The company Multinvest Group from Mures is a business that, thanks to the constant evolution in over 25 years of activity, has reached with small but sure steps among the elite of the renowned companies in Romania. In addition to full engineering services in the field of construction and design, general contracting, it also operates as a real estate developer, realizing a network of office buildings and more, including a green building, business incubator, hotel, etc. By constantly developing and expanding its services, but keeping them at a high quality level and increasing its capacity for innovation, today it offers complex engineering solutions on a large scale to both national and international investors.
Interview with Eng. Gogolák-Hrubecz Zsolt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Multinvest Group and manager with 25 years of professional experience in the construction industry.
- How did the company's business develop in 2022 and what are your expectations for the coming year?
- In 2022, we can say that Multinvest Group has maintained its growth trend from 2021, on a recovery path after the pandemic, which will continue until the end of the year and also in 2023. Our optimism for 2023 is "healthy" in the sense that it is based on market research and risk analysis. And, just so you understand our thinking, in the spring of 2020, when it was already obvious (we say) that the pandemic is just the beginning of even bigger socio-economic waves, we started to take the appropriate measures (according to our vision) for such situations, characterised in particular by a very high degree of uncertainty. In 2021, we mobilised to recover from the shock of the pandemic and prepare for what we thought was coming. The first step was to initiate a process of internal reorganisation and restructuring of the Group, a process that will be completed in 2022. We made ourselves more flexible, more adaptable and reduced our exposure to the economic shocks we were expecting. From another point of view, we have focused our efforts on our own investments, which has again proved to be a winning policy. Let's not forget that in the crisis of 2010, when the real estate markets were collapsing, Multinvest started to build the first office building as its own investment. And one more very important thing: in 2021 and 2022 we invested in human resources, especially through organised staff development, not only technical, but also economic and administrative.
- How do you see Romania building in 2022 in terms of quality of construction?
- When we talk about the quality of construction, we must separate, from the start, two major aspects. One aspect is quality in terms of building safety. Here there is a whole library of laws, regulations, standards, etc., which go down to the smallest details and which must be respected from the design phase to final acceptance, i.e. throughout the life of a building. There is too much to say here, the law also provides for severe penalties and sanctions for non-compliance with building legislation. There is, however, the other aspect of construction quality, where there is much more to be said. It is about quality criteria that affect, first of all, the owner and the user of a certain building, through very high administration costs, but also the environment in which it is located, such as the environment created for the user or the facilities provided. Last but not least, there are issues related to the aesthetic appearance and the setting of the site, especially in an urban environment. This aspect of building quality depends on the level of economic thinking and general culture of the investor. And I am thinking primarily of the private investor, who represents the majority of our beneficiaries.
As far as the situation on the construction sites is concerned, the most significant "irregularity" is the poor quality of human resources. And this is the source of all the other irregularities, from messiness to waste to safety problems. In other words, you can be a coach however good and reputable, with a bunch of stumblers you will never win a championship.
- In which direction do you see the construction market heading?
- If we look back in history, periods of great socio-economic upheaval and transformation have been followed by periods of reconstruction and development. So, in the medium to long term, the construction market will again see steady growth. In the short term, it is very difficult to assess how it will react to the economic and social upheavals that are knocking at the door. There is a clear tendency for the state to invest, especially in infrastructure (transport, health, energy, education, etc.), which will offset the possible contraction in residential and non-residential private investment. But, as I said above, the degree of uncertainty is so great that we are taking survival measures, even considering the worst-case scenarios. One thing is certain, prices will continue an upward trend, including labour costs, but the magnitudes depend on what happens in the energy market and the ability of the central bank and the state to curb inflation.
As for the geopolitical context, if the situation does not evolve beyond a certain gravity, the construction sector may benefit at some point, when the time comes for reconstruction.
- What investments do you have planned in terms of digitisation of the activity?
- Multinvest Group has managed, on several occasions, to be a number of steps ahead of the competition in terms of technology. When the news came out recently that the government will initiate a programme for BIM I smiled, thinking that we started implementing and using this technology in 2018. Sure, we now know that it takes years to generalise in the construction sector, but we are a few years ahead of most of the competition. We look forward to the moves the government will make in this regard, we are hopeful that they will also allocate money to fund BIM implementation programmes. We are ready. Beyond the expectations from the government, in our business plans for 2023 we include a significant percentage of spending on digitisation, especially BIM, but not only. We started talking in the winter of 2020 about robotisation, but the pandemic blocked us for three years on this project. We are resuming from 2023 market and opportunity analysis on this topic.
- What objectives have you set at Multinvest Group level for the coming years?
- The main objective is not to stop growing, even if it will be minimal. We operate on the principle that stagnation is not an option and if there is no growth, there is automatically contraction and falling behind. From another point of view, we are looking at diversifying our services in the coming years, of course always keeping an eye on market developments, i.e. to change the share of certain areas in the group's service portfolio. We will continue to invest in human resources, but with a focus on increasing efficiency, qualification and quality of work, without increasing the number of staff. Staff movement will be oriented towards replacing those with lower skills and capacity. Beyond all this, we have a very good team, with whom we have gone through the pandemic and will go through the next difficult periods. Overall, we have confidence in ourselves and our people and we are ready for the coming years.