When Al Ghurair Readymix receives an order for a batch of concrete, a complex, fully automated series of events is set in motion. In one of three plants operated by the company in Dubai’s Al Quoz Industrial Area, ingredients such as dune sand, crushed sand and aggregate are mixed in proportions determined by advanced concrete monitoring software in order to produce the composition most appropriate for the customer’s needs.
After the concrete is mixed, it is dispatched into one of Al Ghurair’s 90 mixer trucks and sent off to the customer. The company guarantees delivery anywhere in Dubai within one hour.
“From my first day in the company, I have made sure we always use the most advanced equipment,” says General Manager Emad Azizi. “It’s our policy to always adapt to the most durable, most sustainable technology and equipment.”
Emad entered the Readymix business in Saudi Arabia in 1989 and joined Al Ghurair in 1996 as an Operations Manager. He has led Al Ghurair’s Readymix business as General Manager since 2010, overseeing operations in the UAE, with the addition of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in 2013.
Emad has been with the company during several of its highest-profile projects, including the Dubai Metro – the first urban train network in the Arabian Peninsula. The Dubai Metro has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s longest fully automated metro network.
“This project, from 2005 to 2010, was the most important project we’ve done in our life as a company,” Emad admits. “We were the sole supplier of a total 2.8 million cubic metres of fresh concrete, baker’s concrete and fresh in-situ concrete, worth more than AED1 billion (€234 million).”
The project elevated Al Ghurair from one of the UAE’s top players in concrete to the undisputed market leader. “The expertise and experience we gained from the Metro project related to quality and compliance with safety measures enabled us to produce a concrete with a service life of 100 years, which was something new in the market at that time,” Emad says.
Extending the base
In its 35 years of existence, Al Ghurair Readymix has produced an estimated 30 million cubic metres of concrete, which has gone into the construction of some of the most iconic buildings in the Gulf region, such as the Dubai International Airport and the Council of Ministries in Doha, Qatar.
With this prestige has come a high degree of freedom to explore various business strategies. “We used to chase prestige, always seeking the large and medium projects over the smaller ones,” Emad recalls.
We always try to maintain strategic, long-term relationships with our suppliers, as well as our customers.
“Today, now that we are the market leader, we are focusing on extending our base. With a larger number of smaller customers, we may have more customers for the same volume, which can be an operational headache, but it ends up giving us greater safety regarding collection. Higher diversification among customers means less risk.”
The need for Al Ghurair to minimise outstanding payments and keep collection cycles short has become especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the construction industry has suffered, and contractors have found themselves overextended.
Al Ghurair Readymix has a production capacity of more than 1.8 million cubic metres per year, making it perfectly placed to serve the ever-growing needs of complex infrastructure projects in the Middle East.
While Emad sees this as regrettable, he does not believe the solution is for the company to finance its customers. “We always try to maintain strategic, long-term relationships with our suppliers, as well as our customers. This is why we are so selective about the quality of our customers, and we try to make sure all parties can benefit from the relationship,” Emad says.
Loyalty is the key to Al Ghurair’s success. The company has had a single supplier of aggregate – Stevin Rock – for the past 25 years. “We are the only ready-mix concreter in the UAE that has a single supplier of aggregate. Some might consider that a weakness, but I consider it a strength because we have a strategic relationship that we both appreciate,” Emad says.
“It’s a win–win synergy.” This loyalty is also reflected within Al Ghurair, where staff turnover is remarkably low, and consistency and stability are high. “Two of my managers – the ones in charge of production and quality, health and safety – recently retired after 32 and 34 years, respectively,” Emad says.
“This is at the root of our company. When people succeed here, they do not take their success elsewhere. They continue their success stories with us.”
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