US print business Company Folders is working to get its Ukrainian team to safety as Russia lays siege to the country. Four employees and their families were pinned down by shelling in Kharkiv before being able to escape to western Ukraine.
Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022 (https://depositphotos.com)
Vladimir Gendelman, born in the Kharkiv, Ukraine and the founder and CEO of US printer Company Folders, says the company is struggling to help its Ukrainian workforce stay safe and keep working.
Since the Russian invasion, Gendelman and his US-based team have been working to help his employees move to safer areas and ensure they have the money they need to get to safety and see to their day-to-day needs.
| Vladimir Gendelman,
CEO Company Folders
At the outset of the invasion, Gendelman brought in a former US Army colonel to advise on military tactics and strategic targets. The company established multiple communication channels so they could maintain a connection if one went down. Using these channels and the military expertise, they were able to analyse the situation and advise each team member. The Ukraine team was also able to coordinate, share information, and help each other to safety.
“One employee was in Lviv and was able to cross the border into Poland almost immediately, before the declaration of martial law,” the company said in a statement.
“One employee located near a strategic railroad bridge was advised it was likely to become a target and was moved to a rural area a hundred miles away the day before the bridge was targeted for a diversion.
"Four employees were pinned down by shelling in Kharkiv with their families but were eventually able to get cars and leave for western Ukraine. The last employee is in Mykolaiv, directly in the path of the Russian invasion from the Black Sea. With elderly parents who cannot travel, he has chosen to stay there.”
Gendelman provided funds to assist the relocation, as well as assuring the team they would be paid, even if the disruption of relocation, interruptions in power and internet, or severe stress and mental fatigue made it impossible to work.
The Company Folders team had been based in Donetsk in 2014, during the Russian separatist uprising, and Gendelman says he was aware the situation could change rapidly. Toward that end, he also offered advances on salaries in case bank infrastructure failed and organized a business crypto account as backup.
The Company Folders US team has worked to take the stress off colleagues in Ukraine, taking over some client-based tasks, rearranging priorities around website development, as well as maintaining communication and providing support.
Gendelman is also actively engaged with an international network of entrepreneurs who are working to help meet the needs for humanitarian and military aid in Ukraine.