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Estonian construction firm wins 25 mln EUR deal in Kazakhstan

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Estonian construction company Windoor has signed a contract worth 25 million euros in Kazakhstan to build a glass aluminimum construction for the to-be-built international business and conference centre in the country’s capital Astana.

Mailis Lintlom, the owner of the company, said that she received information about the tender via Estonia’s Foreign Ministry. It took a long time to win the deal as trust had to be built, plus competition from around the world to win this project was tough. The contract was signed right after Estonia’s Prime Minister's visit to Kazakhstan. Lintlom said that the government’s support and friendly relations between the two countries was important to get the deal. Among other arguments, Estonia’s image as an innovative Nordic country was important, plus Estonia’s climate is similar to Kazakhstan's.

The details for the 40,000-square-metres building will be manufactured in Estonia and sent by road to Kazakhstan where the setup will take place. The conference centre will be ready by the beginning of 2015.

According to Lintlom, negotiations with Kazakhstan were quite different when compared to talks with Sweden and Finland. She said political factors and personal gut feelings are more important there, plus many things are not solved in meeting rooms but during dinner and lunch.

Estonian banks will help to finance Windoor to get the contract done, and KredEx credit insurance will cover  the risks. This assistance is vital for such a huge deal.

Windoor had a record turnover last year, and the company turned a profit after 2011 (when the company entered a new market which involved high costs and therefore a loss for the financial year). The Kazakhstan deal will increase the company’s turnover by up to 12 million euros this year and 16 million next year.

Lintlom, who runs a family business, says that the most important challenge is to find good personnel. “We have to find people who are smart, can speak languages and who are able to work under intesive situations,” Lintlom said. Though Windoor pays its employees higher than average salaries, there is still pressure to increase wages. She added that her company can offer other motivational tools, such as innovative and interesting work that the personnel can do.

The Estonian market accounts for 15% of Windoor’s turnover. The most important market is Scandinavia, but also Ukraine. As sceptistim grows about Scandinavia being able to give enough work for the Baltic construction sector, Windoor has made Asia, including Dubai and Azerbaidzhan, its new target area.

Lintlom says a family business has its own advantages – it is easier to make risky decisions. However, she does not rule out that it might be good to include some venture capital at some point.

Source: Stadnik, A. (2013) Hiigelleping Kasahstaniga. Äripäev, 8. oktoober.