Our Most Valuable Asste are the People and the Hard-Earned Trust

Businesses are nothing without the people

Engineer Kalin Peshov:

Our Most Valuable Asste are the People and the Hard-Earned Trust

Снимка: EconomyMagazine

Автор: Tatyana Yavasheva

Engineer Kalin Peshov is part of the management team of Glavbolgarstroy. In 2009, he became the Chairperson of the Management Board of Glavbolgarstroy AD, and in 2013, of Glavbolgarstroy Holding as well. His career development started in 1994 at Royal Potatoes, first as an electrical engineer, and later as a sales director. He worked there until 1999. Then, for around a year, he was at Honeywell Bulgaria. He worked for a short period of time in the Ministry of Finance, before he joined the largest construction company in Bulgaria – Glavbolgarstroy, where, in the period 2003-2006, he was the Marketing Manager. In 2006, he became its Executive Director and held this position until the beginning of 2011 when he assumed the role of a Chief Executive Officer. He received his engineering degree from the Technical University of Sofia. He graduated as a Master in Business Administration from the Business School in Lozana. Later, he completed an EMP program at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Eng. Peshov, this year Glavbolgarstroy turned 50. How will you summarize this half a century of development in a few sentences?

Work, work and work again. In order for a construction company to develop and survive for 50 years on the market we work on, its management must mostly comprise of workaholics, people without fear of challenges, even a pinch of craziness is also beneficial. But seriously, these fifty years represent an investment of a lot of work and perseverance, a constant strive to apply new technologies in search of the best solutions. These are fifty years of uncompromising professionalism and total dedication to the cause of building with honesty and quality not only buildings and infrastructure but also the trust of our partners, clients and employees.

Have you found the formula for company health and longevity?

Motivation is key to me. It is what makes you get up in the morning and do what you do... The more you focus on the quality of the product, the end result and the opportunity to create something beautiful and worthy, the more successful you will be in your work. Success is not an end in itself. It comes when you have the right attitude and invest your best in what you do. 

“Trust Won by Quality” is the motto of the Holding. How do you stand up for it in every project and every action with so many people working at so many sites?

The structure of the company has always complied with the current academic management trends. We adapt according to the environment and the needs in our sector, so that we can respond adequately. Sometimes this means expansion but sometimes it means shrinking the business. Of course, we have made a lot of mistakes but we have always stood up and continued forward.

On which markets are you present? Where do you work with the greatest ease and where is the hardest?

Over the years we have been present on many markets – from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, through Germany, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo to Morocco, Qatar and Egypt. Of course, our biggest market is Bulgaria. As for the difficulties – each market is different and specific, it comes with the respective culture, values, customs, institutional and legal frameworks, the needs and requirements of the local environment.

How does Glavbolgarstroy Holding currently look like in figures?

Our consolidated business is constantly changing. All over the world, construction is a cyclical business that depends on the changes in the economic situation of the country, on neighbouring markets, as well as on many other factors. We have reached BGN 450 million a year, and we have dropped to BGN 200 million. But what we consider to be the most important capital of the company and which is in our focus are our employees who are more than 2,000 people to date. They are the force that turns theory into practice and projects into reality.

You manage one of the largest construction companies in Bulgaria. Which are some of the sites you would like each one of us to link the name of Glavbolgarstroy to?

We, at Glavbolgarstroy, have a really huge variety of implemented projects. We built literary everything – airports, hotels, hospitals, gas infrastructure, landfills, water sector sites. This is a challenge that keeps us always awake, searching and open to creativeness and innovation. We are proud of many of our sites, but some of the most emblematic are Arena Armeets Sports Hall, the two Biovet factories we are currently working on, the transit gas pipeline for Turkey, the US Embassy, ​and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany that we have recently started constructing, the Struma motorway and many, many others.

Which are some of the greatest challenges that you have to overcome? After all, you are not alone on the market...

In addition to finding the right staff, a serious challenge in this industry is the fact that the business is cyclical and our efforts are focused on keeping the employees in cases when, in between big projects, there is a gap of six, nine and sometimes twelve months. Of course, we have to always bear in mind the constant liquidity risk. Construction companies are in an industry where they can go bankrupt the easiest and the fastest. In this sector, it happens very often that the investors delay or even do not make their payment, which puts the business in an extremely complicated and difficult situation.

You are one of the deputy chairpersons of the Bulgarian Construction Chamber (BCC). Why is this chamber important?

Glavbolgarstroy is a member of different organizations, but BCC is one of the few established under a special law. It unites the industry also around the problems of the sector. Together with our colleagues, we are trying to overcome challenges, to find common solutions, to look for and exchange good practices.

Your perspective on public procurements in which large construction businesses takes part...

Our balance sheet for the last year shows that 72% of Glavbolgarstroy’s revenue comes from private investors and only 28% from public procurements. Such a percentage is not always possible but our aim is the ratio between state and private sites to remain not more than 50%. Currently, we are implementing a second project for our partners from Aurubis, we have worked with companies, such as: Dundee Precious Metals, the global giant in the production of corn – Amylum, the German company Quarzwerke, this makes us independent from investments in the public sector.

New construction products and technologies are constantly emerging. How do you develop and modernize your business?

It is difficult for a company to be at a high technology level on a small market like Bulgaria, but we are trying to integrate the leading global practices in everything we do. During the construction of the Arena Armeets hall, a hydraulic technology for lifting the huge hall roof was used for the first time in Bulgaria. We are working on a complex technology for the repair of the bridge facilities of Hemus motorway. We have purchased the latest and most up-to-date American welding equipment for the gas sites we construct. Of course, we pay attention to the safety of people, we follow their development and ensure a good and peaceful environment to our employees.

Do you try to deploy something from the ancient knowledge used in construction?

In history, what is valuable are not only methods that were used but also the brave ideas that were materialized in buildings and facilities. When Kolyu Ficheto was looking at a river, he was not thinking about how impossible it was to move the gully with the materials and equipment available at that time. From that we learn that we should never give up. Where there is a will, there is a way, as the great Hristo Prodanov says.

What is the place of the Tsari Mali Grad Fortress among the special projects in which Glavbolgarstroy has taken part?

This is one of the most interesting projects in our company’s portfolio. We carried out restoration and conservation activities on the early Christian church and the ancient fortress. I dare say that the end result is remarkable. We spent a lot of time researching the real parameters of this ancient location and we restored it with utmost accuracy. The different thing about this project was that, while many people and companies try to profit from such historical sites, we invested additional resources from the profits of our own investment projects in order to achieve the look that the place deserves.

You manage a large business. What is your biggest dream for it?

Business is nothing without the people. Leaders, partners, employees, clients... when they are all happy that they have come in contact with Glavbolgarstroy, when they put its calendar on their kitchen table, it means that we have done something good.

One reason you would like to change this business with another, and one reason you would not want to.

You do not choose your own destiny. Surely, there are more exciting professions than that of builders. Every boy has dreamed of being a commando, and when he becomes a teenager, to be in the place of Hugh Hefner, but seriously, to leave behind projects that are beautiful and useful to people is great. I like my job and I wouldn’t change it for any other.

If you have to teach a lesson in patriotism to children, what would you tell them?

The only meaningful lesson in patriotism can be taught by personal example.

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