inverveiw for the newspaper “Stroitel”
„TANGRA” celebrates its 25th anniversary
On August 17, 2014, “TANGRA” celebrated 25 years from its founding. The company is specialized in the designing, construction, production, installation and servicing of ventilation, air conditioning and heating equipment.
On March 1, 1989, Act 56 was issued and private business was legalized in Bulgaria. Dipl. Eng. July Armianov invited his closest friends for partners and on August 17th, with the decision of the Sofia Council Court, the company “TANGRA” was founded. The name was particularly chosen as a successor of Dipl. Eng. Armianov’s father’s company “TANGRA – Lazar Armianov”, that existed till 1944.
Dipl. Eng. Armianov, tell us a few words about your professional career. How has your business developed over the years?
I finished my master degree in the Technical University of Sofia in 1978. The name of the major at that time was “Industrial heating and ventilation”. After that, I immediately started working in ISPROEKT. This was the design organization of the Ministry of Telecommunication and I had the pleasure to design HVAC installations in post offices, phone centrals and few TV towers. My first big project was extending and upgrading the Central Post Office in Sofia.
In 1983 I went to „New Energy Sources“, with the idea to start a scientific career. This happened a few years later in „Polimerstroy“, where I won a contest for scientific associate and after a few years I became the leader of the research section of the plant. What was interesting for me and very useful for the customers, were the researches and the embedded projects for installations and maintenance of microclimate in polymer greenhouse tents. Hundreds of greenhouse tents were built in only three years with our installation, which was based mainly on geothermal energy. The quality and quantity of our production were really satisfying economically, due to which we were invited to participate in the International Agricultural Fair in Greece.
Some people probably remember that during this time, the salaries of engineers and scientist were not very proper. Because of this, I was always forced to look for additional work possibilities at places like Scientific and technical alliances, Union of the Architects, etc.
When in 1989 Act 56 was issued and private business was allowed in one form or another, I was faced with the dilemma to either continue my career as a research scientist in a state organization or to become an entrepreneur. Nowadays, you know what my decision was back then and I think it was the right one as the theoretical knowledge I gained still helps me in developing our business.
This month “TANGRA” turns 25. What did you achieve during these 25 years?
Our first 25 years are equal to exactly 9132 days. Do not expect me to explain miracles. Each day has been a test for us. We started our business as a design company. In 1991 we rented a small warehouse and invested all of our incomes from design into machines, tools and raw materials. We developed and started serial production of our first product – ventilation diffusers. After that we appointed the first workers in the production and installation departments. Thanks to our experience as designers and scientist, my partners and I started the development of a series of devices and elements for ventilation and air conditioning systems.
In 1994, “TANGRA” opened its first show room and trade center for ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems. We started to build a chain of distributors in Bulgaria. The same year, “TANGRA” became an official representative of “Soler & Palau” of Spain for Bulgaria. It is one of the biggest producers of fans in the world. Due to their wide range of industrial and domestic fans, we were able to develop a series of new products and to become one of the biggest producers of HVAC equipment in Bulgaria in the beginning of the 90’s. In 1995 we did our first export – PVC plate heat exchangers for Greece.
Of course, we have not forgotten the period of hyperinflation and economic problems in Bulgaria in 1996-1997. We mobilized, developed new products and in this way we were able to keep all our workers.
In 2000 we opened our first owned production and trade center in Sofia on 174, Europe blvd. Five years later, the establishment of our second factory followed. Both factories were equipped with modern and high-precision machinery. We also established our own commercial and trade departments in Varna and Bourgas, as well as a chain of distributers. Many new elements for HVAC were implemented in the production program because production is the main component in our business.
We participated for a few years in the biggest international exhibition in Plovdiv. We won the gold medal for our range of energy and heat saving ventilation. In 2008 and 2014 we had the pleasure to also take part at Mostra Convegno in Milano, which helped us develop our export even more. In the beginning of this year, we receive the award of the German-Bulgarian Trade and Industry for our new range of high efficiency energy saving ventilation systems.
In what main branches is your company structured?
As I mentioned earlier, production is the main department in our company. We offer a wide range of products for ventilation, air conditioning and heating. We have separate units for installation of air, water and Freon systems. Our design and R&D teams are composed of highly qualified engineers that use the latest software systems. Every new product goes through a series of tests in our HVAC laboratory. In 2003 we established our subsidiary company “BG Steel”, which is specialized in sheet metal working.
What are you proud of?
I am proud of the fact that over the course of 25 years, my partners and I were able to build a good, honorable and innovative company. I am extremely thankful to them and it is a pleasure for me that we are celebrating together for the 25th time. The variety of awards received by TANGRA gives me a reason to be proud of our professional and trustworthy team. Last, but not least, I am proud with our children, who started working from the bottom and now, after having graduated from university, continue to grow up in our company on their own. They work very hard and contribute for the better future of our company.
As a company with a lot of experience, what are the steps for improvement of energy efficiency in ventilation and air conditioning that you might suggest?
We, as immodestly as it sounds, are one of the first Bulgarian companies that introduced energy efficiency in a time when this was not a popular topic. Prices of natural gas, electricity and petrol continue to rise and people’s expectations are that the heating and ventilation systems in their buildings should be energy saving. “TANGRA” is a really “green” company as our systems protect the environment. We started production of plastic plate heat exchangers in 1992. Over the years, we expanded the production and began to develop it in a more energy saving direction. Two years ago, we began producing high efficiency heat recovery ventilation systems that recuperate up to 85% of the energy of the exhaust air. It is roughly estimated that, if working simultaneously, our energy saving ventilation units would process more than 20 million m3/h, saving up to 135MW/h of electric energy.
Which are the most remarkable projects that your company has taken part in? Which is the last project that you worked on? What energy saving systems did you use?
It is hard to point out one or just a few remarkable projects. We were thought to respect every project that we work on and respect every customer we are working with. Our installations and equipment are in hundreds of hotels, including a few 5 star hotels. Administrative and commercial buildings with thousands of square meter floor area are equipped with our products in their ventilation systems. Traveling around Bulgaria, I pleasurably notice that a lot of our products are installed and working. I am really happy when we are doing installations in Bulgarian factories, where Bulgarian workers produce Bulgarian products.
One of our biggest challenges we had was the reconstruction of the filter systems in the Nuclear Power Plant in Kozludui, which process over a million cubic meters of air per hour. The specific of this project was that we were forced to conform to the preexisting equipment, which we had to combine it with our own production elements and last, but not least, they had to be approved by the European Nuclear Certification Organization.
The multifunctional building “Arco Towers” is the biggest project that our company designed. The construction has not started yet, but this does not change the fact that our company has developed all HVAC installations in a building with a 300 000 sq. m. total floor area. During the design process, we visited the construction site of “Burj Halifa” in Dubai (the tallest building in the world 828m), which was very important for us. There we were able to see how ventilation installations were installed and the specifics in constructions in a skyscraper.
The bread factory for SIMID is one of the projects that we are proud of. We are currently doing the installations in the first sky scraper in Bulgaria – “Capital Fort”. Apart from the standard ventilation and air conditioning systems, we are also implementing our air handling units with heat pump module, as well as high efficiency heat recovery and energy saving ventilation. Both systems recover more than 80% of the energy.
Tell us few words about yourself.
It is hard for me to imagine what “personal life” means. This is probably the story of a typical family company. My wife is also my partner in the company as is also the case with our other associates. I sent my son to do his master degree in Management in the United Kingdom and now he is trying to manage my work life. However, when I have free time, I love to travel and listen to music, but unfortunately I rarely have time off for vacation.
In what direction are you planning the future development of your company?
In the beginning, our main goal was to just have work. After that, we looked for development and started expanding our production range and distributor chain in Bulgaria. Then we continued with sales in all countries from the Balkan Peninsula. Nowadays we sell our products in 16 European countries. Our targets for the future are new products and new Bulgarian and foreign partners. We still have a lot of work ahead of us …