With an experience of 47 years in constructions, he practically travelled all around the world for the profession he chose. For the last 8 years he has been living in Romania, where, in full economic crisis, chose to launch his own project management business. David Evans, the owner of Optim Project Management, shared with wall-street.ro his business targets, the story of his construction engineering carrier, a carrier he has been practising for over half a century.
David Evans is a truly inspiring manager: he has been involved in the construction field for almost half of century. Although a British man, he spent most of his carrier travelling and working in various countries of the world. His extraordinary enthusiasms and passion gave him the courage to, in spite of the global economic crisis, launch is own business in Romania, a business developed from scratch to 4 million euro in 2015.
Now, the company’s portfolio includes the greatest and most significant projects on the local market: from the ParkLake Plaza Mall (Sonae Sierra) or from the shopping centre developed by NEPI in Timisoara, to the Oregon Park Offices, developed by Portland Trust, Victoriei Office Building (NEPI), Veranda Mall (Prodplast Imobiliare), Anchor Plaza Metropol (Anchor Grup) and the LOG IQ (Immofinanz) logistic project. During the last years, Optim also collaborated in projects such as Vulcan Value Centre, Targu Jiu Shopping City and Green Gate.
David Evans evolved against the current. When the crises stroke the international project management companies who then began to leave the market, he would establish his first local PM Company. The beginning was difficult, there had been no job request for months, and the first year had been a quite challenging one. However, little by little, the business developed steadily.
“This year, in general, the market improved, there are more office building development opportunities, the retail works well for us, the logistic and manufacturing facilities keep developing and the residential sector is making a comeback”, David Evans says, being confident that the businesses of Optim Project Management would practically double, up to approx. 4 mil. euro, compared to 2.2 mil. euro in 2014.
Evans confirms that the company’s projects extend to 2016 and even 2017. What are the development risks envisaged by the manager? Evans does not see major risks, however the construction business is a cyclic one, thus, every 7-8 years there is a crisis somewhere in the world. “I crossed many crises”, confesses the manager how spent over 5 decades in the field.
David Evans came to Romania at the end of 2006, as the operations manager of Bovis Lend Lease, a company that withdrew from the market with the recession. “When Bovis decided to withdraw from the Romanian market and from other markets in the region, I was working on EuroTower and still ad almost 15% until completion, thus, I decided, along with a few of my colleagues, to create a local company and continue the project. And so the story begins”, says David Evans.
The beginning was anything but easy. Evans confesses that there was no request for the first 6 months. “Later requests started to come in and we managed to grow a relation with NEPI, our client in retail and office. We also carried out technical due diligence for them, for the procurement of several real estate projects”, says Evans, who started his carrier in England, which he left in 1978 for the Latin America. There followed the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine and Romania.” I work my way up back home”, jokes the manager of Optim Project Management.
Speaking of the key factors leading to the development of Optim Project Management, David Evans confirms that the personnel, the knowledge, the fact that the prices reflects the market level, as well as the quick adjustment entailed by the company’s being a locally based one, helped the company grow during the difficult years faced by the market. “Our employees have great experience in the construction field, are used to facing challenges”, says Evans.
Even if the business in Romania is no longer facing the lack of client’s demands, things are never easy in constructions. These days, the development of the construction business in Romania, as well as abroad, involves new challenges from the human resources point of view. “The main difficulty consists in finding good personnel. There is a lot of work to do not only in Romania, but also on other markets. Especially, the Middle East attracts labour from all around the world, including Romania, thus it becomes more and more difficult to find quality personnel”, says Evans.
In relation to the company’s recruitments, Evans says that the majority are based on recommendations but on social networks as well. The positive evolvement of the market has a strong impact on the costs as well. Evans considers that the market is already registering a slight increment in terms of construction costs, and the project management companies’ fees will start increasing as well, even though not substantially.
How does the future development of Optim Project Management look like
Evans says that currently, Optim Project Management arrived at point where it can no longer reach the accelerated development rhythm of the past years and of 2015, therefore, in order to keep growing the business, he is considering other opportunities outside Romania, in the Balkan region. Moreover, a domain that could entail greater developments in the years to come is the renewable energy field, a field affected by statutory amendments on green certificates, but in where Evans senses a revitalisation: in terms of project development, not in relation to new projects, but to refunding. “We are working on our second wind farm project and have ongoing technical and hydrological due diligence projects. There are opportunities in this sector in Romania, as well as in the region”, says Evans.
Evans says that he experienced his best experience in the construction field in Romania, considering the variety of the projects. “The construction market is very dynamic and, even with my vast experience, I am still learning more every day.
Each project is different, and the learning process never ends”, commented David Evans.
In conclusion, I ask the manager of Optim Project Management if he believes the local construction market has improved. From the quality point of view, Evans believes that the market has improved during the last years and not due to foreign constructors but to the Romanian ones. The most significant change during the last 5-7 involves safety, with companies becoming more and more aware of its importance. Sustainability also registers major changes.