Work is currently underway at a construction site on the Odesa highway just beyond Kyiv’s southern city limits that will soon become the new flagship Ukrainian HQ of German cleaning technology giant Kaercher. Expected to be unveiled in the first quarter of 2022, the complex will feature state-of-the-art office space along with a Kaercher Academy, Ukraine’s largest Kaercher Center, and dedicated areas offering equipment servicing and showcasing the brand’s trademark car cleaning options.
This Office and Competence Center project is the latest stage in the expansion of the Kaercher brand in Ukraine, with the significant investment involved reflecting the German mother company’s faith in its Ukrainian subsidiary. This confidence it perhaps not surprising. Kaercher Ukraine has posted double-digit sales growth for each of the past five years, and was recognized in 2018 as the number one Kaercher subsidiary globally.
Kaercher Ukraine Managing Director Ivan Bechko has been with the company for thirteen years and has held his present position since 2016. He says the current work underway to build a new HQ reflects the German brand’s ambitious growth expectations for the Ukrainian market. Plans for the new facility offer an optimistic vision of where Kaercher Ukraine hopes to be in the next decade or so. The top floor of the four-story, five thousand square meter Kyiv region complex will initially remain unoccupied in order to accommodate envisioned annual staff increases of around 10% to 15%. “I am convinced that within five or six years, we will already be using the top floor of the new office space,” explains Bechko.
He also expects colleagues from countries throughout the Kaercher international network to visit Ukraine in the coming years in order to participate in training opportunities at the planned Kaercher Academy. As a brand that relies heavily on its reputation for innovation, Kaercher places great emphasis on regular staff training in the latest cleaning technologies. With its state-of-the-art new facility, Ukraine will soon be well-placed to take on a leadership role as a training hub.
The Kyiv region Kaercher Academy will feature a wide selection of floors and surfaces for training purposes encompassing the full spectrum of Kaercher equipment focuses, from industrial and professional to home and garden. Bechko is enthusiastic about this training role and is looking forward to welcoming colleagues from around the world. “Here in Ukraine, we have plenty of useful experience to share with them,” he notes.
The plans for the new HQ outside Kyiv have been developed by Ukrainian architects and designers working to German standards in line with the Kaercher brand book. In keeping with Kaercher corporate policy, a key feature of the design is attention to ecological issues. The coming Office and Competence Center will include a range of innovative eco-friendly features such as solar power paneling.
Given the centrality of water to many of the company’s most popular cleaning technologies, special care has also been taken to maximize the preservation of local water resources and minimize any potential impact on the surrounding environment. “We will install large storage tanks and collect rainwater for use in the Kaercher Academy and other aspects of the facility,” says Bechko. “The most up-to-date technologies will be used to clean and process the water we use for everyday purposes along with any water required for training and demonstration purposes.”
Bechko is confident that the new facility will have a significant positive impact on the local community of nearby Kyiv region village Hatne. Construction of the complex is already creating new work places for local residents. Once operational, the complex will also generate considerable additional tax revenues for local budgets while potentially bringing extra customers to local businesses.
Hatne residents can also expect to see Kaercher active locally with efforts to improve the environment. This is part of a corporate strategy that has seen Kaercher contributing to cleaning initiatives across Ukraine for a number of years. One particularly striking aspect of this approach involves Kaercher teams using the company’s equipment to engage in clean-ups of public spaces and prominent landmarks. Of course, this has the added benefit of showcasing the quality of Kaercher’s cleaning technologies to Ukrainian audiences and municipal authorities, who often subsequently become clients.
One particularly memorable example of this approach was the cleaning of Odesa’s iconic Potemkin Stairs. Kaercher teams cleaned half of the famous landmark staircase in Ukraine’s largest Black Sea port city and left the results on display for a number of days before proceeding to finish the job. Other prominent locations to receive a Kaercher cleaning include Lviv’s centrally located Shevchenko Monument and Shevchenko Park in the Ukrainian capital.
The forthcoming Office and Competence Center on the southern fringes of Kyiv will serve as the new flagship for the Kaercher brand in Ukraine and will complement a network of 13 existing Kaercher Centers in most of Ukraine’s largest cities. These Kaercher Centers serve as regional hubs where customers can test, purchase, and maintain equipment.
Kaercher has yet to establish a direct production presence in Ukraine, but Bechko does not rule anything out. The German-based brand already partners with a number of Ukrainian companies to offer locally-manufactured elements such as steel frames and tubing along with Ukrainian-produced detergents. “At present, there is no Kaercher manufacturing in Ukraine, but who knows what could happen in the future if Ukraine continues to make progress. Everything is possible,” comments Bechko.
The steady expansion of Kaercher Ukraine over the past five years despite the challenging economic environment in the country certainly suggests that there is good reason to embrace an ambitious outlook. The arrival of an innovative new HQ in early 2022 will be a major milestone in the company’s Ukrainian expansion, but Bechko is already looking beyond this immediate objective. “We believe in Ukraine and in the further positive development of the Ukrainian market,” he notes. “This is the reason why we have decided to invest in a major new facility with a view to additional growth over the coming fifteen to twenty years.”
About the interviewee: Ivan Bechko is the Managing Director of Kaercher Ukraine