Before the war, entrepreneur Andrii Kaidash had his own workshop in Vasylivka, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, where he manufactured trailers for transporting beehives called Bdzholoviz — also the name of his company. Kaidash had orders from beekeepers for several months in advance, and his workshop hummed with daily activity.
At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, production stopped. Vasylivka was occupied on the second day of the war.
“It was too risky to continue working. My family hid in the basement for several months. Fighting began immediately in the city. We had no water, and the electricity was periodically cut off due to hostilities,” says Kaidash of the first days of the war.
Armed Russian occupiers came to his workshop, which contained machinery and tools for metalworking.
“Several times I told the people who came that it was not my property, I didn’t have the keys and couldn’t help. But one day they broke the locks and went inside. When I came there later, I saw that they were repairing something on the machines, although nothing was stolen, all the tools were still on site,” he recalls.
At the end of April, Kaidash and his family decided to escape the occupation. They had to drive through several enemy checkpoints, and the chances that machinery or tools would be taken away was very high, so he took only one welding machine with him.
“I had six such machines in my workshop, but I decided to take one, so that even if they took it away, I wouldn’t feel so sorry,” he says.
That welding machine, as well as the large trailer he used to transport equipment for his production, were let through the checkpoints. At the time there were so-called “green corridors” through which people could go from occupied areas to Ukrainian-held territory. The family went to Zaporizhzhia, the nearest Ukrainian city, 50 kilometers from Vasylivka.
Before the war, the entrepreneur had received many pre-paid orders for production of Bdzholoviz trailers.
“I felt a great responsibility for those unfulfilled orders, so I had to start working again,” he says. “It was unrealistic under occupation, I just had to move to free Ukrainian territory.”
Since trailer frames need to be galvanized, and the relevant enterprise is located in Cherkasy, Kaidash decided to leave Zaporizhzhia and set up his workshop in Cherkasy region, where he found local support.
“While looking for production premises we met a wonderful person, local successful entrepreneur Oleksandr Korol, who offered us his house to live in. He also helped with contacts of a leaser for production premises. I am very grateful that during the war there are people who are ready to help,” says Kaidash.
Kaidash rented industrial premises in the village of Svydivok, Cherkasy Oblast, bought production machines and welding equipment, and hired his relatives to work.
The trailer manufacturing process takes longer now that there is not enough equipment, workers, or working capital. But Kaidash has not lost his optimism and continues to fulfill orders. Several trailers have already been manufactured in the new workshop for customers from Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv and Sumy regions.
“When we made the first trailers in the new location, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had finally begun to give customers the orders they had been waiting for for months. That was a pleasant feeling, although no one reproached me for the missed deadlines,” he says.
The entrepreneur does not know whether he will be able to return home, so for now he is working in a new place, providing jobs for his relatives and dreaming of the victory of Ukraine.