Cor de Groot, the general manager of Global Group, has plenty of Dutch courage. The current downturn doesn’t scare him and he has a very ambitious target on his agenda: to double or even triple his company’s turnover in the coming years.
By Anda Dragan
Cor de Groot came to Romania for the first time in 1991 as an employee of a multinational company which specialized in relocating embassies. Four years later, the board made him branch manager, as which he was responsible for the company’s operations in Romania. From that position he soon discovered various frauds that were being perpetrated within the organization, and so in 1996 decided to set up his own relocation company, which he named Global Relocation. He started the business with just one employee and a 7.5-ton truck, which was bought by leasing with help from his father. The initial investment was about EUR 20,000. Soon, de Groot became the local representative of one of the best-known relocation companies in Europe. In 2006 he also won his first international customer.
“Things were different in Romania at that time, from many perspectives. Romania was the land of all possibilities and business opportunities were numerous,” remembers de Groot of the business environment in the 1990s. But he didn’t stop there. Visiting the United States, the Dutchman spotted a business model that grabbed his attention: document storage. In 2001, back in Romania, he set up an enterprise based on it: Global Archive Management. The investment in this business line was about EUR 70,000. From 2001-2006 this division reached a turnover of about EUR 1 million.
Establishing a partnership in 2006 with two investors from the Netherlands was one of the most important steps in his business. The purpose was to ensure an easier way to develop and take the company to the next level. One year later, the three businesspeople invested almost EUR 1 million to buy a site outside Bucharest on which to build a warehouse. But 2006 was also the moment when the company became Global Group, integrating the operations of Global Relocation and Global Archive Management.
“In practice I wasn’t exposed to any risk because all of those taken were carefully calculated beforehand. That’s why I wasn’t afraid of anything specific,” says the entrepreneur. He adds that he has made a lot of mistakes during his time in Romania, of which the biggest was not choosing some business partners with similar backgrounds and shared values. “When money became abundant, it started the madness of expenses too,” adds de Groot.
“Etiquette” is one of the most important things for an entrepreneur, whether he or she is running a start-up or a mature company. To be a person of honor in the business world is of paramount importance. “Keeping your word is a must in this business. In my opinion, to keep a promise is crucial. It means to operate properly and not cheat your customer,” says the businessman. Furthermore, employees are of great import for any enterprise, so how an employer chooses to deal with them can be a crucial matter.
“How you treat your employees is a big issue. They are not there simply to be at your disposal; they have different personalities and should be treated as such,” says de Groot.
Like many niches on the local scene, the segment on which Global Group is active is a crowded one. The good news is that not all its competitors are big. “Obviously there is competition on our market but there are also small companies, some of which generally work under the counter,” says the country manager of Global Group. In his opinion, his firm has a key advantage: it is able to relocate a business in a couple of days due to its capacity. “A small relocation company can’t relocate an office with over 400 employees in a weekend alone. And I think this is what differentiates us from the crowd,” he says. According to de Groot, the company’s market share is currently about 30 percent.
The crisis has also hit Global Group, and the firm has had to cut costs by freezing salaries. “But this happens constantly, at the beginning of every year,” he says. Increasing the efficiency and swiftness of operational processes through the optimal planning of activities are among the cost optimization measures the business has implemented.
As for the future, de Groot is optimistic and expects to double or even triple Global Group’s turnover. “We will probably acquire a relocation and document storage company this year in order to develop the business. We also intend to build a new storage document warehouse and our own office building in Magurele, with an investment of over EUR 1 million,” says the businessman. This new launch involves IT software which is the result of an investment made by a third Dutch investor who became an associate in the company two years ago.
According to de Groot, almost 200 customers use Global Group office relocations services annually, many of which are banks. But the current crisis has diversified the company’s service portfolio: it is now offering relocation services for individuals.