“As a businessman you always have to find a way around”

The business itinerary of Rubén Cherñajovsky is very particular. In 1987 he installed his first plant in Tierra del Fuego to position himself today as the largest group of household appliances in the country, owner of a portfolio of emblematic brands, such as Noblex, Siam, Atma, Sanyo and Philco. “There were stages of opening imports or promotion to local manufacturing. And in all cases we always try to find a way back, “he says.

A 70-year-old fan of River Converse, as he ironically admits, Cherñajovsky recalls that the leading empire has a philosophy of reconversion. In 2011, by case, and facing the official demand to compensate each dollar of imports with exports, created Newsan Food, its food division, which today concentrates 20% of total fish exports, a fleet of 38 ships ( 6 own) and that billed US $ 234 million last year. The group has just finalized its last pirouette.

In partnership with the Danish giant Vestas, Newsan converted its Campana plant – where it produces small appliances – to assemble turbines for wind mills, which aims to take advantage of the boom in renewable energy in the country. Cherñajovsky explains that the agreement emerged after the partial reopening of imports. “The current policy is that small electronics are no longer protected. We could sell the plant, the building and the facilities, but what we analyzed is to see what we could do with this, with our industrial and financial capabilities and know-how. Until Vestas came up, “he said in an exclusive talk with the Economist, shortly before the opening of the new assembly lines, last week. And he talked about everything.

– Do you feel more comfortable with this government or do you prefer the previous one?

-We are entrepreneurs, we adapt and put our effort with whatever administration. We do not choose who governs us. I give you an example. At present, one of the sectors where we generate more work is fishing. We created that department because of the shortage of foreign currency and the requirement that in order to import inputs we had to export. Instead of buying quantities from an exporter and paying them – as many did – a commission, we created Newsan Food and today we are the main exporting group in the country. We concretized it in a few years and we will continue to grow.

-Electronic sales were growing strong, until the devaluation. What do you project for 2019?

-As everything, it depends on a series of factors. It is necessary to see if after this blow to control the dollar you can reduce the rates. Our sector is highly dependent on financing. Logically, the priority for the Government is to control the value of the dollar, but we hope that gradually confidence can be gained to lower the rates. For which I expect a little more activity.

– Is it an expression of desires or is it your real projection?

-I think the rates are going to go down, with a rate / dollar ratio trying to find a balance.

70 years old, married and with 5 children, Cherñajovsky is defined as a serial entrepreneur. With disorderly passion, at age 19 and while working as a real estate salesman, he studied several careers (Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology and Law), but “I did not finish any,” he says. He remembers that his grandfather and his father set up a small food import company (“the Newsan Foods division is a reissue of that”) and that he ventured into electronics through an engineer uncle, who had worked at BGH.

“He joined me in his project to install a high fidelity audio equipment manufacturing plant in Rio Grande, which we later sold to Philips,” he remarks. Later, associated with the merged Sanyo and Sansei, in 1991, he created the first Newsan plant, in Ushuaia, to go climbing. He drank the plants of Avellaneda (where he makes the Siam refrigerators) and Campana (in 2012), and the last year it reached a turnover of US $ 1,719 million.

After closing an agreement with Vestas (the largest global provider of equipment for wind power), in May they began assembly of the wind turbine assembly lines. It is the central part of the mills, which joins the mast with the blades. In principle, the plant has an installed capacity for 200 units per year, in a single work shift. That is, half of the estimated demand from the 63 projects awarded to build wind farms, of which 36 are already in execution.

The new plant of the Newsan and Vestas alliance is the only one of its kind, at the moment. Impsa (from the Pescarmona group) was the pioneer. Years ago he manufactured them, but decided to move that operation to Brazil.

The government’s push for renewable energy (wind, solar and biomass) generated a boom, in parallel with the promotion of local mill production…

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