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VÁHOSTAV HAS DIVERSIFIED IN CONSTRUCTION FIELDS, NOW BUILDS ITS WAY TO SUCCESS

Q & A with Vojtech Belčák, general director of Váhostav Žilina

Freelance writer Ľubica Sokolíková had an exclusive interview for The Slovak Spectator (TSS) with Vojtech Belčák, the general director of the construction firm Váhostav Žilina. The interview focused on the reasons for Váhostav's recent success, its current projects and future plans.
Váhostav, operating in Slovakia for 40 years, has been a joint stock company since 1992 with a current registered capital of 447 million Sk ($14.9 million). Investment companies and investment funds own 80 percent of the shares with the rest belonging to individual shareholders. The company's employs 3,900 people and their family members own a majority of the shares. The state owns none.
TSS: What would you attribute your recent success to?


Váhostav General Director Vojtech Belčák.

Freelance writer Ľubica Sokolíková had an exclusive interview for The Slovak Spectator (TSS) with Vojtech Belčák, the general director of the construction firm Váhostav Žilina. The interview focused on the reasons for Váhostav's recent success, its current projects and future plans.

Váhostav, operating in Slovakia for 40 years, has been a joint stock company since 1992 with a current registered capital of 447 million Sk ($14.9 million). Investment companies and investment funds own 80 percent of the shares with the rest belonging to individual shareholders. The company's employs 3,900 people and their family members own a majority of the shares. The state owns none.


TSS: What would you attribute your recent success to?

Belčák: "Our positive results in recent years are a reflection of some basic strategic aims that we set back in 1990 and then later in 1992. Our philosophy is namely these:

- not to break but instead strive to maximize the most out of organizational structures approved in the past and adapt them to free market conditions. This would prepare us at any time to take on huge projects demanding a lot of organization and capacity challenges for construction that is needed by each state;

- to diversify our production program into all construction fields. I consider this a very demanding goal;
- to enter foreign markets in various forms of cooperation that could cover a possible stagnation in the domestic construction market;
- to stabilize the creative, managing and executive human resources in our company, who are a guarantee for the firm's constant success.

Of course, there have been other aims over the years which we have fulfilled with varying degrees of success, but I consider these the most important."


TSS: In 1995 Váhostav had a revenue of 3.9 billion Sk ($130 million), three billion Sk ($100 million) less than your competitor Hydrostav. But in 1996 that deficit was significantly cut to one billion Sk ($33 million) with Váhostav pulling in a revenue of 5.2 billion Sk ($173 million). How was Váhostav able to catch-up to Hydrostav so quickly?

Belčák: "First of all, we were not that far from each other in the past. Before, Hydrostav had more major construction projects, so of course they were bigger than our company. In the 90's we both participated in the construction of the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros System of Waterworks (SVD). The fact that we have taken part in the dam construction on the Váh River has helped us a lot. Then we constructed three big water projects: Málinec Water Reservoir, Turček Water Reservoir, and the Žilina Water Scheme. I think we finally 'broke the ice,' when Váhostav penetrated Bratislava. I would like to stress that in diversifying our construction programs, it was vital that we were able to take part in building Bratislava into a new capital in 1993. Bratislava still lacks many of the facilities that any capital should have. So our strategy has been to stand by the development of the capital.

Perhaps our 'alignment' (with Bratislava interests) is from the fact that we went through privatization in a different time and by a different method."


TSS: In 1996 Váhostav worked on VÚB Bank, Žilina Water Scheme, and Gabčíkovo SVD, all massive projects. What new projects are being sought in 1997?


A highway bridge will speed traffic from Poland to Žilina.

Belčák: "Before I answer this question, I would like to add something that is connected with your previous question. We have to realize that the time of huge waterworks construction in Slovakia is coming to an end. Hydro-systems and hydro-energy has already been built up. We have to cope with this fact. Our present challenge is a new "Highway Program."

The biggest projects now is the highway construction in the mountainous terrain of north and northwest Slovakia. It means that construction will be much more demanding on bridges, tunnels and moving huge volumes of earth and rock in difficult geological conditions. There are a lot of projects that we would like to take part in, so we are adapting our program. We have prepared for bridge construction and have established a division for tunnels. We increased our ability to build special bridge foundations as well as building proper foundations on a steep incline or in landslide areas. Our company is equipped with all the most up-to-date machinery.

This year, we are planning another expansion of our activities abroad. We have gained some contracts in Cyprus, and we are starting two projects in Moscow and Kiev. Plus, despite a recession, we are staying in the German market. Our production abroad will represent about 15 to 18 percent of Váhostav's total production in 1997.

We have not neglected improving the environment in Slovakia. In 1996 we finished construction of a water treatment plant in Brezno and Rimavská Sobota. We participate also in the construction of waste dumps for solid urban waste.

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