In line with its Europe 2016 Strategy, and also forging ahead with efforts to pursue additional major prospects in Germany, Hill International has recently opened a project management office in Frankfurt. “We already have three projects on the ground [in Germany] and our aim will be to increase the business manifold and establish ourselves as the PM firm of choice in the German market”, said Dean Sollors, the newly appointed country manager. To start with, Hill’s current projects in Germany include implementation of the defensive maintenance program in Blackstone’s MesseTurm Tower in Frankfurt, an office/commercial asset at Friedrich Strausse in Dusseldorf and the refurbishment of a five-star hotel in Cologne for the luxury hotel operator Steigenberger hotels and resorts. In addition, Hill has also seconded procurement managers to Teva Pharma and Novartis to support implementation of expansions and renovations to their respective facilities.
Setting up the new Frankfurt office follows Hill’s history of offering claims consulting services for 15 years in Munich and Hamburg. For its project management business, Hill’s main focus will be on the commercial, hospitality, pharmaceutical, and industrial sectors, with a close eye on opportunities in the residential, highway/bridge and infrastructure areas, he said. The current influx of refugees from the Middle East will also result in the need for programs to construct new housing and related support facilities, Sollors said. Dean Sollors joined Hill International from Deutsche Bank’s corporate real estate department, where his roles included Head of Projects for Central and Eastern Europe and project director for the Frankfurt area accommodation strategy. Prior to Deutsche Bank, Sollors ran Arup’s project management business in Germany, having joined the construction industry in Toronto with Ellis Don Construction. With a Bachelor of Applied Science (Honors) in Civil Engineering, International Studies Option from the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, he is an accomplished team leader with 19 years management experience in the real estate and construction industry with an emphasis on general contracting, consulting and corporate real estate management. Sollors has worked on several iconic projects in Canada, Germany, Central and Eastern Europe that he will now be bringing to Hill International in Germany.
“The German economy has been characterized by stable, moderate growth for many years now, with a healthy fiscal base and solid performance in nearly all sectors,” he said. “Its strong industrial base generates an ongoing demand for construction services, and the moderate real estate climate makes it an attractive investment environment for both domestic and international investors.” Although the local project management market is mature, the experience has been that many international clients in Germany favor a more flexible approach to project delivery than they are used to seeing from the major local players. In addition, the construction industry is operating at capacity, so with Hill’s strong client network the company is well-positioned to support local project delivery. “Conversely, we’ll be better able to serve our clients’ investment activities abroad now that we are in Germany,” Sollors said, noting in the longer term his ambition is build a professional team of project managers and consultants with a Germany-wide delivery capability. “Our initial focus will be on our existing client network. However, in the medium term I would like to see us successfully competing with the local players,” he said.
The focus on Germany will be part of an overall effort by Hill International to increase its geographical footprint further in Western Europe to include Poland, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. At the top of Hill’s European list is the UK where investing for the future and building new and exciting delivery services are the cornerstone of Hill’s corporate successful strategy which includes the ability to make sound value judgements, have them ratified and then move quickly, with the focus on sustainable growth. Hill’s leadership has been watching the UK and European markets for many years and viewed that the time was right to build on our current business footprint and create a new and exciting pan-European practice whose growth was centered around the increasing number of significant infrastructure and property related programs and projects coming to market. In Poland, the neighboring market to Germany, where Hill International retains a large team of about 100 professionals, three significant projects are already in hand (two shopping centers in Warsaw and the Wood project in Wroclaw) with that count expected to grow further. In Switzerland, Hill has the contract to provide program management services for renovation of the UN Headquarters Building in Geneva, while in Brussels, Belgium, the company has just been formally awarded a contract for the Astro Tower renovation contract with an Asian investor as a client. Standing at some 107 meters, it is one of the tallest towers in Belgium, first built in the late 1970s.
Four months into 2016, Hill International’s Europe strategy is already yielding results. While final word is awaited on major ‘framework contracts” in the UK, new awards have been received in Spain, Belgium, Germany, Serbia and Turkey and the CIS States. Now, the expectation is that several more will follow.
By Ashok Dutta