Vladimir Gendelman is the Founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc. As his company grew, he expanded his team in Ukraine and currently seven of the company’s 16 staff are in a dangerous situation.
PONTIAC, MI, March 02, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — As a young entrepreneur, Vladimir Gendelman was an avid learner and networker. The internet was just starting to hop in 2003, when he founded Company Folders, Inc., and he was active in many online forums. Gendelman was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union to escape anti-Semitism when he was a teen. So, he was pleased to connect to programmers and designers in Ukraine’s burgeoning tech sector through one of those forums. And he eventually hired a Ukrainian web designer to create his first web site to sell presentation folders.
As his company grew, he expanded his team in Ukraine to include software programmers, graphic designers, and quality assurance engineers. Currently, seven of the company’s 16 staff members are in Ukraine.
In 2014, when the war started, the team was concentrated in Donetsk, the epicenter of the separatist movement. Although it was dangerous and frightening, the conflict was concentrated in several areas, and it was possible to get around those areas to safety within the country. At the time, Gendelman was able to help provide financial assistance to relocate Company Folders, Inc. employees to safer areas and after a week or so, life and business settled down to a new normal.
“The current situation,” says Gendelman, “has no true solution. This isn’t pockets of anti-government separatists, but a full-scale invasion. There is no safe place.”
One of the seven employees was close to the Polish border and able to quickly cross to safety. But, shortly after, the Ukrainian government barred men ages 18 – 60 from leaving the country, leaving the six remaining employees trapped, four in Kharkov, one of Ukraine’s largest cities, right on the Russian border, one near a strategic bridge, and one who is in Nikolaev, directly in the path of the Russian invasion from the Black Sea, but chose to stay because his elderly parents cannot travel.
“Since this conflict has been simmering for almost a decade, nobody expected Putin to attack the entire Ukraine at once. Therefore, people were slower than they might have been to take measures, other than gassing the car and buying extra food,” said Gendelman. “Then, as Russia started to invade, they also thought nobody would come into the city – that they were going after military objects – that they were not going to kill peaceful citizens, which turned out not to be true. Now it’s all panic and for the past few days, all the roads have a tremendous amount of traffic on them, so it’s hard to get anywhere.”
The Company Folders US team is working around the clock to help staff move to less dangerous areas. They have connected with a former US army colonel who is providing guidance about Russian military targets and tactics. Combined with Gendelman’s intimate knowledge of the country, they have been able to direct staff about when it’s safe to move and where to go. They are focused on getting them away from strategic military targets, transportation hubs and large cities.
“We’re in constant communication, using Slack, Skype, and WhatsApp so if one goes down, we can still communicate and help them share information about their experiences on the ground, so they can each make their best decisions.”
Gendelman is also sending money so they can get adequate food, water, shelter, battery back-ups and other supplies so they can hunker down with the hope of waiting out the conflict. As they wait, Gendelman told the staff they should take care of their families and are not expected to be working, but many are grateful for the normalcy and distraction work provides them in the midst of this chaos.
“Personally, I am completely devastated, partially because it is horrible to see people suffer in general. It is even more horrible to see people you know suffer. To see people who have been working for you for over a decade suffer – in some indirect way, I feel I am responsible for everyone who works for the company. On top of that, that is the place I was born. Luckily, I left a long time ago, but to a certain extent, I have this thought, I could have been there. It could easily have been me hiding in subway stations and bomb shelters.
Vladimir Gendelman is the Founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc. (https://www.companyfolders.com/), winner of multiple awards, including making Inc.’s list of 5,000 fastest growing private companies in America three consecutive years. He is a thought leader in business marketing, publishing numerous articles in major publications, including Forbes and Time.
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