John Guerry: “Nokia will stay here for a long time”
The Nokia manager said that he would like a golf course to be built in Cluj in the next three years and that, although he is registered as an independent in the United States of America, he would vote for Barack Obama in the elections. He also stated that he loves the political leaders Emil Boc and Marius Nicoară as if they were his brothers.
What were the greatest difficulties that you encountered when implementing the Jucu investment?
The hardest thing of all was to stick to the plan. We had a deadline that was very difficult to reach. We chose to begin the factory construction at the beginning of winter. Thus we had to face the winter conditions. We had problems on the construction site: water accumulations and temperatures dropping below 20 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, we were supported by the authorities, the personnel wasn’t hard to find. Both the Government and the County Council made the implementation of the investment easy right from the beginning.
How many mobile phones will be produced daily at Jucu?
I would like to give you an exact figure and I think that the competition would also like to know which are our most productive assembly lines. All I can say is that the production will be very big, the factory is big and we will produce an immense quantity of mobile phones.
In Finland, the smallest salaries of the Nokia employees are 1.500 Euros, whereas in Jucu an employee will earn between 200 and 300 Euros. Why such a big difference?
When we decided to build the factory in Romania, we studied the economic environment. Thus, we pay the employees according to the market. We try to offer an attractive and competitive salary, but it must be in accordance with the market. Salaries here are not the same with those in Germany or in Finland, therefore we adapt our salary policy to the market and to the offer.
Nokia insists on the employees’ productivity. What will you do if, after a month, the Romanian employees prove to be lazy and the production of the factory is smaller than in other countries?
We now have 300 employees in the factory, a mix of assembly line operators and specialists. I personally speak to those that work at the assembly lines and I assure you that there won’t be any problem. Those who work with us are passionate, confident and devoted. I don’t think that there will be any problems. We have very good workers. We haven’t built mobile phones yet, we have only made tests and workers have already suggested several ideas to improve the assembly lines. This is one of the “Nokia style” components. Each factory has a special recommendation and suggestions program. It’s the workers that are doing the job, not the office personnel, therefore they know better what doesn’t work.
What kind of mobile phones will be produced at Jucu, cheaper or more expensive ones?
We will begin production with a small number of models, easy to build. It is a new factory, everything is new for Romania. We are only seven foreigners, the rest of the personnel comes from Romania. Therefore, there are seven qualified persons that actually know howe to build mobile phones. The remaining 293 have no experience.
Where will the phones produced at Jucu be sold?
The markets that we aim at are Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Russian market is also in our view, as well as Eastern Europe. We will certainly sell phones in Western Europe.
How do you think that Nokia will affect Jucu and Cluj? How do you imagine Cluj three years after the Nokia factory opening?
We will hire 3.500 people and at least three world-class suppliers will come here. They will also hire a lot of people, maybe not as many as we will. I have seen the County Council’s forecast. It showed that the county will react 1.000.000 inhabitants in ten years, therefore we will have a bigger industrial park. A new airport is to be built, a highway, the Transylvania Highway. It will bring more investors here. I think that Cluj-Napoca is becoming one of the most important cities in Romania. I personally wish that a mexican restaurant and a golf course will be open here in the next three years. I will stay here forever if that happens in three years.
Who do you prefer? Emil Boc or Marius Nicoară?
I love them both as if they were my brothers. As the City Council’s President, Marius Nicoară was a key-figure for us and for the Jucu investment. He is one of our greatest supporters. I met him many times, he is very helpful. The Mayor Emil Boc is doing a lot of things for Cluj-Napoca. Most of our workers are from Cluj-Napoca and Boc is very influent when it comes to the labour force.
Do you think that the political instability in Romania might affect the Nokia investment?
Nor Boc or Nicoară, nor the Democrats or the Liberals, nor Hungarians or the Social-Democrats could endanger the investment because they are all thinking about the benefits that it brings to the community. Even if they are at war on the political scene, at the end of the day politicians try to bring here as many foreign investments as they can in order for the Romanian lifestyle to evolve.
Are you a Democrat or a Republican? Who will you vote in the United States elections?
I am registered as an independent in the United States, but I will vote for Barack Obama. I am a fan of his and I will vote him because for the last eight years we had a very unpopular president that lead the country into difficult positions when faced to Presidents from around the world. Obama is the most charismatic candidate and he has the best external policy. I think that he will make the whole world appreciate the United States.
Most of the Nokia shares are now being held by American trust funds. Is this the reason that Nokia chose to name you as a manager in Romania?
I think it’s because I’m beautiful (he laughs). I hope that me being an American is not the reason. I was also a factory manager in the United States, in Dallas. I think that mattered too.
Employees were fired in Dallas too, like in Germany. How hard is it to fire workers that strongly believe in the “Nokia lifestyle”, employees devoted to the company?
Yes, I had to fire people. How can it be easy to fire people? I hope that nobody will have to do that. What happened in Germany is not a joke. It was a business matter and it had to be done. Anyway, a terrible thing happened and it was extremely hard for Nokia to do that. I worked for Motorola for nine years and a half and I can say that there is a major difference between the way Nokia treats its employees and the way other companies do.
Nokia promised to get involved in the community. Until now, you have mentioned partnerships with USAMV and UTCN. How exactly will Nokia get involved in the community?
We have been busy with the factory construction until now. Nevertheless we organised a Christmas party and we made presents to an orphenage. We didn’t bring it out in the media because we sometimes like to get involved in te community without making the headlines. We intend to invest in the universities. For example, Nokia built bycicles in India. There is a constant program within the company through which we help the communities. Nokia will be here for a long time and we want to get involved.