DOSSIER Apr-Jun 2013 : Interview
ACP, for the past few decades, has been consistently delivering quality products and services. To what do you attribute this stupendous growth shown by the company?
The growth story of Assarain Concrete Products & Trading LLC (popularly known as ACP in the industry fraternity) rests mainly on its people, team work and the fire within. As our key focus areas, we have always looked at business expansion, continuous improvement and continuous aligning of people, processes and technology to ensure this growth. Over the last decade, we have also been able to create a much higher pull on ACP’s product movement through brand development, close customer networking and forming partnerships with many key decision makers.
My team and I have always tried to move forward, continued to relook at ourselves critically and then think “what next?” This has helped us gain year on year good growth, raise the bar of excellence within the company and overall, create a committed and electrified team.
Kindly describe in detail, the role of the higher management of the Group towards this growth process and success.
Well, the unstinted support and guidance from our higher management has been the main backbone to our growth story. In fact, nothing much would have been possible without the dynamism and supportive attitude of our Managing Director, Mr. Khalid Said Al Wahaibi. The Executive Committee members comprising mainly of our MD Mr Khalid, Group Finance Director, Mr SP Nanda and our Group General Manager, Mr DM Gulwadi have always listened to our ever increasing demands with patience and have given full support through quick decision-making. The exceptional three-dimensional vision of our Managing Director and the top management has given adequate focus on our business, never cutting corners on technology and capacity building. The signature hallmark of our top management, in my opinion, has been also ‘quick decisions’ and ‘approvals’ through our respected Chairman, Lt. Col. Said Salem Al Wahaibi and the young and dynamic Managing Director Mr. Khalid Said Al Wahaibi.
I think they have been clearly focussed on their final objective of adding value to the country’s infrastructure development with Assarain Concrete’s quality products.
In which direction will we see ACP headed in the next couple of years?
I, as the General Manager of the company, can foresee ACP heading only “North” in the next couple of years. This is because I have always tried to create razor sharp competitive advantages to distinguish us in an over- crowed market. We have therefore consistently expanded to meet the growing demand of our products and all our manufacturing plants are technologically very advanced, manufacturing high quality products with enhanced productivity.
Intrinsic to this growth are our people and we have been able to build an enviably strong team which is continuously focused on the deliverables in their respective areas of responsibility under my close monitoring, participative guidance and responsibility.
From a product development and customer support perspective, what does the future of ACP hold?
Over the last 13 years, I have tried to enrich the bouquet of product offering to our customers which has been only possible by continuous product development, inclusion of new products and addition of special designs, special products and smart construction solutions.
From the customer support perspective, we are aligned to provide the latest products and give our valued customers a ‘single roof access’ to their requirements for external landscaping and construction solutions. Our product portfolio is indeed very strong comprising most diverse and colourful external paving solutions, roof slabs, building blocks, kerbstones, etc. Added to this are light-weight blocks, cable protection tiles, special shotblasted coloured pavers, shotblasted coloured kerbstones, paving slabs and luxury segment patterned tiles. We also offer street furniture comprising Planters, Bollards, Benches, Wheel Stoppers, Fences, Led-lit Stones, Rubber Tiles, Playground Equipment, etc.
Hence, on an overall basis, our product offerings in years to come are going to get better and stronger and our customers are already becoming aware as to “where to find these”. With such a robust product portfolio, ACP has established itself as a natural choice for many Consultants and Contracting Companies and thus contributes towards building their projects with ACP’s quality products and multiple solutions that it offers.
What is the fastest growing component of your business?
Whether I look back or look ahead, it is clear that ACP has evolved as the leader in paving and the kerbing industry. Our fastest growing component is the ever increasing requirement of our high quality pavers from the construction industry. However, in the same breath, I cannot also deny that all our other products are also very fast moving and in fact, this is the exact reason we look at capacity enhancement, year on year. The quality finishes, wide spectrum of designs and the choices available to the big-ticket clients and even families for their requirements, ACP is the preferred choice and we have enough to thank our customers who bestow their faith in ACP. I can only reassure that our focus in giving back to society by way of our quality products, enhanced customer service and improved CRM measures is the best gesture that ACP can make towards its customers.
What is the biggest challenge for ACP right now? How are you addressing it?
Generally, across the industry and even with us, the biggest challenge faced is towards lowering manpower costs by attracting qualified manpower with higher productivity. In the current competitive, free labour market, it is indeed a challenge to retain good people, get the best productivity and also retain our quality national manpower. On the office side, we have good quality and capable national manpower which is continuously helping us in achieving our targets and we are simultaneously focusing towards addressing our ever-increasing requirements further. With new innovative retaining strategies, we are trying to address this challenge.
ACP’s profile has increased manifold in the recent years in the construction industry. What is your main thrust area and what are your management principles?
My role and accountability has been towards ensuring the overall financial performance, strategic management, day-to-day management, business development, relationship management, commercial decisions and also managing people and their performances. Apart from all this, my focus has always been to create productive teams with good inter-departmental weave which is critical to any organization seeking excellence. This has been possible through participative management and teamwork. I have always believed in leading from front and leading by example. In my opinion, people who lead should be knowledgeable, diligent, sharp, analytical and decisive. This gives an edge to create a strong and sustainable partnership, both outside and within the organization.
All this is, of course, towards making ACP a customer-centric company with all efforts guided towards making the company unique and distinctive for Oman’s construction industry and diverse valued customers, the prime users of concrete products.