The war in Ukraine continues to cause heartbreaking death and destruction across the country. It is also causing mayhem and disruption for businesses of all kinds across a variety of different sectors. Fenestration is not immune from that disruption.

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a number of companies in the fenestration space have declared an end to their operations in that country. Sadly, not as many as perhaps some would like to have seen. Major PVCu systems house REHAU were pretty quick out of the blocks to end their operations in Russia. Whether others will follow suit in time remains to be seen.

Kock Industries, the parent company of Guardian Glass, issued this statement to staff on their website:

Below is an email Koch Industries President and COO Dave Robertson sent to Koch employees regarding operations in Russia.

Since the start of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine earlier this year, I’ve kept you apprised of our response given that Guardian Glass has approximately 600 employees at its two glass plants in Russia. Our primary focus has been on the safety of employees. Sanctions announced in early April, combined with the Russian government’s response and other actions, have made conditions untenable for Guardian to continue operations in Russia. As a result, Guardian asked its Russian employees to shut down the two glass plants. When made aware of this plan, Russian authorities repeated earlier warnings that local Guardian employees would violate Russian law and be prosecuted and imprisoned if they followed through with any shutdown activities, further reinforcing our concerns for employees’ safety.Therefore, Guardian is working with its local management team to find an exit strategy that maintains our commitment to employees’ safety and does not result in the Russian government taking over the plants and financially benefiting from them. All other Koch companies, none with operating assets in Russia, have ended or are ending business activities there.As a company and as individuals, we have consistently condemned Russia’s action and remain united in support of all employees and others who are harmed by this terrible war. Sincerely,

Dave Robertson signature

Dave Robertson is the president and COO of Koch Industries. 

In the letter, you see the difficulty companies are facing when trying to pull out of Russia. The Russian Government has recently passed laws which will allow them to seize the property of any international company that decides to cease operations there. In theory, it means Guardian Glass could pull out, stop working, and then Russian officials come and take their buildings, machinery and other assets from them, effectively forcibly nationalising them. Guardian Glass would lose all those assets and Russia could then reopen the facilities under the Government.

I suspect this is what has been holding back other companies from closing their operations too. Do they do the right thing and leave Russia to stop them from benefitting from their work? Or do they stay and retain their assets to prevent them from being seized but continue to support the Russian economy in the process?

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