Richest Expats: Jerzy Konik

Oct. 8, 2010, 12:50 a.m. | Kyiv Post

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Jerzy Konik, 56
$24 million
#7 Richest
Ukraine found this native of Krakow, Poland, not the other way around.

When a friend asked Jerzy Konik to set up an attractive stand at Kyiv flower show in the late 1980s, the organizers were so impressed they asked him to stay.

In the end, he ended up securing the most flower contracts.


Courtesy photo

A truck farmer by training, Konik soon found that selling flowers in Ukraine paid off better than in Germany and Denmark, where he was mostly engaged.

After Ukraine’s independence, Konik founded Lybid, a decorative flower company, which quickly evolved into Ukraflora, which he sold in 2005 and which today has an estimated 55 percent share of Ukraine’s flower market.
“Today, I could tell you 10 business ideas that I could develop, turn around and sell at a profit.”

- Jerzy Konik.

“I like developing businesses and selling them for a profit,” Konik said. “Today, I could tell you 10 business ideas that I could develop, turn around and sell at a profit.”

Other businesses started and then sold included Reksbud, a roofing construction company he ran for 15 years, a brick factory and a travel agency next to his office on Reitarska Street in Kyiv.

In 2003, Konik moved into commercial real estate when he reconstructed the Magnus department store in Lviv with investor money and a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Also in 2003, Konik built a condom factory in Lviv Oblast for the brand name Perfekt, in an area designated as a special economic zone.
“I was encouraged by the close proximity to the Polish border and labor that was cheaper than in central Ukraine.”

- Jerzy Konik.

“I was encouraged by the close proximity to the Polish border and labor that was cheaper than in central Ukraine,” he said.

The latex products factory supplies 20 percent of the Ukrainian condoms market of approximately 120 million units. Konik also opened Euromeister, a truck tire regeneration plant in Lviv Oblast with $2.5 million of his own money.

Konik, who estimates he has employed more than 3,000 people and today has 200 hires, is active in an annual charity drive that collects money in May to purchase medical equipment for children’s hospitals in Ukraine.

The Pole said that he wants Europe to bring down the “new iron curtain” and open its borders to Ukrainians so they could know how “a rose smells” and “break their isolation.”

He said the judicial system is Ukraine’s biggest business impediment.

“The courts don’t work, the vast majority of judges are small-time thugs,” he said, recounting the number of times he has had to counteract raider attacks on his businesses.

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