Khaadiin Ger LLC is a Mongolian company with a high reputation among national and international consumers as a manufacturer of gers and furniture. The ger is the traditional dwelling of Mongolian nomads that is portable and felt-lined. The company actively participates in international fairs and exhibitions to promote their unique Mongolian ger structures and furniture. Khaadiin Ger has even won top prizes from fairs held in South Korea and Taiwan in 2014 and 2015.
The following is an interview with director of Khaadiin Ger E.Batbold about his company.
When was Khaadiin Ger established?
The foundation of our company was set up in 2007. We were self-employed until 2014, when we became an official company. Professional carvers and painters work for Khaadiin Ger. Mongolian State Honored Cultural Worker, illustrator and carver G.Tsogbayar is working as an adviser of our company.
Many consumers say that Khaadiin Ger produces artistic and luxurious furniture for gers that have incredible details. How are gers and products manufactured by Khaadiin Ger different from other companies in this field?
Our products are unique probably because we incorporate historic characteristics to them. We aim to show younger generations things that Mongolians used to use during certain historic periods and help them understand the history of Mongolia and the lifestyle of Mongolians of the past. As Mongolia’s traditional consumptions are all 100 percent eco products, it’s still valuable today. Therefore, we make furniture and ger structures from pure wood and felt; products with animal origin. We don’t use chemicals at all. Gers are made in the traditional method. We discussed with our advisors and considered it was more significant to make gers with historic characteristics.
Which century does the ger [in the picture] belong to?
This ger is a model of gers in Khunnu era (III century BC). The main attributes and symbol used at the time were deer and falcon. That’s why this ger has many carvings of deers and falcons.
Gers of how many historic periods have you made so far?
The ger of Khunnu era is the first historic ger that has been completed so far. It has already received several prizes as well. Now, we’re making a little more modern gers, from the 13th century, and another ger that was used by queens during that time. Blueprints have been developed. Soon, young people will be able to personally see a ger that Mongolian queens used to live in.
How much does a Khunnu era ger cost?
We set the price at 45 million MNT.
Does it take long to sell a ger because of its high price? Most tourist camps purchase and set up cheap gers. Can you comment on this?
We don’t get restrained by the price. We value the quality over the cost and make gers exactly the way it should be. But we do accept orders for customized gers. Our business will not grow if we only make historic gers. People like buying our gers because they know we stick to the traditional structure and design of gers and use natural materials that don’t harm the human body.
Some tourism camps have gers that are too embarrassing to show not only to foreigners but even to Mongolians. It’s obvious that tourism camps will need to make profit but shouldn’t they be more careful and responsible on this matter since they represent the culture of Mongolia to foreign guests? What’s your opinion on this?
This is definitely an important issue that needs to be raised. It seems that Mongolian businesses are being too concerned and bound by the opportunities and funds they have.
Even if they had adequate funds and capacity, I doubt that they would set up gers that fully portray the traditional Mongolian lifestyle and provide all the necessary furniture for tourists. As tourism camps start off with the funds in their pockets these days, they would prefer finding cheaper gers from markets and other places to set them up at their camp.
…people need to learn to treasure gers and the national culture regardless of the owner. They should use gers of camps cleanly as if it’s their own home…
Anyone who enters the Khunnu era ger can immediately experience and see nomadic lifestyle and culture. On the other hand, most gers at tourism camps consist of a few beds, a table in the middle and some chairs. According to some guides, there are many tourists who feel uncomfortable in these gers and want to leave as soon as possible.
We can’t forget that tourists and travelers don’t really use gers cleanly. No matter how magnificent a ger is, it wouldn’t be so encouraging to build or have it set up if people don’t value it. People need to learn to treasure gers and the national culture regardless of the owner. They should use gers of camps cleanly as if it’s their own home. Yet, there are numerous people who think it is okay to damage furniture inside gers of tourism camps just because they paid to stay. I think that this might be the reason why not all camps have grand and luxurious gers.
The issue can be resolved easily with some effort. This is also a matter of cultural production. Like the saying “cut one’s coat according to one’s cloth”, I observed that tourism camps choose different gers. Some ask for cheaper gers that aren’t extravagant, while others search for gers that are luxurious, fully furnished and fit for honored guests.
People make their choices based on who is to use it. Still, tourism camps should also try to promote the history, tradition and cultures of Mongolia.
You seem to prioritize the promotion of Mongolian cultures to foreigners. However, Khaadiin Ger is also a company. Isn’t it difficult to always make model gers? Don’t you also need to do business and gain profit?
Rather than gaining profit, we strive to provide cheap gers, furniture and wooden items that are satisfactory and consistent to requests of companies or individuals. Prices vary depending on the size of the ger, details of carvings, the design and other factors. There are times when we need to be more flexible in consideration of the design and size they want as well as their financial capacity.
Mongolians frequently mention the economic difficulty and refrain from luxuries, but your company seems to be able to sustain well. How is business in general?
There are always individuals or companies interested in purchasing certain number of gers. Most subscribers of Khaadiin Ger are individuals and the majority of them are people who value and respect Mongolian traditional lifestyles, cultures and heritages. Some people buy gers for the health of their family because they know that gers provide good air circulation and ventilation. These people usually set up gers next to their house and stay there to rest during hot days.
Most importantly, the biggest ambition of Khaadiin Ger is to export the gers we produce.
Exporting furniture gives the impression that a furniture company is expanding their business. But exporting a ger sounds very new. People are skeptical about whether foreigners would purchase Mongolian gers and live in them. There’s some news that Mongolians and people specialized in Mongolian Studies buy gers overseas and that there is an increasing number of foreigners who hold their weddings in Mongolian gers. Exactly who are purchasing gers outside of Mongolia?
Our company tried exporting gers to Russia. We exported it to Ulaan Ude. Some individuals were interested in setting up Mongolian gers next to their main house. Looking at this, it can be said that foreigners are starting to understand the significance and specialty of Mongolian gers. Now, we must make gers that attract the attention of foreigners. This is part of the reason why our company strives to research gers of different generations and incorporate historic characteristics into our gers.
Lately, running a business in Mongolia has become very challenging, according to some entrepreneurs. How is the current economic situation impacting your company?
Of course, we do feel the impact. I mean, we don’t produce products for daily usage. People don’t buy furniture every day so our company decided to export our products to our neighboring countries, China and Russia, with the objective to promote and increase procurement. It is useless to sit around complaining about low sales, slow business and decreasing number of customers. Foreign currency will come to Mongolia only if we continue to export products. It doesn’t matter if the export volume is low at the moment.