“We are never afraid of doing new things,” says Anthousa Lim A. Po, COO at Kiesel. “When an architect or engineer comes with a new idea, we look for a solution, we think out of the box. That is one of our strongest points as a company.” Since the Lim A. Po siblings took over the company 36 years ago, Kiesel has expanded significantly, contributing some of the largest and most iconic modern buildings in Suriname, like the Royal Torarica and Hamada hotels, the National Archive or the Integra Marine, the tallest building in the country. “We are very proud of these bigger projects,” says Lim A. Po and her brother, Shaun Lim Po, Kiesel’s recently appointed Managing Director.
This innovative perspective has been emphasized in the past years, when a generational shift of the Lim A Po family started bringing new ideas into the business. “At Kiesel, the next generation is already on the seats. We keep up to date with the latest developments in the construction market so we are always ready for new investors, “says Lim A Po.
Another key to their success is their absolute adherence to highest quality standards. In 2009, Kiesel became the first ISO-certified construction company in Suriname, and in 2011 it introduced the CHESS certificate, the Caribbean Health Environment and Safety Standards, further elevating the industry’s requirements. “The quality we deliver is the quality we stand for,” says Lim A Po proudly. “Most of our materials are imported from Europe or the US. We never go for less quality, even if that means reducing our margins. We tend to be the best and we try to stay the best.”
Currently, Kiesel has over 100 direct employees, 200 subcontractors and an annual growth of almost 20 per cent. It is the only construction company with its own aluminum specialised department, Alupro, a subsidiary that provides all required aluminum products for its projects and the wider market. “Having our own aluminum gives us a positive margin over other construction companies that have to outsource it,” says Lim A. Po.
Among its latest projects are Heineken’s new facilities in Suriname, which are to be delivered late 2022, as well as government-owned buildings financed by the International Development Bank. “We usually get these types of projects because we are one of the few companies that comply with all the international standards such organizations require. That gives us a competitive advantage,” explains Lim A. Po.
In the future, Kiesel aims to keep expanding in order to bring more added value to the company. It is working on new office buildings and storage facilities, expected to be delivered in the next months, and looks to expand into different construction areas like electric and water installations. “We are always open to specialised investors who want to start new departments that add value to the construction company and help us both grow,” says Lim A. Po.
With oil and gas developments on the horizon, Kiesel is ready to demonstrate why it is the best option for international investors. “We give our clients a complete, one stop-shop package. We provide the engineers, architects, builders and materials so everything stays within one group, it is easier to communicate and get better prices,” says Lim A Po. Above all, they know that attracting investors is a matter of trust. As her brother, Shaun Lim A. Po says, “To work in a new country you need a trustworthy partner. We have the local know-how, the certifications and the experience to do new things here.”
Surgoed: Suriname’s pioneering real estate company
“We were the first to start a real estate company, we structured the market and we continue innovating. That is why we are still the largest agency in the country,” says Thijs Mouchart, CEO and owner of Surgoed. Its success is a testament to its owner’s acute business vision and perseverance. Surgoed started in 2009 after Mouchart moved back to Suriname and had to find a house to live in. “I realised the real estate market was not structured at all and I saw an opportunity there,” says Mouchart.
Today, Surgoed has around 50 per cent of the country’s market share and offers a complete service covering all areas of the real estate business, from selling and renting houses, lots and buildings to doing real estate appraisals and giving advice. To ensure visibility, it has multiple advertisement channels, like its website, newsletter, social media, TV shows and its own Surgoed real estate magazine, distributed in Suriname and the Netherlands. “We are always looking for better opportunities to expose our client’s properties and the services we offer. As a result, we have sold thousands of houses in the last years.”
Surgoed also builds, renovates and maintains real estate properties using the highest quality workmanship and materials. It treats each project individually, adapting it to their client’s wishes and needs and involving them in all stages of the process. “We saw there was a lack of good, modern housing in the market, so we started developing them,” he says. “Right now, we are building high-end houses all around Suriname and the growth continues. There are really big opportunities in the real estate market here.”
It is currently developing a new app so clients can pitch their properties directly through its platform. “We want to make it very easy for the Surinamese people to have access to our company. We will be the first real estate agency with an app in the country, we have a big presence in social media and we are making our own real estate videos using drones. We are always one step ahead.”
In 2022, Surgoed is developing some big construction projects and expects to reach at least 20 per cent annual growth. Above all, it aims to keep innovating and profiting from the numerous possibilities the Surinamese real estate market has to offer. Thus, they are open to new investors and partnerships who see the potential and are willing to invest in Suriname. Like Surgoed’s CEO says, “Sometimes friends from abroad ask me why I am still in Suriname. The answer is simple. There are good opportunities over here.”
By GN Focus Report