When Omar Mohamed Said is asked who inspires him in his role as CEO at Flowco Malaysia, the answer is simple: it’s his predecessor, the founder of the company and his father. “A big part of my life was shaped by him,” Omar reflects.
“Sometimes I wish that he was around to see what I’ve done, and hopefully see that he’s proud of me. He passed away in 2010. “I don’t know if what I’m doing when it comes to the company and my life is something that he would be proud of because I’ve never had the chance to find out. So, it serves as my motivation to keep doing better, to improve, because I hope that whatever I’m doing would make him proud. That’s why I’m always motivated to improve both myself and my company.”
Flowco was founded in 1994. Omar says his father took “many risks and several leaps of faith” and he draws inspiration from his leadership style. Though it started out small, Flowco today acts as a supplier and maintenance service provider for about half of Malaysia’s petrol station network, for clients such as Petronas, BhPetrol, Petron and more.
For Omar, his work is essential, not only in ensuring the functioning of its customers but also carrying on his father’s legacy. The CEO has also found his own passion in the work. As part of his role, he travels to explore the global industry, particularly manufacturers in Europe and the US.
This enables Omar to observe new technology and equipment and he then encourages local adoption of this technology. For example, Flowco is working towards offering Internet of Things services, as it transitions from an engineering to a more IT-based infrastructure.
The company is also adopting building automation and vendor management, making it the first local business to offer such services. Omar sees this as a key advantage, as a local company like Flowco knows exactly what the domestic market needs, based on insights that multinationals don’t have.
It’s also an essential step in introducing new services, equipment and technology to its customers. “That’s the biggest joy that I get in my position – being able to see something new and being excited about it and being equally excited to share those things with my customers,” Omar enthuses.
“What’s even more rewarding is when they actually believe in whatever I’ve proposed, and to see them taking that on board and deploying those systems into their business and at their stations as well.
“On top of that is growing the business. We have about 300-odd employees with us, and it’s fulfilling to see that my efforts in growing this business are impacting their lives as well, to see everybody progress. I’m just doing my part, in some small way or another, to improve the lives of the employees here.”
I’m just doing my part, in some small way or another, to improve the lives of the employees here.
To encourage buy-in from customers on new concepts, Omar believes that Flowco’s role is to do the work for them. For these customers, it’s a challenge to manage public-facing retail networks. Flowco thus eases some of the pressure by being the one to explore and introduce new beneficial technologies, allowing Flowco’s customers to focus on their own customers.
“If I can say one thing about Flowco, it’s that we never sit still,” Omar says. “There’s always something new about us. There’s always something new at the office. It’s always a work in progress for me. I think that it’s perpetual, it’s never-ending.”
Despite the youthful nature of the Flowco team, Omar says the company has to make an effort to attract new people, given that engineering isn’t typically a flashy or alluring career choice. But Flowco is modernising its office space, bringing it in line with ideas around work–life balance, and has taken steps to improve employee health and fitness, including building a staff gym.
An informal, open-concept office has been encouraged, all designed to make Flowco a happier place to work. “We are trying to improve when it comes to the mental aspects of working at Flowco,” Omar says.
“Because serving our customers, there’s a lot of pressure and expectations, and these expectations will obviously grow in time, so we’ve got to take care of ourselves and our people too.”