South Carolina's Prysmian Group Lands $300M Verizon Contract: Growth Projections from CEO Hakan Ozmen

Mollee D. Harper

Monday, November 6th, 2017

South Carolina CEO caught up with Hakan Ozmen, CEO of Prysmian Group North America, headquartered out of Lexington, South Carolina. During our time together, Ozmen shares insights into his work and leadership role over the past two decades, serving in Milan before the U.S. He also shares details about the company’s recent success landing a $300 million contract from Verizon, and how the company has invested in local operations to build fiber optic cables for this global infrastructure upgrade for the telecom leader. Ozmen also describes some of the unique programs they have developed to train engineers, celebrate diversity and strengthen women’s roles in the workplace.     

Prysmian Group North America is a world leader in the supply of cables and systems for energy and telecommunications, founded in 2011 through the union of Draka and Prysmian. The company is headquartered at 700 Industrial Drive, Lexington, South Carolina. Prysmian Group has 140 years of experience with 82 plants in 50 countries and nearly 21,000 employees.

Ozmen described, “Prysmian Group operates in two important industries – telecom and energy. The Prysmian brand is a collection of cable companies we’ve acquired over time with different cable facilities. We purchased Draka in 2010-2011. Draka was a Dutch specialty company so we kept that brand. Everything else falls under the Prysmian brand.” 

“Ozmen offered, “I served as Worldwide Director of Telecom for Prysmian Group in Milan, Italy, and CEO for Prysmian Group Turkey, before stepping into my role as CEO of North America operations here in Lexington in 2011. Our North American operations have been headquartered here in South Carolina for nearly 40 years and specifically in Lexington for 31 years now.”

“A lot of people may not be familiar with us yet because we are primarily a B2B company. Prysmian has 21,000 employees across the globe. In North America, I oversee 2,500 employees, including 780 in South Carolina. We have 11 factories in the U.S. including 2 plants here in SC. Lexington is our telecom plant. Our Abbeville facility is focused on energy and high voltage products.”

“As you know we are operating in two important industries – telecom and energy. Inside telecom, Verizon is one of our customers with which we have had a long-lasting relationship for many years. Recently, they announced they wanted to increase the broadband bandwidth in speed and also create communities for their devices to better connect and support the continuous need for information exchange.”

“Verizon made the decision to build a stronger network and made a significant investment to make that happen. They signed a contract with us in April of this year to supply their fiber optic requirements to support their expansion. Fiber optics is used to expand and control the Internet devices. 4G technology is not enough to support what they require. In order to support all of the many devices with the bandwidth that is needed, it requires a stronger network. We are going to help provide that network.” 

“We are providing the main backbone of the network which is the fiber optic cables. There are also many other components that have to be factored in as well. Our expertise is on the cable side. We are providing the cables which have to be buried and stationed in different buildings to create the infrastructure. All of these cables will be produced here in our Lexington telecom facility.” 

“While Verizon made a $300 million investment with us for this project, we also made a major investment on our side. Our production side is increasing 13%. We have added staff and machinery in Lexington at our telecom plant to handle this Verizon contract. We’ve already added 10-15 new people and will add another 30 jobs as the project ramps up. We will double in size if needed. Our investment for additional resources is approximately $15 million to date. This type of project is time consuming from the construction and permitting side. If it requires more resources, we will be ready to support that need.”

“We have some other noteworthy initiatives underway, beyond the Verizon contract. In January we are opening the Prysmian Academy that is attached to our main facility in Lexington. The R&D academy opening this January is part of our company’s network of corporate education facilities designed to enhance the potential of professionals already employed with our group by providing them with opportunity for specialized training.”

“The International Graduate Program is a talent acquisition program through which we recruit recent graduates and provide them (over the course of 3 years) with experience both throughout our NA facilities and abroad, before they assume a mid-level management position.”

“For our ’MAKE IT’ program, Prysmian Group North America hired 10 new engineers and another 50 professionals from all over the world, this past year. We kept them one year in the U.S., and will then send them to work abroad for two years before placing them into a position in the company. The ‘MAKE IT’ program is really part of the recruitment program we are continuously growing and supporting. Our International Graduate Program, ‘MAKE IT’ and ‘SELL IT’ programs are all ongoing initiatives we have implemented to bring in the best talent and provide them with the skills they need to be successful in their careers at Prysmian.” 

“From a leadership standpoint, diversity is so important. We are trying to blend all of the different cultures together to create the Prysmian culture. We have a program we launched globally and here in North America called ‘Side by Side’. The ‘Side by Side’ program supports women as well as different ethnicities. We are working to improve women’s roles in our industry and actively moving more women into leadership roles inside our organization. This program is very important to us globally, and locally.” 

Ozmen concluded, “We would like people to know who we are and what we do. Its important that we have more visibility on the opportunities we are providing in our local market through our contract with Verizon, our diversity programs and expansions.”

Executive Bio

Hakan Ozmen serves as President and CEO of Prysmian Group North America covering operations in Canada, Central America and the United States, since 1998. He joined Prysmian Group as Auditor before being appointed CFO of Prysmian Group Turkey. There, he was promoted to COO then later CEO. In his role as CEO, Ozmen has been responsible for stabilizing the business and increasing the affiliate’s profitability. Ozmen’s success in Turkey led to the opportunity to serve as Worldwide Director of Telecom for Prysmian Group. After two years in this role, Ozmen took his current position as CEO of North America, where he was responsible for merging the major corporations Draka and Prysmian. Ozmen holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Yeditepe University and an undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from the METU University in Ankara, Turkey. Ozmen is fluent in English, German, Italian and Turkish and is an advocate for Prysmian Group’s diversity, sustainability and recruitment programs.  

For more information on Prysmian Group, visit their website at: