Graduate Finds a Market in Israel for His Construction Skills

2.06.2017
Dov '95 and Jessica Kram and family
Dov '95 and Jessica Kram and family

A week after Dov Kram ’95 formally launched his new company in Israel, he already had been asked to submit bids on three projects. Still, he said, “The advice I would offer to anyone looking to move to Israel and start a company of their own is to be patient, confident in their skills and to remain determined in terms of the potential success of their new venture.”

Dov, an experienced building contractor, has launched Dov Kram Ltd. less than six months after making aliyah. The company, targeting the “Anglo” community in Israel, doesn’t just build. It also “allows for potential clients to find all the professionals they need to see their project from concept through completion, and beyond as it relates to both short and long term maintenance.” 

“I realized as I assembled the components needed to open my company, that there was need for more than just a builder to service the high-end English-speaking market,” Dov said. “Having talked with Anglos who have built in Israel, it became clear that they have not been able to achieve the same level of detail or finish as what they had come to expect overseas. Others have chosen not to build, some for fear that the Israeli builders couldn’t relate to them and didn’t understand what they were looking for, due to things being lost in translation, and others that found the process of selecting and engaging all the various professionals needed to complete a project overwhelming.” 

So he decided to expand his reach beyond construction. “I began building an internal network of professionals who are fluent English speakers and work in related services — real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, architects, interior designers, landscape architects, real estate attorneys, property/building managers and suppliers,” he said. 

The move to Israel happened fast for Dov, his wife Jessica (Dollinger) Kram ’95, and their children.  “As things with my career in Boston progressed I became more and more focused on my career goals with the company, in which I had become a partner,” he said. “While I liked the idea of moving to Israel it was never a big priority for me; it was something I thought we might do in retirement.”

Then in May 2015, “my father, z’l, passed away and everything changed. I found myself thinking about how short life is for all of us and what my priorities in life were. I spoke at length with Jess about this. A couple of months went by and we concluded that family was our number one priority and Israel was a close second. It was very obvious to both of us that we wanted to move to Israel to be closer to my two siblings, Toby ’98 and Tamar (Kram) Shafner ‘06 and their families and a very large extended family that we are blessed to have living here in Israel.”

Through an acquaintance of Toby’s, Dov met Avi Grumet, a builder whom Dov says “focuses on the minute details of the project, responds quickly to questions or concerns and takes immense pride in his work. He understood that teaming up with me would help him access the ‘Anglo’ market that he had very limited access to on his own.” They began to plan a potential working relationship. 

“When it became clear that this was an opportunity for me to work in Israel and deliver an end product on par with the work I had been doing in Boston for so many years, the notion of making aliyah seemed not just like a possibility but an opportunity,” Dov said. “We essentially started packing that day.” They arrived in Israel on July 20, 2016, and now reside in Efrat.

Establishing a company in Israel “took a lot of effort, but the process itself was very fulfilling,” he said. “There were a lot of unknowns but my attitude of ‘expect the best but plan for the worst’ came in very handy, having designed a logo, built a website, printed business cards and brochures, registered the company with the proper authorities, engaged a lawyer and an accountant, opened a company bank account, got a company stamp, and more.” 

“It can be confusing, at times, to navigate the system here where everything is geared towards fluent Hebrew speakers and where the processes are unfamiliar,” he observed. “Surround yourself with people you trust and keep your eye on the prize.” 

“I don’t expect immediate success and I know that I will make mistakes along the way, but at the end of the day I have my priorities straight, so much of my immediate and extended family close by, a roof over my head and my feet firmly planted in the ground of Eretz Yisrael,” Dov said.