Sponsored by Lane Powell

Global giant buys majority stake in Otak

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Thursday, June 09, 2011

By Ben Jacklet

Okay, so Otak is no Stumptown. Actually, Otak is twice as big as Stumptown, and while it may not have a fanatic customer base among hipsters, it does have 300 employees with deep expertise in how to make cities work better. So when a foreign company buys a majority stake in Otak, it’s a big deal for Oregon.

Unlike Stumptown, Otak is not trying to obfuscate the investment. CEO Nawzad Othman, an ethnic Kurd who came to the United States from Baghdad when he was 17, says the recently announced merger with HanmiGlobal will create all sorts of opportunities for Otak, both in Oregon and globally. HanmiGlobal is based in Seoul, Korea and is one of the 20 largest construction management firms in the world.

t_NawzadOthmanOthman (pictured left, from the magazine's January 2009 issue) started Otak in Oregon 30 years ago, during the big recession of the early 1980s. His company has grown into one of the state’s most successful urban design, architecture, planning and engineering firms.

When the most recent recession hit, Otak was heavily invested in projects in the United Arab Emirates, with an office in Abu Dhabi employing 100 people. Revenues peaked at around $70 million in 2008 for Otak, but have fallen off in subsequent years as the UAE building frenzy has slowed (Othman says they are now between $45 million and $65 million per year).

Although Othman’s company got hurt by the contraction in the Middle East, he says it had to happen. “They were moving way too fast [in the UAE]. Now they’re doing things that are more measured and focused, and that creates opportunities for us.”

HanmiGlobal’s investment in Otak could enable Otak to move into areas where it has not previously worked, such as India, China and Southeast Asia. Othman says he expects jobs to grow both in Oregon and abroad.

“We are going to remain an independent company,” Othman says.

Ben Jacklet is managing editor of Oregon Business.



Jayson Blair
0 #1 So what does Otak do exactly?Jayson Blair 2011-06-09 12:38:49
"deep expertise in how to make cities work better" gives me a hint, but doesn't really do the job. Yes I could Google it, but I shouldn't need to.
Quote | Report to administrator
0 #2 Emma 2011-06-09 12:42:52
It says in the article what Otak does: "one of the state’s most successful urban design, architecture, planning and engineering firms."
Quote | Report to administrator
James Chesky
0 #3 What did the US contractors miss?James Chesky 2011-06-09 14:25:36
What did this Korean construction firm see that so many US construction firms did not? Too bad. They may have missed the long view and the boat.
Quote | Report to administrator
0 #4 Very Nice.sangkon 2011-06-15 08:02:08
It's good news.
Quote | Report to administrator

More Articles

Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

We get the education we deserve.


After the Orange Line

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
090815-trimet-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Alan Lehto, TriMet's director of policy & planning, shares a few thoughts on ride sharing and more nimble bus services.


5 marijuana business people share strategy ahead of recreational sales rollout

The Latest
Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ahead of the recreational rollout, what are dispensary owners most concerned about ?


Adjusting to the New Economy

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

A conversation with Jonathan Bennett, managing partner at law firm Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue.


Reader Input: In or Out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The refugee crisis has put immigration and border issues on the front burner, in Europe and at home. In Oregon, attitudes toward illegal immigration haven’t changed dramatically since 2006.


The Cover Story

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 27, 2015
01-cover-0915-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

How do you put a baby on the cover of a business magazine without it looking too cutesy?


Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02