Gavin Davids catches up with Jens Bawidamann and Hassan Al Mahroos in Bahrain during the launch of Al Mahroos’ new sales and service centre for Putzmeister’s concrete pumps and mixers.
As 2012 drew to a close, Putzmeister, the gigantic German concrete pump manufacturer, announced that it had tied up a partnership agreed with a Bahraini company to distribute its equipment throughout the tiny Gulf kingdom. The partnership with the Al Mahroos Group will see the Bahraini company distribute and provide after sales services for Putzmeister products to the Bahraini market, while eventually also providing technical support and customer training for equipment such as concrete pumps and mortar machines.
While initial impressions of the deal could veer towards it being insignificant due to the size of the market, Jens Bawidamann, the regional director – GCC for Putzmeister Middle East, could not disagree strongly enough. “Look, no market is too small. When you have to do business, you have to do business,” he tells CMME at an event to celebrate the launch of the partnership at the Al Mahroos HQ in Manama, Bahrain (with 60 ready mix contractors attending).
“I think that all the companies learnt this worldwide. Everybody was focusing on the big shots and forgetting the smaller markets. Nowadays, people have learnt that even in the small markets, you can earn money and this money will be required in the tough times,” he explains, drawing a parallel between the market in Oman and the slowly remerging Bahraini market.
“Business is always important. Nowadays, if you look at Oman, seven years ago, no one was looking at Oman.“Now it’s really running. If you’re there before it starts, you’ll be really safe when it goes. People will have confidence and trust (in you), they will not think that you only come when there is something here, or to catch the money.”
Hassan Al Mahroos, the driving force behind the partnership and the executive director of the Group, adds that while Bahrain is geographically small, there is still a lot of opportunity for growth, with a large segement of the country ripe for development. “I believe that in the near future, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, particularly in 2015, when the bridge between Bahrain and Qatar starts, there will be so many projects coming up around that area. There are more than 5,000 villas being built by the Ministry of Housing, all of them will need concrete to be built,” he says.
“The recession hit Bahrain in the beginning of 2009, but Bahrain will recover from it. Okay, it may not be 100% now, but I believe that there are so many projects. “(Don’t forget) Bahrain is very close to the GCC’s biggest market, Saudi Arabia. So many companies want to be based in Bahrain, working in Saudi Arabia. And now, with the bridge, companies want to be based in Bahrain and work in Qatar. They are waiting for when the bridge starts,” Al Mahroos explains.
With these plans in mind, Al Mahroos has ambitious expansion plans in mind, and integral to those plans are the success of its partnership with Putzmeister. Having invested more than $2.65mn into building just the workshop, Al Mahroos is demonstrating just how serious it is about making the partnership work and flourish.
“I knew Hassan for many years and when we were talking in the beginning, we already had a partner here,” the regional director for Putzmeister says. “What’s very important for Putzmeister is that we’re always looking for long partnerships and we don’t jump from one partner to another on yearly basis. So what I said to Hassan at the time was that ‘we have to give our partner a chance and see how we can do things’. Unfortunately for the old partner, it did not succeed,” he recollects.
“For us it was always a bit of a headache, we have the best product and we’re well known in the whole region. But only one part of success is having the best equipment. “You need a strong partner, a partner who has a service philosophy and a vision (that match’s yours), and that’s something you can see here today, already in the short time we’ve been working together,” Bawidamann adds.
With a facility consisting of a high-quality workshop and a show room, Al Mahroos has gone to great lengths to ensure that his staff and crew have received the best training available, allowing them to meet the Putzmeister standard he says. Not only did they consult the manufacturer throughout the building of the workshop, he has been ready to send technicians and engineers to the main factory in Germany for training.
In addition, Al Mahroos has ensured that his sales team has received a thorough education in the machines they’ll be selling, thus ensuring that he has every base covered. “There is a workshop, there is a showroom, the machines are here, and people are trained. So for us, it’s a very good situation. If we’re not successful now, then something is wrong,” Bawidamann asserts. Explaining his philosophy, Al Mahroos says that one of the first things he looked for when starting on this venture was the right people to be involved. Despite having invested a lot into the partnership, he tells CMME that the most important asset he had available to him was the manpower at his disposal.
For the human element is the most critical component in ensuring the operation can be succesful in the market. “The human is the most important and now-a-days, the human must be, whether an engineer, a technician or a sales person, they must be qualified. And not only technically qualified, but personally. He must have the ability to do his job in the right way and he must also have the spirit to do the work. This is not only from his side, but also from our side,” he points out.
“How do we improve that spirit? There are many factors. First we have to respect him, to give him the power and the responsibility, to believe in him and to give him a chance to work and prove himself. I think this is very important.” Although the partnership is just starting out, Al Mahroos says that he’s got big plans for the future of his company, with expansion plans for the Group already in motion. To date, the company already operates throughout the GCC, but Hassan Al Mahroos asserts that there are further expansion plans in the pipeline, though he declines to go into specifics.
“Today we build the foundation for this partnership, but the projects are coming. Bahrain is our headquarters, but we’re working all across the Gulf and we have branches all around the Gulf. Al Mahroos then explains that he believes that his company has, potentially, a very good partnership and a good future with Putzmeister
“New cities will be developed, the infrastructure and roads have already been built, but for what? All these bridges and highways have been built for coming projects and we start, I believe, at the right time,” he concludes.
(Source: Construction MachineryME 13.01.2013)