Artem Dulkin: 300 years of quality traditions at our manufactory
The visitors and the participants in the last year’s Mir Detstva exhibition stared in amazement at the stand of the Polotnyano-Zavodskaya Bumazhnaya Manufaktura (Cloth Paper Manufactory), which celebrated its 300 years anniversary. Three hundred years have passed since the time when the great grandfather of Natalia Goncharova, the wife and the muse of the famous poet Alexander Pushkin, manufactured here the first batch of sailcloth followed by paper products. We were lucky to visit the Cloth Paper Manufactory and meet the hospitable owners. Artem Dulkin, the Commercial Director of the Manufactory, gave us the tour around the enterprise.
The first feeling from viewing the Cloth Paper Manufactory: the time has stopped here – the quiet backwater of the Sukhodrev River, and the Pushkin Alley, and Lukomorye Oak Tree – all seem to be a frozen old photograph. However, if we take a step to the left of the estate, we return to the 21st century with its rapid rhythm. One by one, the trucks drive up to unload paper bulk for recycling and pick up the load of the company’s products. Perhaps, only the wrought-iron gates and the old building of the Buzeon Paper Museum remind us that we are in a historical place where history, culture, and commerce are closely intertwined.
“Let's start from the beginning,” Artyom Dulkin leads us to the former workshop of the 18th century, which now houses the museum. “In the 18th century, Peter the First carries out an import substitution program, if put it in modern terms. The Cloth Paper Manufactory was established in the framework of this program. Peter the Great needs sailcloth and paper of his own production. Many probably know that the Cloth Paper Manufactory is located in the estate of the Goncharovs, the family to which Natalya Goncharova, Pushkin’s wife, belonged, and that the great poet himself visited the estate many times. However, not everyone knows that there are the buildings of manufactory shops next to the three-story master’s house, built by Afanasy Goncharov, Natalia Goncharova’s great-grandfather. People there produce paper; they do the same thing they did in the times of Pushkin. In 1775, Empress Catherine II, satisfied with the quality of the writing paper produced, gave the Manufactory the title of “The Supplier of the Court of Her Imperial Majesty”; and watermarks, medals, and the honorary title of the manufacturer appeared on Goncharov’s writing paper. Afanasy Goncharov, the founder of the manufactory, was one of the richest people of that time. His descendants turned out to be less successful commercially, especially the grandson, simply put, a slob who blew everything off.
“What is it like working at an enterprise that is of such tremendous historical and cultural value?”
“We tried to preserve carefully everything connected with the traditions of production at the Cloth Paper Manufactory. We have been collecting the evidence and the artifacts of the epoch bit by bit. Moreover, most importantly, what we are proud of, we have managed to continue the work of the Goncharovs in terms of producing premium products. For 300 years, we have been making high quality paper from recycled materials; and today we are releasing premium high quality and beautiful products.
“These walls were seen by Catherine II, Alexander Pushkin, and Kutuzov,” Artem leads us through Buzeon, a unique museum of paper, which contains dozens of expositions devoted to paper production in various countries and national cultures. And, of course, there is a separate stand dedicated to Pushkin. “The Manufactory was also a sponsor of Alexander Pushkin, because in the last years of his life, he published Sovremennik magazine, and the Manufactory produced the paper for the magazine free of charge, of course.”
“Buzeon, the country's first interactive paper museum, has been open for only one year, but we have already received tons of feedback and applications. More than 20,000 people have visited the museum during this time. The area of more than 1,200 sq m will tell you almost everything about paper from the first production facility establishment to the most modern paper technology. There is a library and a lecture hall at the museum. The visitors can work at the workshop of manual paper casting, they can make paper all by themselves.
Photo: Konstantin Gavrilenko, Director of Buzeon Museum demonstrates a historic paper machine.
“Let's get back to production. Would you tell us, what is your product range now? What is your mood for the new season, for the new school season?”
“The summer months, and especially August, are an active phase in our sales, the time when the main sales of notebooks and paper products are effected. Today, during one production shift, the enterprise produces 400 thousand copybooks, albums, and notebooks. The factory has gone through a major modernisation: we have introduced high tech European production lines. Our product range does not change dramatically. We made a decision for ourselves, like the founders of The Manufactory 300 years ago, that we will only do what we can do well! We do not plan to produce pencils, pens, or briefcases. Although we added a large line-up of copybooks and sketchbooks to our traditional notebooks and albums. This line-up will be constantly updated, as it turned out to be very popular.
“For more than 15 years, we have been introducing the best printing technologies together with our partners and friends Cardboard-Polygraph. We actively use foil in the covers of our notebooks and albums, as well as combinations of different printing technologies. We are market leaders in embossing. Most of the series are manufactured with multi-level embossing and, in combination with metallisation, we get a notebook that I just do not want to let go! One of the most popular brands in notebooks is Magic Lines, in which for the first time we use practically all known printing technologies: selective UV varnishing, holographic sparkles, multi-level embossing, etc. Today, The Manufactury is the market leader in the application of “special effects” on notebook covers.
“This year we decided to manufacture all our products under the umbrella of the unifying brand “Cloth Paper Manufactory since 1718”.
“What products will you bring to the exhibition this September?”
“We will bring our new 2020 collection of paper products and specialties to the anniversary exhibition. We will present about 70 percent of our collection.
“Mir Detstva is a good reason to meet the coming school season: almost all our partners visit the exhibition, they come over to our stand, and they study and test our products. They often praise our products and note that they make more profit with our products; moreover, their turnover increases 30-35%. Using this opportunity, I would like to thank all our customers for their cooperation, and to welcome new customers who we hope to meet and win during the exhibition!”