Aruba is a small island, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t big things going on there, as Albo Aruba N.V. can attest. As the leading general contractor on the island, Albo Aruba handles a wide variety of projects under conditions that most contractors working on the mainland would consider extremely difficult. Despite the challenges created by working on the island, Albo Aruba has proven itself more than capable of rising to meet them and producing quality projects.
“Albo Aruba is known for its quality work that can stand the test of time,” Managing Director Folkert G. van der Woude says. “Whenever a prospective developer is interested in building complex projects, Albo is approached to do the job.”
The company was founded in 1980 out of the merger of Albo Bonaire N.V. and Bonbocemi N.V., which had worked on the island of Bonaire in the Netherlands Antilles and completed a hotel school building project on Aruba together in 1982. Over the years, Albo Aruba has developed a portfolio of projects that includes projects in the hospitality, utility, residential and commercial sectors. According to van der Woude, the company’s work includes public and private projects, and range in size from $100,000 to more than $25 million.
“From the moment Albo Aruba N.V. was founded, the company quickly grew to become one of the largest independent construction companies on Aruba,” van der Woude says.
Working on the island provides Albo Aruba’s employees with some impressive backdrops for their work, but from a practical standpoint it means the company has to work harder than its colleagues on the mainland. “To complete a project in time in a small country like Aruba is no simple matter,” van der Woude says. “Albo Aruba N.V. is dependent mostly on foreign suppliers, shipping companies, etc., for the supply of its materials. Therefore, the company pays close attention to logistics and the preparation of a project.”
Because it relies so heavily on outside sources, van der Woude says Albo Aruba needs to have a strong network of suppliers, and he credits them with much of the company’s success to date. “Over the years, Albo Aruba N.V. has built a complete network of reliable suppliers in America as well as Europe,” he says.
Albo Aruba has to rely on outside suppliers to help it meet deadlines, but its relatively isolated locale also means the company has to be more self-reliant than contractors working elsewhere would have to be. “Albo has the ability to perform most of the construction work itself because of the materials it owns, which consequently means that the cost for projects can remain at an acceptable level,” van der Woude says. “Since Albo shares its offices with sister company Aruba Road Construction, Albo is always able to keep the entire project within the company’s having [Aruba Road Construction] taking care of the infrastructure on the various projects.”
Even though the island is comparatively remote and removed from the modern world, it is by no means immune from the challenges being faced by the rest of the construction industry. “At the moment, due to the worldwide economic recession, it has become a challenge to retain our position in the market,” van der Woude says. “Not too many project developers are willing to invest.”
However, thanks to Albo Aruba’s reputation and dedication to quality, the company has managed to keep busy. Its recent projects include the renovation of Radisson Hotel Aruba’s Bonaire and Curacao towers. Aruba’s oil refinery recently reopened after a period of inactivity, and Albo Aruba was tapped to provide maintenance services to the facility, van der Woude says. The last several months have not been without challenges for the company, however.
“Some 60 percent of the employees had to be laid off, but hopefully when the economy picks up again, Albo will be able to rehire these craftsmen in order to keep the high standard of work within the company up to the level by which Albo has become known,” van der Woude says.
Albo Aruba is in experienced hands with van der Woude at the helm. He has served as managing director of the company since 2006, but before then he served as a superintendent, project manager and assistant managing director with the company, beginning in 1980.
Before settling in the Caribbean, van der Woude was an office engineer for a company based in Dubai. His father owned construction companies in Curacao and Aruba. The experience of van der Woude, combined with the long history Albo Aruba has on the island, means the company is confident about its prospects. “Because of its more than 30 years of existence and the diminutive size of Aruba, Albo is in close contact with all the major businesses as well as the government, the utilities companies and the refinery,” van der Woude says.