Core values aren’t exactly a “new” fad in business. But do those business’ actually live them?
At Edelfex, a Buenos Aires based Heat Exchangers and Fluid Handling Equipment Manufacturer, CEO and founder Miguel Harutinunian would say yes. “Culture is important to us. It’s about communicating with customers and stake holders in a way that is consistent across the board.” In fact, to Miguel, core values were so important that it took Edelfex eight grueling months where each employee collaborated to create their core values (by the way, there are 55 employees in total. That’s a lot of collaboration!). “We created our core values as a team,” affirms Miguel.
To Miguel, maintaining core values starts with the hiring process. If you can hire people based on core values, it takes care of 80% of deviations,” says Miguel. “I’m always the last person to interview a new hire. It doesn’t matter if he’s an engineer or a secretary, it’s extremely important for the health of our organization that we hire an individual that fits our culture,” says Miguel. “For us you either pass or you don’t pass our core values. There’s no gray area.” Edelfex takes pride in recognizing employees (both by managers and their peers) that practice the core values through prizes or by receiving a shout out on their monthly News Exchangers (haha think heat exchange industry) – Edelfex’s internal magazine. Finally, if an employee isn’t fitting the Edelfex core values and culture, they’re let go.
Edelfex started 11 years ago when Miguel quit his job at German multinational GEA, and with their blessing, started the company. Miguel came over to Argentina from Armenia with 900USD in his pocket, and a newly minted degree in Dairy Engineering to escape the economic turbidity of post USSR Armenia. In Armenia, “Despite our independence, we were more dependent on the goodwill of fellow countries than ever before.” After working for two years at a few odd end jobs and failing to start a fruit and vegetable tienda (small shop), Miguel finally received his working papers and managed to snag a job at the multinational German firm, GEA.
Edelfex specializes in heat exchange equipment, the reselling of parts and the creation of completely tailor made systems and plants. Specifically they serve, the food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetic industries. “In Argentina, diversifying our work is key. We serve numerous different industries so that if one falters, the others can sustain the business,” says Miguel.
Despite the need to diversify, Miguel believes that entrepreneurship is growing in Argentina. “Argentina is a special country and in the long term, it will grow, but this year, it isn’t. I believe 2015 is a transformational year and that new government (elections are up in October of 2015) – regardless of the party, will help put in place policies that encourage business growth in Argentina.” And yet, Miguel affirms that regardless of the current economic stagnation, “this is the time when we as entrepreneurs and business leaders are tested. We need to think long term and set ourselves up for growth. We can’t conserve all resources.” Despite a lagging first quarter for Edelfex, Miguel plans on hiring an additional six staff geared towards sales and customer service as well as opening a subsidiary in Mexico to serve the Mexican and Central American market. “We need to become a more sales oriented firm to capitalize on future growth.”