Ambitious Kosovar Firm Ready for American Partners

 Sitting down with OXA Group’s Executive Director, Naser Hoxha and CMO, Valon Gashi, we settled rapidly on the realization that this conversation was not a nostalgic look back for the high-end furniture maker but one which spoke towards global ambition and a desire for something great. Now this does stray from the archetypal interview but ambition knows no status-quo. This also means they are progressive and in turn means they help the profile of Kosovo as it too strives for a future in the international community. Indeed, they are an ambassador by default.

They’ve achieved a western standard of operation with management skills paralleling the former. It also doesn’t hurt that top management possesses an English proficiency that most American’s only wish they had for a second language. But of course, English represents the world’s de-facto tongue and spoils those that are native and drives those that aren’t to seek out its benefits. It appears that is precisely what OXA Group is doing for their entire business. Taking their six businesses to a level well beyond their Ferizaj, Kosovo headquarters with a keen eye on international expansion and developing American partnerships.

It is one thing to have desire but it’s an entirely different thing to pursue that desire, successfully. As most Americans know this all starts with a clear vision, the next step beyond desire. When perusing some corporate literature one thing stood out that tends to resonate with the business community in the US, entrepreneurialism through teamwork: This attitude may seem common place for those in the Western world but it is not in the transitional world; which makes them unique in their approach on how to do business, which ultimately lends credence to an ideal partner’s profile. Any foreign investor understands the cost savings benefits of operating in a transitional market; they also know that in order to enjoy said benefits you need a local partner with an aligned mindset. OXA appears to be a good option. Make no mistake though, we are not simply speaking of business ideology, what and where they do business is just as enticing. OXA Group have cut their teeth and are making a name for themselves in Western markets spanning from Spain to Switzerland, countries everyone is familiar with. That association should yield some degree of confidence. To augment the case further let us take a moment to hear from the top brass themselves on what they can offer the international investor:

Executive Director: Mr. Naser Hoxha

 

Your company came highly recommended. However, when initially introduced to your firm we had the impression it was only one company. Please go into a littlemore detail on OXA Group and your origins.

The roots of OXA Group were established 50 years ago through my father who dealt in gold jewelry. After the war we started in real estate and in 2005 we privatized a wood processing company which previously exported to the US in the 1970-80s. From there we began to expand into different businesses within the wood industry, namely high-end furniture production, as well as construction and asset management. As you’ll see, furniture production represents the bulk of our group’s businesses. We have our contract furniture company TEDES, solid wood furniture production [Tefik Canga], bedroom furniture [DECO] and a sofa company [Divani].

Let’s expand on that for a moment. Specifically, what businesses are your mainstay operations and the future of OXA Group?

We are focused on our furniture business and investing in capacities. We have Tefik Canga which is the largest woodworking factory in the Balkans but in general all our businesses are doing well with TEDES acting as the fastest growing business, especially in the international market. With that business alone we’ve conducted projects in Switzerland, Macedonia, Serbia and now we are very active in Germany and Spain as well.

So when you mention developing further capacities in order to grow shall I assume that means through TEDES?     

Yes. Up until two years ago TEDES was a department within Tefik Canga which we separated into its own business when seeing its growth pattern. Now, in order to fulfill various client projects, TEDES sources through our other three manufacturing facilities. So naturally when we expand capacities in those plants we are expanding TEDES potential as well.

What are some of the challenges that exist in Kosovo today?

The small domestic market is one of the biggest but also customs and a lack of highly skilled professionals in some fields. Regarding the latter, there are some professional schools but not at the level we need. In order to address this we have to do in-house training.

 

On the other hand, since we deeply understand the variables in navigating the domestic market, there is a huge opportunity for foreign furniture manufacturers to outsource their work to OXA. We have already proven our standards in some Western markets and are more than ready to partner with any international company, especially American partners, in the wood processing arena.

 

You are doing projects outside Kosovo as we already established, and of course previously in the US as well. Are you currently pursuing more far reaching markets?

We are working on the growing demand that exists in Europe. However, regarding the US, Kosovo has a unique status with them in the form of a 0% tariff. Naturally, that lends an advantage to companies here interested in entering that market. As such, we always have a strong desire to go there but first we need to have the additional capacities in which to service it. I think we are getting there, we have the latest software for resource planning (ERP) that is geared towards larger projects, we are just looking for the opportunity.

We are also in the process of forming a joint-venture in Switzerland with a Korean company to do a construction project in South Korea. We hope to finalize everything in the next month. As you can see, we are hoping to go international. We are preparing and looking for the right opportunities.

OXA Group seems to be very ambitious and certainly that is something many Americans can relate too. If you would, offer up your personal perspective on Kosovo and its future.

Very simply, we are a talented and young country and hungry for something more, especially here in Ferizaj where we have a lot of people that worked for US companies. In fact, there are over 1,000 people here who are involved in projects in the Middle East in conjunction with the US Government [Note: US Military Base is located in Ferizaj]. There are so many in this regard that when we were looking for great talent for our Korean project we had much more than we needed. These locals learned from the best and are top-notch project managers.

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