bim.GROUP, our strategic partner takes the direction to external markets - interview with Zsolt Ballay in Magyar Építők

bim.GROUP, our strategic partner takes the direction to external markets - interview with Zsolt Ballay in Magyar Építők

bim.Group, an independent design office, the strategic partner of KÉSZ GROUP participating also in the works of Hungexpo and the Museum of Transport closed a successful year. The company extends its portfolio towards external markets and seeks further partners as specialized designers among others in Norway and Germany. We talked about the situation of the industry, the international expectations, sustainability and challenges with the company manager of bim.GROUP.

How the 2021 year of bim.GROUP turned out? What projects were you the most proud of?

Last year was the year of expansion at bim.GROUP: our portfolio has increased by 25 per cent and it is a special pleasure to us – and, I think, it is a curiosity on the market – that our labor force retention ability is very strong. On the whole, the epidemic did not hinder us, our sales revenue has become one and a half times more than in 2020 and it increased to nearly 3 billion forints.

Fortunately, we had numerous interesting and challenging projects, of which I would highlight our design activity performed in the Science Park in Szeged, in the Jedlik Ányos Secondary Grammar School, the Museam of Transport and the National Athletics Stadium.

The reconstructed Hungexpo building was also handed over last year, of which we are also were proud. Besides the steel roof structure of 4,500 tons of the multinational hall in Budapest was designed also by our engineers.

To what extent the industry is affected by logistic difficulties, the problems of the supply chains and the price increase in basic materials occurred as a consequence of the coronavirus epidemic?

As an independent general design office, these affected us to a much less extent than construction projects were affected. The epidemic has been with us for several years, so the challenges arising from it have been integrated into the processes and our everyday industrial operation has also transformed: we have switched over to a hybrid-type performance of work, our colleagues work in rotation in the office. As we work with a great number of software, one of the important steps in the company's life was introduction of cloud-based systems. The next task will be cloud-based data storage to enable our employees to connect us from anywhere.

The company's name has changed from Bim Design to bim.GROUP. Why did you decide to change your name?

The image change of bim.GROUP started in 2021 and this rebranding process is still in progress. Our new website will be available within a few days and our image video of unique quality in the sector can already be viewed, i.e. we have renewed both in respect of visual elements and the message represented by the company.

The change of name was connected also to this. It means some kind of a change of attitude in our operation. We have recognized how big a role marketing has in successes.

The company is one of the 49 domestic companies which were awarded a support in the competition of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and HEPA Hungarian Export Promotion Agency. What are your most important objectives in foreign market expansion? In what regions and countries do you expand?

Really, we wish to use this support to establish our expansion in the neighboring countries and on the Western European market. The target companies include Romania, Serbia, Germany and Norway. Otherwise it is assisted also by our marketing activity performed on external markets. Our image video mentioned above was made accordingly: we would have liked to have a short movie that reflects well how we in bim.GROUP think of the process of designing: we turn to the most complex design works with engineering precision and artistic creativity. I think I could present what we mean under Art of Engineering. In any case, we do not appear in these countries as a main contractor but we seek further partners we can work with. We believe that there is a considerable demand for our specialized design capacity, i.e. for supporting structure and covering design, which enables us to enter these markets.

In what international projects did you participate with foreign partners? How different the expectations of foreign customers from those of Hungarian ones?

As I have mentioned, first of all we have used our specialized designing ability also till now, so we had first of all works connected with covering design and steel structure design.

For example, in Germany we designed the supporting structures of power plants and in Serbia we performed steel structure design for an oil company. In Norway design of the covering of Kistefos museum is an important reference for us. For this building awarded also a prize, twisted geometry crosses the river as a bridge and we have prepared a unique covering on it from metal sheets.

We worked also in Hungary in an international environment through a cross-border investor and design team. Of our projects implemented in Hungary I would like to underline our participation in the design of the National Athletics Stadium and the National Museum of Transport.

In international projects the requirements for sustainability are much more higher and the related energy qualifications and the so-called well-being factor of buildings are often reviewed. When entering on the foreign market, the fact that we have the ISO qualification issued by the British Standards Institution, i.e. that our BIM processes can be performed according to those standard, was also an important milestone and this represents a competitive advantage against other companies. Also, we have received the "A" certificate of Dun & Bradstreet information and qualification company that proves our financial stability.

How important an aspect sustainability on the customers' part? Is the situation different on foreign markets?

The rules and requirements become stricter and stricter. We can see that in many cases the state regulations start to pull along investors. For example, in France a decree was issued stating that 50 per cent of the public buildings have to be constructed of renewing basic materials. Construction industry has a lot of tools. A 10-storey office building can be built of wood as well. However - for example in Hungary - sustainability will be soon also a matter of budget because the investment costs are higher, however, on the long run costs could be reduced considerably during operation. So the decision should be made by the customer and we can only propose such solutions. In Hungary energy requirements become continuously stricter and stricter but the way of thinking is rather conservative for the time being. Most companies comply with the requirements expected in the legal environment in force.

Let's go on with this year. What do you expect in 2022?

Our business objective is to keep our sales revenue at a level around 3 billion forints. The volume of our contracts cover already almost the half of it, so we are optimistic. Otherwise our operation is assisted by our wide portfolio and we are working on public buildings, sport and industrial facilities alike.

We have several projects spanning years and giving the skeleton of our this year's capacities but there are several projects in progress in the tendering phase – affecting various fields – in connection with which we are also optimistic.

Otherwise we can see owing to our customers that the development of industrial agglomeration and settlement of the related branches of industry there attract further orders, so we expect further orders in the sector based on our running projects. On the whole, we expect exciting tasks and a successful year.

Külpiacok felé veszi az irányt stratégiai partnerünk, a bim.GROUP - interjú Ballay Zsolttal a Magyar Építőkön