TURKEY IN UKRAINE

INTERVIEW: Turkish-based company Onur Group is playing a key role in Ukraine's ambitious infrastructure upgrade

Over the past 17 years, Turkish-based Onur Group has been behind for some of Ukraine’s most important infrastructure upgrades. Onur Group Ukraine General Coordinator Emre Karaahmetoglu spoke to Business Ukraine magazine about the company’s commitment to Ukraine and his ambitious plans for further expansion.

INTERVIEW: Turkish-based company Onur Group is playing a key role in Ukraine's ambitious infrastructure upgrade
Construction of a new bridge across the Dnipro River in Zaporizhia is one of the largest projects in the current portfolio of Onur Group Ukraine
Business Ukraine magazine
Wednesday, 24 November 2021 18:51

Onur Group Ukraine more than doubled its annual revenues in 2020 to UAH 24.4 billion compared to UAH 10.6 billion in 2019. What are the key factors that led to this impressive result?

Properly organized work, team structure, and the logistics of materials are always the keys to increasing revenues. Onur Group is an international company that has been specializing in the construction of roads, dams, bridges and airports in a range of different countries for more than 40 years. We have been operating in Ukraine since 2004 with a steadily expanding presence. During this time, the company has implemented hundreds of infrastructure projects and built more than 3,500km of roads throughout Ukraine.

Over the past two years, our team has engaged in large volumes of work across Ukraine within the framework of the Big Construction program. We have been gradually working towards this for some time. This helped prepare us for the kind of large-scale tasks envisioned by the Big Construction program and enabled us to increase our presence in terms of equipment, facilities, and employees.

 

Onur Group has been operating in Ukraine since 2004. Which projects stand out as milestones?

It goes without saying that every project is important and valuable. However, if I must single out a few particular projects from our portfolio, I would identify the construction of bridges across the Dnipro River and Staryi Dnipro River in Zaporizhia; the construction of the Kyiv–Chop, Dnipro–Reshetylivka, and Kyiv–Kharkiv– Dovzhanskyi highways; and the Output and Performance-Based Road Contract (OPRC) for the maintenance and repair of a 187km sector of the Kyiv-Chop highway, which is a unique project in Ukraine.

 

Onur is often credited with helping transform Ukraine’s road network and setting new standards following decades of neglect. What are the secrets behind Onur’s positive reputation in Ukraine?

Quality and innovation are the core values of Onur Group. This helped us take ninety-second place among the Top 250 International Contractors and feature on the Top 250

Global Contractors list for 2021 according to American magazine Engineering News-Record’s authoritative annual rankings. Onur Group also occupied twenty-third position in a recent rating of the country’s largest companies compiled by Forbes Ukraine.

Our main advantages are our highly qualified team, extensive experience in the road construction sector, and access to the latest technologies. In order to build high quality roads, we invest in international experience and knowledge. This is our image. It is vital that people like the product we create. After all, we work for the public. We treat each new project as a major responsibility. This leads to positive results.

 

During your 17 years in Ukraine, ONUR has expanded into a wide range of new sectors. What is Onur’s current portfolio of activities in Ukraine?

We live in Ukraine. We love it here and we understand the specifics of the country very well. For those who do not live in Ukraine, it may be more difficult to appreciate the current realities and identify the best opportunities to invest. We have already made significant investments into the agricultural sector, renewable energy, and the woodworking industry. More recently, we have been actively investing in minerals. Plans are in place for investments into the real estate sector and tourism.

Ukraine is constantly developing as a country and becoming a more interesting investment proposition for the international community. There are a wide range of sectors that still need to be developed. We always pay attention to these opportunities and plan to continue making further investments in new areas.

 

Onur Group operates in a number of countries around the world. What is Ukraine’s current position in the Group’s global activities?

Onur Group is an international company that has extensive experience around the world. Ukraine actually occupies first place at Onur Group this year in terms of overall work volumes. At the same time, we continue to work actively in Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Moldova.

 

One of the most high-profile current projects undertaken by Onur Group in Ukraine is the bridge in Zaporizhia across the Dnipro. What technical problems did this project pose and what are your expectations for the completion of the bridge?

This project is the largest infrastructure object in the country and one of the most ambitious tasks taken on by our team. Ukrainians in general and the population of the Zaporizhia in particular have been waiting for this bridge for many years. When Onur Group began work on the project, it was an unfinished object that required completion. Based on our experience, I can confirm that it is sometimes better to begin construction from scratch.

Luckily, the Onur Group team has built a number of major bridges in different countries and we have very valuable international experience. In order to take advantage of this experience, we brought together around 800 specialists to work on this project. They are engaged around the clock and are producing fantastic results. We face fresh challenges on a daily basis but always manage to find effective solutions. For example, in order to install beams weighing more than 780 tons, we used Europe’s most powerful floating crane.

The Zaporizhia project features two bridges: a beam bridge across the Staryi Dnipro River which will lead from Khortytsia Island to Baburka district, and a cable-stayed bridge connecting Khortytsia Island to the center of Zaporizhia. Once completed, this second bridge will be the highest in Ukraine and the eighth tallest in Europe. These bridges will result in significant improvements to traffic flow in the city while relieving pressure on nearby highways. This will provide an economic boost to the wider region and the entire country.

 

Ukraine is currently undergoing a nationwide modernization process, which includes a significant construction component ranging from new roads and bridges to the reconstruction of ports and regional airports. What opportunities does this open up for Onur in Ukraine and how does it affect your future plans?

We always focus on operating efficiently and efficiently, regardless of the wider conditions where we are active. We live in Ukraine, raise our children here, and want to give this country the highest quality results. Onur Group currently has about 140 active projects underway in Ukraine. Our team consists of 6,500 people and 90-95% of our employees are Ukrainians. In 2020, we paid UAH 720 million in taxes to the Ukrainian state budget.

Our plan is simple. We intend to continue working efficiently and effectively for Ukraine. In addition to our daily work, we implement a wide range of social projects in Ukraine. For example, we regularly provide support to doctors, hospitals, and schools. We also actively back the development of sports in Ukraine. This includes organizing the largest cycling race in the country, the Tour de Onur. After all, life is not just about working hard and generating profits. It is also important to run a socially responsible business that works for the wider benefit of society.

 

As an international company with a strong presence in Ukraine, what advice would you give to other international companies or investors who might be thinking of entering the Ukrainian market?

The most important thing is to love your work and to do it efficiently. It also helps to love and respect the country where you work. Take care of the end user and protect your reputation. You need to take responsibility at every stage of your work. Only then can you count on positive results.


About the interviewee: Emre Karaahmetoglu is the General Coordinator of Onur Group Ukraine

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