Jelena Andrić Grafakos, Managing Director, ACO Serbia And Montenegro

No Development Without A Clear Vision

Continuous and dedicated work has brought the greatest success to company ACO Serbia and Montenegro, which has been recognised as a professional and reliable partner for resolving the most complicated and demanding water management projects in all areas of construction industry

This company has amassed a series of state-of-the-art projects, the latest and most demanding of which include works on Belgrade’s Republic Square and Savski Square, Nikola Tesla Airport, Imlek’s production plant, residential buildings and the Galerija shopping centre within the Belgrade Waterfront development.

You’ve been with the company for 15 years, from the very beginning in the Serbia and Montenegro markets, while you’ve been at its helm since 2015. What would you single out as the biggest successes, challenges, changes, biggest projects etc.?

Considering the start of the company’s business on our market, from the distance of today it is possible to summarise the entire development path, from brand positioning and formation of the initial team and stock, to the start of market education on the importance of adequate drainage and water treatment. ACO_LOGODuring that time I developed, as an engineer, into a specialist for surface water management, then later took over the management of the company. This brought a completely new perspective, new challenges, but also the opportunity to create a shared vision, together with my growing team, for the further development of the company into one that sets standards and follows the latest trends in the field of water management.

As such, I would single out as the biggest challenge, and also the basis of our work even today -continuous education of the market and raising awareness of the importance of professional cooperation on projects, knowledge of regulations in this area and the implementation of adequate solutions. We have behind us a very long list of state-of-the-art projects in the field of road and urban infrastructure, shopping centres, business and residential buildings, production and logistics centres, hotels and restaurants.

You opened the ACO Academy and showroom, at the end of last year. Can you tell us a little more about that?

The idea to open the ACO Academy in Serbia was born of a desire to provide our associates with even better quality insight into the selection and application of ACO solutions on projects, through a system of presentations and trainings. At the same time, this also gives us an opportunity to learn about the challenges of modern projects from designers, contractors, supervisors and investors, and to work together to come up with the best solutions for each individual project.

Part of the ACO Academy also includes a large showroom with numerous examples of ACO products installed in a real environment. This entire endeavour is the result of the work of our team that worked with dedication on all interior and installation details, so that ACO has a modern training centre for the markets of Serbia and Montenegro that’s similar to the existing one at the company’s headquarters in Germany. In the space of our Academy you can clearly see the connection between industry and art, which is nurtured as one of our company’s values. Unfortunately, our plans for the work of the Academy had to change this year due to the health situation, which is why we secured alternative ways of visiting and gaining insight into ACO solutions, via a virtual 3D tour through the showroom, online presentations, webinars etc.

You’ve complemented your portfolio with segments covering the food industry, commercial kitchens, hotels and residential buildings, while you’ve increased your stock and expanded your team. Are you continuing the further development?

Under the conditions of increasing number of projects in construction industry, and simultaneously shorter deadlines for preparing project documentation and installation – expertise, knowledge and dedicated work are crucial in ensuring the high quality implementation of projects. That’s why we decided to create a segmented approach to the market and projects, in order to pay as much attention as possible to the specifics of each segment. The greatest advantage to this process is provided by the dedicated team that together follows the process of implementing each project from start to finish. Of course, increasing the volume of work also required an increase in the team and stock, as well as creating new processes within the existing organisation.

As construction projects and the construction industry further develop, so will we also adapt our approach, bringing innovation, fresh ideas and professional solutions, with an emphasis on protection of the environment.

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