The world-famous steel material manufacturer of Germany “Wilhelm Geldbach GmbH” is going to operate in Azerbaijan. In early March, the company’s delegation visited Baku and got acquainted with the local market, existing conditions and opportunities, and held numerous meetings.
The history of Wilhelm Geldbach GmbH, one of Germany’s oldest and most famous industrial enterprises and steel material manufacturers, begins in 1903 with the steel material specialist Wilhelm Geldbach. The company’s first factory producing steel materials used to manufacture pipes, pipe elbows, fittings, etc. which were used in the industry. Subsequently, with the introduction of numerous technological innovations and inventions, the range of products produced by the company grew. At present, as a result of its high-quality products and business activities, “Wilhelm Geldbach GmbH” is one of the world’s most recognized manufacturers of steel materials for industrial needs. The company, which currently has a 117-year history, has been managed by the Geldbach family for the 4th generation. Individual members of the family are known for their scientific works and inventions in the field of steel materials at different times. “Wilhelm Geldbach GmbH” supplies the world’s most famous oil and gas and chemical industry companies with steel materials – flanges and fittings.
The company’s pipe connecting materials made of steel – flanges and fittings are used in oil extraction, drilling and geological exploration plants, industrial enterprises, petrochemical plants.
It should be noted that fittings are used to change the diameter and direction of pipes and to diversify pipes. Flanges (from German word “Flansch”) – used when connecting pipes to each other and other details. These details are an integral part of modern industrial enterprises and pipelines, without which it is impossible to imagine the work of such areas.
In his interview to AZERTAC, the head of the delegation, the representative of Geldbach Group on Caucasus and Central Asia Erkan Aksu gave information about Wilhelm Geldbach GmbH, its products and plans related to Azerbaijan.
– Wilhelm Geldbach with 117 years of history is part of Geldbach Group. At present, the head of our company is one of the most well-known business women in Germany and runs the company after his wife late Manfred Geld died.
Our company produces flanges and fittings, which are pipe connections used in industry, oil and gas facilities and companies. Our products are manufactured in China in accordance with German standards. In addition, we have factories in Brazil and Germany. That is, we have the capability to produce large quantities in a short time.
Our company operates all over the world – Brazil, Singapore, Dubai, Spain, Germany and Italy, and our annual production capacity is above 300 million Euros. We have more than 1200 employees working in different regions of the world.
– Mr. Aksu, in what areas are the products of Geldbach Group used?
– Let me explain to you the importance of our work and products. Imagine pipes with a length of kilometres – regardless of gas, oil, etc. – there are such pipes in Azerbaijan, too, they contain a huge amount of pressure. Let’s say that there was an injury at some point of this pipe, the pipe exploded and so on. In the traditional way this tube should be completely replaced. However, the intermediate connections that we manufacture allow to replace not the entire pipe, but only the damaged part of it. As a result, both the cost of recovery and the time spent on the removal of the accident are reduced by a hundred times. That is, we have the opportunity to solve the problem on the spot.
– How does this process take place?
– Such oil gas pipelines reach millions of meters. So, most of them need to be replaced when the accident takes place. With our devices we create a chance to shorten these pipes step by step, replacing them when required. That is, when installing the pipeline, these devices are placed every 30 meters, 50-100-150 meters, which depends on the pipe, what kind of product is transported by the pipe, etc. These devices are placed in the pipe in advance, and in case of any injury, such part of the pipe is removed and replaced with a new one. At first glance, it can be seen as a simple process, but imagine that it happened in any oil pipeline in the oil sector which is a very important area. Here, the loss of time causes great costs. In case of inactivity of the pipe thousands of Dollars are lost every second. Our products allow to eliminate the accident quickly and without losses within possibility. Admittedly, it is better to lose a pipe of 20-30 meters than 100 million Dollars.
To show how important these facilities are, it is enough to note that due to the explosion of a pipe owned by Saudi Aramco its main plant had to stop working and the company lost $ 500 billion at a night.
– What are the range of products and the materials used?
– Indeed, what makes us different is not only the prompt delivery of the product, but also the high quality. As I mentioned, our company produces flanges and fittings, which are pipe connections used in industry, oil and gas facilities and companies. We produce Carbon steel, Stainless steel, Allou steel, Low-temp steel, Duplex steel, and aluminium materials when required. We want to tell people who will work with us and use our products for information that we produce the smallest, but also very large products. That is to say, we produce flanges from 0.5 to 96 inches and 0.5-72 inches fittings.
– Most importantly, how the quality of your products is? How does the presence of your factory in China affect the quality?
– There is no need to talk about the quality and standards of the products of Geldbach Group. Any company working in this field is aware of the Geldbach quality. Our standards, our prestigious name is brand and we are a world brand in this field.
The products of our company are specific, and are used, as I said, in special fields such as oil and gas, chemical and other similar projects. Therefore, most people may be unaware of this. However, to make it simple I will give an example. You can bring, for example, Mercedes or BMW to your mind. The more qualified and reliable these brands in the automotive industry the more weight and quality the Geldbach products have in our sector. Thanks to the quality of our products, no company has the opportunity to compete with us.
– Mr. Aksu, there are many standards for these products in the world. What standards are your products manufactured based on?
– To be honest, there are many standards in the world today, among which are ASME, EN, JIS, BS, AS, GOST and others. We can produce products based on all these standards. Some standards are used more and others less. For example, most often “ASME” standard is used, while the “British Standard” (BS) is out of date and not used so widely. We manufacture products in accordance with all existing standards in the world, including them. We can even manufacture products on the basis of sketches beyond the standard, namely, we can have both custom flanges and fittings. We can develop these sketches by ourselves or manufacture products on the basis of sketches provided by our customers.
– Who are the buyers of Geldbach Group, users of your products?
– Geldbach Group cooperates with almost all leading oil and gas companies of the world, the products of the group are used in major oil and gas projects of the world. Among them are giant companies such as Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobile and Total. These companies particularly invite us to the projects implemented. We cooperate in ship production, oil and gas extraction, oil and gas pipelines, water and gas fields, in simple words, any sphere in the world that is related to the high-pressure pipes. Wherever high quality and high pressure resistant pipe is used, we are there. We work with pipes with specifications that suit every field.
– As you noted, along with the quality of products in this area, its timely delivery also plays an important role. What are the opportunities of the Geldbach Group in this area?
– We are working based on the German discipline both in the production and delivery of products. It is not just a random word. In our work, time is very important in the areas where the products we develop are used. We work with products that on which sometimes the fate and schedule of a whole project depends. Therefore, we have wide opportunities to deliver our products on time. I had given you an example of an accident in the oil pipeline. In such cases, we can deliver our products to the country quickly, if required, even by plane. Since our factory belongs to ourselves, we always have our products ready in warehouses. We have about 30 large warehouses in all over the world. These include Dubai, Brazil, Germany, China, Singapore and other countries. So there is no place in the world where it is impossible to deliver our products quickly. For example, the nearest warehouse for Azerbaijan is Dubai, where we can deliver products in a few hours.
– Now the world is experiencing a problem as coronavirus, production is decreasing, its delivery is being delayed and so on. Does this affect your work?
– As our company has warehouses all over the world, this process doesn’t hinder our work and delivery of goods. Naturally, it is impossible to say that the virus didn’t have any impact on our work as it affects the whole world. China may check the goods exported from the country more strictly but there is no issue with delivery because we have goods all over the world so this process doesn’t hinder our work.
– How many countries does Geldbach Group currently sell products to?
– To be honest, all the countries use our products. We are working in from India and China to Africa and Egypt (we have a large warehouse in Egypt), in Bangkok, Thailand and Australia, except for Iran due to the embargo. In Europe, of course, we work in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Poland, Turkey, in short, in almost all EU countries. Our work in these countries confirms the level of quality of our products. Now we have decided to enter the Azerbaijani market and are going to operate here.
– Mr. Aksu, how did Geldbach Group decide to come to Azerbaijan?
– First of all, as a large company, we are exploring all potential markets in the world. Recently, Azerbaijan has attracted our attention. Since, first of all, even though we are citizens of Germany, we are Turks and Azerbaijan is as native for us as Turkey. I constantly monitor the achievements and economic situation of your country.
Second, a while ago we heard the call of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to foreign companies, businessmen and investors to invest in Azerbaijan. We wanted to join this call, “Why not make a contribution to the development of this country?” we thought. We have also researched and learned that there is a huge market for our products in your country and we wanted to be in this market. Relying on our own quality and mastery, we thought that we could do a great job here.
– What are your plans for Azerbaijan?
– Azerbaijan has been an oil country since ancient times, where major oil projects are being implemented with major companies of the world. SOCAR, a state-owned company, is also implementing major projects in the country. Our goal is to take part in these projects in the future, if necessary, to create a large regional warehouse in Azerbaijan and if things go well, we intend to start production here.
– What meetings did you hold during your visit to Baku?
– The purpose of our current visit is to explore the market, identify areas in which and partners with which we can work. We have held numerous meetings here, and met with the head of companies, factories and plants. We have positive plans for Azerbaijan and, in particular, our views on Baku are very positive. Our integration into the Azerbaijani market will continue for a certain period of time. In general, Azerbaijan is a developing country, and the presence of a port in this country is an additional advantage for the country itself and businessmen who want to build business in the country.
We are planning to work in Azerbaijan, moving to other Turkic republics from here. As they say, this will be a centre for us and we intend to participate in oil projects of other countries. Since our company and the management decided to work here.
On the other hand, the fact that Geldbach Group starts to operate in Azerbaijan is a very positive innovation for Azerbaijan.
Since we will have brought a standard to this sphere by coming to Azerbaijan. Such quality and well-known product manufacturers come here and will work in the country. That is, we are talking not only about trade, but also about developing a production field.
– Mr. Aksu, Geldbach Group that you represent is a family company. It has been ruled by a family for 117 years. What is the reason of such a long service life? How did the company, this family, achieve this?
– You mentioned a very important issue. Look, 117 years to develop, remain a family company and become known all over the world, and so on – it is impossible to do it without high quality in Europe. I talked about “Saudi Aramco” and “Exxon”, these companies attract us to their projects especially and with exclusive privileges and want to work with our quality.
That is, all this takes place thanks to a serious approach to work and the quality of the product. Of course, the goal of commercial institutions is to generate income in the first place, but the quality for the “Geldbach Croup” is at the forefront. Some poor quality products can spoil the whole reputation of the company. Therefore, our company works with the German precision, quality and discipline. Let me just point out that the European Union has very strict standards, it is not easy to produce products by working in this space, but there is no such problem for us. Thanks to our high standards and quality, it is convenient for us to work in all parts of the world.