A professional builder in Berlin, Jens Wenk enjoyed his holidays on the Costa del Sol so much that he moved here in 1992, although his work later took him to Lanzarote and Tenerife. But when the time came to start thinking about growing his business, he knew the perfect place. That place was the Costa del Sol and he lost no time in returning to it…
Tell us about what you do and what it involves
I’ve been building in Spain for more than 16 years now, and founded Gecontec SL in 2006. We started small, but have expanded over the years so that we now have an in-house team of eight, as well as working with several experienced subcontractors such as qualified plumbers and glazing companies, etc.
We carry out refurbishments, kitchens, bathrooms, etc., we do extensions, project management and also undertake new build projects. We work closely with architects – especially Muka, the award-winning Spanish architectural studio – structural engineers, interior designers and landscape gardeners. No job is too big or too small and we’re experienced in working on both contemporary and rustic properties, residential and commercial alike.
We pride ourselves on our high quality work, German efficiency, attention to detail and fair prices. Almost all our clients are word-of-mouth recommendations and everything we do has a 2-year guarantee. The last 5 to 6 years we’ve been kept constantly busy and most of our clients are British, Scandinavian, German, Belgian and Russian. It helps of course that I speak Spanish and English as well as German.
What part of your work do you enjoy most?
I love all aspects of my work, but what I enjoy most of all is sitting down with my clients to design their project.
What motivates you?
That’s easy, making my clients happy.
And when you’re not working?
To be honest I don’t really have much free time. I generally work at least 50 hours a week and then there’s always paperwork to do. But when I do have some spare time, I like playing padel, tennis and squash, going to the beach and walking our two dogs.
What do you like best about your Costa del Sol lifestyle?
Well, the climate of course, there’s simply nowhere else in Europe that even comes close!
Your favourite beach?
Your favourite restaurant?
You’d better ask my wife!
Your favourite Spanish dish?
I love fish and seafood and the choice here on the Costa del Sol is out of this world. My favourites are Gambas al Pil-Pil, Dorada, and mixed fish dishes like Fritura Malagueña for example.
Your preferred night out with family or friends?
Jump in the car at the weekend, where do you head?
We love going away for the weekend whenever we can, and we really enjoy exploring big Spanish cities – Madrid and Barcelona – as well as getting to know Spain’s fascinating provincial capitals. But we don’t take the car, we much prefer travelling on the AVE high speed train and then when we get to our destination and go sightseeing we simply hop in a taxi. We like going shopping in London, too.
How would you compare your life on the Costa del Sol to Germany?
I work harder here than in Germany, that’s for sure. I have a friend in Berlin who’s in the same line of business as me, and his working day is over by 4pm while I often work 10, 12 or even 14 hours a day, because when a client calls you here, you have to go!
But the Costa del Sol’s fabulous weather is always a huge plus and it more than makes up for the long hours!
Anything you miss about Germany?
Well, I do go back to Germany several times a year to attend courses on new products, it’s important to always keep up-to-date. But, yes, there are a few things I miss… the food, the shopping, and Christmastime in Germany and Austria.
What advice would you give to someone relocating and wanting to start a business here?
I’d say there are two things that are absolutely fundamental to success. One is to have sufficient funds available to support yourself, your family and your lifestyle until such time as your business is fully established, which generally isn’t something that happens overnight.
And the other is to learn to speak at least some Spanish, because even if all your clients are expatriates, you’ll still have to deal with the town hall, the tax authorities, your suppliers and so on, and it’s so much easier if you don’t need an interpreter.