People and cheese: how the crisis helped to create dairy Empire

Under the heading “the Book” RBC introduces readers to new non-fiction books, published in Russia and the world by publishing selected editorial excerpts from them. This article is an excerpt from the book by Boris Alexandrov “Cheese. The story of my life and business” which was published in the publishing house “Mann, Ivanov and Ferber”.

A colander and mixer

With the growth of sales of [dairy products] we began to think about our own production. I figured if the cottage cheese as the base product to further processing, it is possible to earn more. The market was good curd, and decided to start, since the production is simple: you need to mix curd, butter, raisins and sugar.

With Valentina Alekseevna [future Director of the Moscow factory of dairy products] we went to her sister Galina Alekseevna Makarova, who worked as a sister-mistress of the kindergarten and possessed great culinary skills. She confirmed that to make cottage cheese at home is easy.

The first time Galina had used a little pound mixer. The mass was great — even better than that sold in the market. Further — more. We bought a 30-pound mixer made in Italy, and I brought him home to Galina alekseevne. The only place where was possible to place a noisy mixer, turned out to be a bedroom. Took everything out of the bedroom, knocked down a wooden pallet, to reduce the sound and vibration, and put it on the mixer.

Galina Alekseevna daily made one hundred pounds of curd were made pre-packaged noodle and it in ordinary plastic bags. She brought raw materials and took away finished market weight. Raw materials stored on the balcony. Raisins Galina Alekseevna were washed in the bathtub using a huge colander.

Buyers curd really liked, its called “state farm”. People found out what time delivery, and lined up. Soon the demand exceeded the supply, and we began to discuss how to increase production. On the mixer to do no longer worked. As the business grew, Valentina has ceased to cope with account management and asked to keep accounts other his sister, who worked as a teacher of mathematics. Then the teachers were paid little, and Marina A. Reznikov began to earn money we have. Still it is one of the most valuable of our employees, member of the Board of Directors.

In April 1997, through a friend I found a place: the former canteen of the Medical centre of civil aviation. The catering Department at thatduring functioned very poorly. I agreed to rent the room size of 50 square meters. If the house mixer is occupied almost half of the bedrooms in the new building it seemed like a matchbox. In the kitchen stood some old hardware, and we get used to make the mass in the mixer. Each batch had a volume of 100 pounds, it took just two hours: wash the raw material, add the ingredients in the tub, knead and package them.

We could sell 200 pounds of curds every day, but already knew that the development should not stop. Carefully analyzed, what else to put on stream, what is generally demanded by the customers. Over time, the curds were Packed not only in plastic bags, but in cups.

Cheese and knitting needles

Valentina once said that of cheese products on the market are good cheese coated. While in Moscow they only did the Gorky plant, near three stations. Also cheeses imported from Belarus and the Baltic States. For cheese curds, when they were brought to the market, always there were queues.

We realized that the cheese for people even more attractive than the curd. It turned out they are substitute products. If the market sold cheeses, the people preferred their curd mass. If the cheese was missing, consumers were content with curd mass.

The idea was to get to the Gorky plant and see how they manufacture cheese. Anton Yuryevich Izacic [the son of the partner of Boris Alexandrov] found people who had access there, dressed as a mechanic, agreed with some drunk, and missed it at the factory.

Made with professional equipment — technically complex, the line was worth about a hundred thousand dollars. Then we couldn’t afford to just buy the line and check go or no go business. The technology of cheese production, no one knew the equipment was not available, only thought and desire. But, thank God, I managed to get the recipe 30-ies, when the cheese was still done manually, and technical specifications for this product. In the cheese curd three main components: the cheese, sugar and butter. For familiar from childhood taste still need vanilla. And the taste of childhood, the taste of happiness will never be forgotten. We are faced with the challenge to recreate it in our cheese.

Anton Y. made a wooden form filled with simple straps the following poster-sized cheese curd across the width and height, and we filled it cheese weight. Then put it in the fridge, taken out, and to dig it out does not work. So the weight does not stick, has decided to build its cellophane. Then the cheese rectangles of steel normally be removed from the mold. We bought chocolate, melted in a water bath and got some kind of chocolate glaze. But as the cheese evenly pour the chocolate? Took a fork, bent the prongs, stuck in a cheese stick and dipped in chocolate. It feels good, but along with the plug from the bottom of the cheese began to otdelatsya and chocolate.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Tried to use thinner teeth: took a metal circle, strung on a thin fishing line, made pens, in the basin melted chocolate, put cheese sticks on the thing, dropped in the pelvis and lifted. Ur all beautiful: the cheese was covered with a uniform layer of chocolate. But the bottom is coming off again. Because Galina Alekseevna knew how to knit, she had a thought: if the cheese rectangle to put on the needle and dip it in the Cup, the chocolate is uniformly distributed, and the needle can always be removed. Went to the store, bought regular knitting needles to knit socks.

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It came to the certification of products manufactured in this manual by the way. We did 36 of the bars and put them in the fridge, the next day to pack and take for certification. Morning Galina Alekseevna came to work, opened the fridge and was shocked: cheese was not there. Later found that the production before the others came in support and just ate all the cheese. 36 pieces! Nobody understood how you can eat such a quantity! Galina Alekseevna nearly killed him. But we got an encouraging sign: it is unlikely to really handle that kind of cheese, if they taste good. Nicknamed the Cheese clung to the guy, but after the case of cheese it is no longer used.

We have successfully passed the certification and have started to produce cheese, packing in boxes and take them to sale with container on the South-Western market. First took two boxes of 60 bars, then three, four, five… production Volumes grew, we recruited new people, organized the second shift. By the end of the year we produced 60 thousand curds a day! We still don’t fully understand how it was possible to do such a number is so labor-intensive way.

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Startup camp

We began to win more space in a rented kitchen. If we went in a room measuring 50 square meters, then two years later took the production of all three floors, produced sour cream, cottage cheese, curds, cottage cheese and other products. Director of the Moscow factory has appointed Valentina Alekseevna. The development was so fast that we purchased a new line of glazed curd cakes. The leased premises lacked. I wanted to find a building that no one could depend and be able to expand production.

The market is demanding product but we were not allowed power. Nelly Evelina Khrapunov [commercial Director] on the channels I found an abandoned pioneer camp. By 1999 he was already nine years did not function and was in poor condition. I had to work hard to move back production. We literally lived at the plant for nine months, restoring the first building, which formerly housed the canteen of the camp.

The move took place in early 2000. Of Tushin brought six lines curds and four lines bought are already in the field. By the time we reached a million cheeses a day. We were very lucky: we entered the market during the deficit and pits formed due to a sharp fall of the ruble and rapid rise of cheese imported from abroad. This opportunity we began to use first.

The point of view of the authors, whose article published in the “Opinions” section, may not coincide with editorial opinion.