential for Other Companies Too

Over the last few years, the Mongolian economy has boomed, especially due to the growing mining industry. Its most important exporting destination is China, which is in severe need of raw materials.
For the present, there is only a handful of Finnish companies operating in Mongolia. One of these is Outotec, which has provided the country with equipment for the mining industry, and another one is Honkarakenne, which has sold log houses there.

“There’s plenty of potential in many sectors in Mongolia.” Jankes has established the agency Fingate in Mongolia to promote import and export. Together with Finpro, it offers its services for Finnish entrepreneurs who are interested in the Mongolian market.

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