ENGINEERING DOBERSEK – Customized solutions in a spirit of partnership
Courage and a willingness to take risks, coupled with drive and know-how – these are the core values that provide the foundations for the impressive development of ENGINEERING DOBERSEK. The company founders Dr Albin Dobersek and Tatjana Dobersek put these values into practice in daily working life. This entrepreneurial couple has thus proven, contrary to prevailing theories, that embarking on a career as self-employed business partners can also be successful without copious financial resources.
Dr Dobersek, who was born in Slovenia, first studied engineering science in Ljubljana, where he also met his wife. Since 1981, the couple have been living and working in the Niederrhein.
Before his entrepreneurial activities, the engineer acquired extensive experience in plant construction at various renowned companies in the sector, for example Babcock in Krefeld. His confidence in his excellent technical expertise and his determination to venture onto new paths then led Dr Dobersek down the road of self-employment. He learned one key lesson in a seminar by the chambers of industry and commerce, where they said that a couple setting up a company had two alternatives: they could either integrate the wife into the company or get a divorce. Albin Dobersek didn’t hesitate; he chose the first and founded the company in Mönchengladbach in 1983 together with his wife Tatjana, who herself trained in business administration.
The first orders came in the form of project planning for Mannesmann, Thyssen Krupp and Babcock. Although the direction the young firm had taken was obviously right, at the beginning there was a great deal of work and responsibility but little financial leeway. There was a long way to go and many hurdles before they reached the highest discipline in plant construction – the delivery of turnkey plants. But with the necessary perseverance and a steady stream of innovative ideas, the entrepreneurs managed to gain a growing influence in the projects, including in phases such as construction or project implementation.
This positive development was fostered by the economic and political collapse in countries in Central, Eastern and South-East Europe. Dr Dobersek had recognised the signs of the times early and quickly capitalised on the potential offered by new fields of activity. The managing partner travelled to his old homeland and began with a first assignment to remove the ash from the power station Sostanj in Slovenia. Other jobs followed in the former Yugoslavia and the CIS states. Albin Dobersek´s language skills and his understanding of various different cultural lifestyles gained him additional trust from the clients, prevented misunderstandings and opened some doors that appeared to be closed. His strict policy of only employing specialised staff who also have the required qualifications and experience has been part of the company’s firm strategy ever since. Furthermore, technical solutions and products from Germany have traditionally enjoyed an excellent reputation in South-East Europe, Russia and Central Asia. Even the lack of currencies in the countries making the transition back then did not represent barriers to market entry for Dobersek. After all, the focus of his business activities was on raw materials producers and mines that sold copper, nickel and gold on the global market and were in possession of the corresponding currencies. There was an evident need for improvement in the quality of the components used and the operational processes of the production sites there – and ENGINEERING DOBERSEK saw its chance. The company has been a GmbH (limited liability company) since 1989.
The plant construction company made a name for itself quickly, in particular thanks to its unconventional and cost-efficient solutions for complex assignments. For example, in a plant in Kazakhstan, aggressive sludge appeared which required the production pumps to be changed after just 400 operating hours. After the analysis, the team at ENGINEERING DOBERSEK ascertained that apart from the components, improvements in the pump control system were possible. So after a few remodelling measures and the introduction of a control system they developed themselves, the plant construction company managed to get the pumps running for 4,000 hours, and to extract 3 percent more metal from the sludge. The 1.5 million deutschmark assignment was the first major success in central Asia, but word got round in the industry and led to other major jobs.
The development of ENGINEERING DOBERSEK GmbH continued on the path of innovation: at a Russian mine, the company deployed a special technology to re-use the waste from non-ferrous metal extraction. Cavities generated during the extraction of raw materials underground were filled with a special mixture of this waste and other materials. This prevented subsidence from occurring on the landscape. In addition, thanks to this so-called “rock filling process”, the environmentally harmful outside landfill site was no longer necessary.
Another milestone in the company’s history was the assignment it received in 2006 to build a new copper works and to modernize an existing lead works in Kazakhstan. The new copper works were finally commissioned at the end of 2011 – an 850-million-dollar project which sent out a signal to the industry worldwide.
Proximity to the customer and flexible cooperation based on mutual respect continued to be the fundamental success factors in expanding the company. Today, a network of cooperation partners with around 100 employees in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, the Ukraine and Uzbekistan supports customers, construction sites and projects locally. The headquarters of ENGINEERING DOBERSEK GmbH, where 210 staff work, is still Mönchengladbach. From here concepts are devised, plants designed and components put together, with the effect that about 90% of the equipment is purchased in Germany. ENGINEERING DOBERSEK places great value on manufacturer independence so that it can offer its customers customized solutions based on their needs. A joint venture founded in 2011 in Kazakhstan has another 260 staff.
The range of products and services offered by ENGINEERING DOBERSEK now covers five sectors: mining and metallurgy, water treatment, energy and environment technology as well as chemistry and special machine construction. Beyond the regular customer contact at the customer’s base or its construction sites, ENGINEERING DOBERSEK GmbH also regularly presents its services at trade fairs and congresses. As well as the Hannover trade fair, in 2013 the company took part in mining fairs in Russia, Kazakhstan, Serbia, and also Chile for the first time.
As an all-round provider, ENGINEERING DOBERSEK is today able to offer all the services of an international company for turnkey plant construction, from research and development, basic and detailed engineering, construction, delivery and installation to commissioning and after-sales service.
When a company has developed so successfully in this manner, it is not surprising that the office premises at the company base in Mönchengladbach have now reached their limits. But the family business has already made provisions. They have made a clear commitment to their current location and begun planning for a new building in Nordpark, not far from the Borussia Mönchengladbach stadium. Dr Dobersek, for whom Mönchengladbach is a beautiful city with many green spaces, also appreciates the excellent transport links. He can reach Düsseldorf airport from his office in just 20 minutes via the A52. That’s ideal for this well-travelled business man, for there are three flights a day to Moscow from there, and in Moscow he can change to flights to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The 62-year-old Borussia fan, who watches the Bundesliga matches even when he’s hundreds of miles away in Kazakhstan, has three children, and one son and one daughter already work for the company. The course for the future has already been set.
Engineering Dobersek GmbH
Tel. 02161 90108-0
Fax 02161 90108-20/-30
As at: August 2013