MOLDAVIAN ENGINEER SHARES VIEWS ON MAKING APPLIANCES AT
HOME AND IN U.S.
GEA in Louisville recently sponsored a six-week visit by Alexandru Tarlajanu, an engineer from the Republic of Moldova in Central Europe. Tarlajanu, who has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and works for a Moldavian appliance-maker, was in the U.S. as part of a program aimed at helping fledgling businesses in the former Soviet Union learn the skills they’ll need to survive in the global marketplace. GEA Today recently spoke with Tarlajanu about his time in Louisville. Rob Robinson, human resource manager and Tarlajanu’s host during his visit, noted that, “Alexandru has been very focused on learning all he can about quality products and processes.”
GEA Today: Alexandru, tell us about your background.
Alexandru: I am from the Republic of Moldova, a new, independent state in Central Europe founded after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. I work for a Moldavian Russian joint venture called ELECTROMASINA, where I’m the quality director. ELECTROMASINA manufactures washers and dryers, both singly and in combination.
GEA Today: How did you come to spend time with GEA in Louisville?
Alexandru: In Moldova, we have an organization called the Agency for Private Business Restructuring, which is helping businesses make the transition from a state-planned economy to a free market. The agency works with Western organizations, such as the World Bank, to obtain the managerial skills and financing to succeed in private business.
Alexandru Tarlajanu, an engineer from the Republic of Moldova in Central Europe, recently completed a six-week visit at GEA as part of a Soviet Union learn global skills program.
One of these organizations, the Center for Economic Initiatives in Cincinnati, arranged for me to spend time with GEA in Louisville.
GEA Today: What is the appliance industry like in Moldova?
Alexandru: ELECTROMASINA is the only appliance maker in Moldova. We produce about 4,000 washers and dryers per month. Our semiautomatic washer is priced at about $80. It’s well-suited for the Russian market, taking into account consumer purchasing power and the dimensions of a typical home.
GEA Today: What is the biggest difference you see between your company and American appliance-makers such as GEA?
Alexandru: In my opinion, the biggest difference is in the approach to business. In Moldova, we are production oriented. We’re only beginning to view appliances from a marketing perspective, which is more like the way American companies do business.
GEA Today: What special challenges does your company face in building and marketing appliances in your part of the world?
Alexandru: Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian market has been unstable. And, Moldova is a small, mostly agricultural nation. So, our challenge is to overcome this situation and survive. If we can improve the quality of our products, we may be able to compete in some Western European markets, which are more stable than Russia’s.
GEA Today: How have you spent your time while you’ve been in Louisville?
Alexandru: I’ve met with top- and middle- management, studied Six Sigma and team management programs, and participated in project audits led by Quality Systems Operations. I’ve also spent time in Finance, Purchasing and Sales and toured AP1 and AP5.
GEA Today: What are the three most important things you’ve learned during your stay?
Alexandru: The three most important things are the need for quality, teamwork, and a consumer-oriented business philosophy.
GEA Today: What do you think of Six Sigma?
Alexandru: Six Sigma seems to be a very efficient tool for problem solving and continuous quality improvement. I especially like the emphasis on measurement, which removes some of the subjectivity from decision-making.
GEA Today: How will you apply what you’ve seen to your company’s products and processes?
Alexandru: I hope to establish two business teams, one in engineering and one in quality assurance. These teams can help teach our employees about the importance of quality. Quality is the key to making us more competitive.
GEA Today: Would you like to return to the United States to learn more about American appliance-makers?
Alexandru: Yes. We have a lot of questions, a lot of problems. It would be helpful to continue my learning experience in the U.S.
GEA Today: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Alexandru: I’m very thankful to Rob Robinson and the management of GEA for giving me this opportunity. The people here have been very helpful and friendly.