The Mongolian yurt, or ger as it is known in Mongolia itself, has been used for thousands of years by the nomads of Central Asia and is still a common sight in many countries in the region. One of the leading ger manufacturers, Modern Ger, is blending 3000 years of tradition with cutting edge and innovative engineering. Managing Director of the company Altantuya Sanduijav explains the history of the ger, the production process, the material used and how the company began to export gers around the world
Manufacturing showed steady growth and registered a strong performance; the sector grew at 8.9 % in 2013, up from 7.3 % in 2012. Vodka, gers and cashmere are key elements to understand Mongolian culture but also to showcase the importance of manufacturing in the country. What does the ger represents in Mongolia and how did you come with the idea of exporting gers?
The Mongolian ger is one of the most profound and greatest contributions to the Mongolian society and we are really proud of our ger way of living, as it is one of the most eco-friendly, ecological housing which exists nowadays in the entire world. The idea of supporting our nomadic culture and way of living to the world goes back to 1997 when we started our relationship with a French tourism company. Today they are our partners generating a mutual benefit relationship, exporting our gers to France and bringing tourists to Mongolia.
In 2002 we started our business designing and manufacturing gers to be exported to France. That was the beginning of a rising demand for gers for camping, private uses, restaurants etc., and became one of the reasons why we started to export gers to France. However, the requirements, quality and international standards of western countries are not the same as the ones that we have in Mongolia so we had to work hard to upgrade the quality of our gers in order to meet the needs of our clients.
In 2002 we started our process of exporting ger with the collaboration of a local tour operator. In 2005 we officially started Modern Ger LLC with an experienced and professional team, with the intent of exporting this emblematic part of our culture to the world.
Where does your expertise come from? Because in order to guarantee top quality you choose best quality eco materials, make each component in our factory, and each individual product is 100% tested carefully.
In our company there are highly skilled engineers. One of them is my husband, engineer Battulga Badraa, who is the “engine” of this company and the person behind our formidable ger structures. Any company needs a good team of workers and that’s something that makes us different from our possible competitors. Our employees are professionals and they have acquired lot of knowledge along these years. In order to meet our clients’ interest and demand, we are concentrating on every single detail.
We would like to know how you apply all your engineering knowledge to the gers and how important is the combination of technology and know-how to make one?
The Mongolian ger is about 3000 old. People calculated the most efficient size of the ger such a long time ago. Now things have changed and it’s possible to make larger gers with modern-house styles. It’s still critical to keep an efficient size and structure from ancient tradition, but at the same time we would like to add some details to make it look more modern. Nowadays, there are local and foreign researchers who are doing studies on gers and their history. Personally, I do a lot of research about foreign countries.
How would you accurately describe the quality of standards of Modern Ger LLC?
Mongolian Gers should be the most eco-friendly, economical, smart habitation to choose. But, improving the quality too much the result is that the price increases as well. Therefore, we always produce gers based on what our client wants. The European standards are quite high. In order to reach those standards we have to improve many of the elements. For example, in order to meet European standard, the wood has to be of a specific size in millimeters and it shouldn’t have any hole. In order to meet all the international requirements, we have to do more field studies and tests to improve. We use high quality materials and they also are ecological. Our gers can be used for a very long time.
How do you test and do the research in order to apply your innovations in the construction process?
The main raw material used for making a ger is wood. We import wood from Russia or we buy wood from highly qualified local suppliers. The other main raw materials are canvases such as tarpaulins, covers, or transparent materials usually imported from China or Korea. To buy these materials we have to have constant communication with those factories who are holders of quality certificates. Once they meet the standards we can request a proposal of how we can improve it, how to make adjustments such as fire proofing and factories respond by giving us specific solutions but it does change the cost so we have to create a balance on how to make the ger.
What’s the life time of one of your gers?
If properly used, Mongolian gers can be used from fifty to a hundred years. Of course there are some materials, especially canvas for example, that must be changed once a year or maybe once in five years: As long as the maintenance is good it can be kept for generations. Some of the gers actually are almost three generations old and some even more than that. Hence, the most important things that impact on life time standing are environment and way of usage.
How do you tech your clients to change the materials and to know how to put all the pieces of Ger together one they received it?
We have provided European partners with proper instruction (/www.yourte.com/), videos and documents on how to build a ger and at the same time we always supply materials, which have to be changed regularly.
How many Gers have you exported so far?
Previously when the economy was good we used to ship a container of gers, which contains twenty gers every month and at moment with the situation of the economy we are sending one container every two to three months. One container is forty feet and it includes some of the furniture; so twenty sets of gers with furniture.
Can you tell us about how the Mongolian Ger has been recognized by UNESCO?
In December 2013 UNESCO approved the Mongolian ger as part of Mongolian history so it is included in the world heritage list as cultural, intangible. Based on our history, we proved to the world that the Ger culture belongs to Mongolians. It is part of our heritage. Even during the second and the third century BC, in the Hunnic Empire Mongolian people were using gers. As we got the approval that the Mongolian ger is original from Mongolia we have a really big responsibility in order to protect and at the same time let the world know what the Mongolian ger is.