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Executing projects in an eco-friendly way

Interview - April 1, 2014
Front Gate is an interior design and construction firm which aims to create the perfect working or living environment using the most modern and eco-conscious materials and standards. Some of its most prestigious international clients in Mongolia include Pepsi, Standard Chartered Bank, Anglo American, and the World Bank. Front Gate is looking for international partners to help us to continue to expand our portfolio of satisfied clients. CEO and architect, Ms A. Tsengelmaa, speaks to Untied World about the company
Mongolia is going through a very exciting time of constant growth and the country is changing so fast. More buildings, more roads, more infrastructure and development plan. Can you speak about your position in real estate sector in the last five years?

It is changing very rapidly. A new government was formed when the country became a democratic country. During socialist times, I was a child. Business at that time and business now are totally different. The country has prepared itself for development and in the last 5 years, the government, private and public sector have seen lots of growth. 
In terms of your sector, how is it changing? Why did you decide to establish this company? 

I went to the first paid-school when the country transitioned into a market economy. I majored in architecture in Mongolia and secondly, when I worked for the MSC Group, which defines the development of the country, I worked in the real estate sector and did lots of construction projects. I joined the MCS group when I was 25 years old. I’m very grateful to the management of the MCS group as at that time, I was granted to work on the Coca Cola project in Mongolia. 
Looking at Front Gate, what is your vision? I have seen that the company has developed so many projects. Where do you want to take this company next? How has the company evolved since you established it 6 years ago?

Generally, my husband gave me the idea to establish my current company. When I established the company, the first idea was to execute quality projects in this sector as every project MCS Group works on was in accordance with international standards. In the future, we will continue executing luxury-level projects and expand our operations into large-scale construction sectors.

The construction sector raw materials are not very well known in the market of Mongolia, thus our third plan is to have our raw materials known to the market. In terms of construction projects, we are focusing on doing the management of construction projects, including human resources and engineering, strengthening the project management side of the company and at the same time the company’s main operations – interior design, which covers IT, security, internal design etc – which creates the luxury level projects. Thus our purpose would be to work on large-scale projects as a project manager. 
Do you work with any other companies for the service provided to construction companies here? 

We cooperate with other companies of course. When we execute the project, we look at what other companies can do at a specific project and cooperate with the one that is most specialized in that field. We have our own interior design employees, such as a carpenter. 
Obviously with construction projects that need a lot of capital, I’m wondering whether you are working with other companies here in terms of financing these projects? 

Up until today, I haven’t had a partner in terms of financing. In the next few years, we are thinking of working on one project and getting an investment from a Chinese company. By ourselves, we signed on the first-stage document: a cooperation memorandum in order to receive an investment from Spain. This is a concession agreement to break down the old building and build a new one and we are looking for an investor on a 3 to 5 year project.
What is the focus of Front Gate, how can you contribute to the environmental preservation through more efficient or more environmentally friendly technology?

All the raw materials we use when executing a project are high standard materials in terms of health, for example, we don't use paint that is harmful to health. In this sense, as I mentioned before, we need to make our products well known in both urban and rural areas. It is a little more expensive but a lot better quality. Thus, we think we are already an eco-company. In Mongolia, we don’t reuse the water especially in construction projects. When I was working on a large project last year, I conducted some research in water-usage. Thus I will consider using re-used water when I work on large-scale projects in the future. 
It seems that, when I looked at projects being executed in other countries, the project itself has its own electricity, water-cleaning supply, whilst in Ulaanbaatar; only one main water cleaning facility exists. I’m thinking of working on this side more. 

I understand you already have worked on other projects in other countries, for example in Greece. Do you have any other projects coming up internationally? 

At this moment, we don’t have any projects. The new investment law was approved last year and foreign companies are now in a hold-and-wait state. I think this might be having an effect. The law is amended now and foreign companies will probably have more interest in Mongolia. 

When will your first project be ready for these luxury apartments? When will you have them ready by? 

It is my personal view to continue construction projects during winter time without stopping. I have almost found a way to do so. We will implement this method: construct in a short time and open in a short time. But how hard we tried, we are not executing our project in a year, it usually continues for 2 years. Unless we get stuck at the financing, constriction, we will be done quite fast.  One example, the building of the Trade and Development Bank was constructed within 2 years. 
Obviously, the luxury apartment sector is very competitive. I was reading a newspaper, which said that the sales of luxury apartments keep going up and up. Why Front Gate? What should readers know about your company that sets you apart from the rest?

Ms. Tsengelmaa: First of all, we execute our projects in an eco-friendly way. Secondly, in the last few years, the construction sector is consuming more and more luxury products and based on our cooperation with international companies, we will deliver more quality products. 
Perhaps this is the final question, what you think the readers in the US should take away from our reports about Mongolia? What should they know about Mongolia?

The construction sector in Mongolia is developing to an international level, constructing high-floor towers and even producing the raw material. Even though lots of things have changed in the last 5 years, we are racing with ‘time’. The sector is experiencing progress in every part of it. Like the market, our company is developing the same, learning from the international market. Our company has partners from France, the UK, Turkey and China and participates in international fairs. Our company progresses through all these information and networks.

The main idea I’m saying is that we are racing with ‘time’ towards an international standard. And I would like to say Mongolia is a developing country and we are open to any partnership and collaboration. And I want to say that in such a rapidly progressing environment, Mongolian employees and engineers are getting more valued, like international experts. 
The main advantage of working on international projects is that by cooperating with an international project management team, they teach us the modern technologies and materials used in the field. I’m proud of our team.