“60 years of history in a family-owned construction company that has weathered the worst years.”
Is there a secret to keeping a construction company going all these years?
We are a family company, which is sometimes a disadvantage, but if handled well the company/family relationship can be positive. When you have a history, there is a statistic to be analyzed and what you find is that these companies in periods of growth are not the ones that grow the most, but in periods of crisis they are also not the ones that break the most. Maybe because they are more conservative they manage to have a more moderate, but more consistent way of being.
Have you fully recovered from the crisis?
In 2008, when the crisis came, that was the time we looked inward. We are very clear on which regions we can’t have a competitive advantage, for example Eastern Europe, but Europe is part of our ecosystem: we learn in developed countries and export this knowledge to developing countries. If we compare the current period with the previous one, in 2008 we invoiced four times more in Portugal, but globally we are better. 2011 was the worst year, but in 2012 we went from 60 to 160 million euros in international activity (currently about 70% of the group’s turnover is international), thanks to the work that was already going on.
What distinguishes them?
With the crisis we left what had nothing to do with construction. Today we have three areas – engineering/construction; specialties/industry and promotion/asset management and we work a lot with partners. This is a distinctive element.
Is Casais interested in building the new airport?
We would love to participate, in the area of terminal buildings, for example. We have done it in Gibraltar and parts of Belgium.
Any area where you want to grow more?
We want to grow a lot in the industry part.
Have you never taken steps bigger than your legs?
In a way no. Only recently have we entered the public sector, but always cautiously. What moves us is not to make a lot of money and be the biggest. We want to be sustainable. A reference of solidity and knowledge.
Read the full report in the monthly edition of Exame magazine.
Text: Alda Martins
Photos: Lucília Monteiro