Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery was established in 2013 to meet the demands of the Saudi Arabian market in terms of construction and mining equipment. Komatsu was the first brand the company represented and was followed by the successful inclusions of more brands to its portfolio, including Manitou, Foton-Loxa and Teksan Generators. The company has further complemented its offerings in the market by developing extensive aftersales capabilities. In just three years, it has become a major force in the machinery segment. Business Review Middle East speaks to Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery’s Managing Director, Arif Chishti about how this was executed, and how the company intends to grow in the next few years while maintaining its exemplary reputation and crucial supplier relationships.
Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery is a business of Abdul Latif Jameel. With dual headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Abdul Latif Jameel’s interests encompass a number of sectors, including automotive distribution, auto parts manufacturing, financial services, renewable energy, environmental services, land and real estate development, logistics, electronics retailing and media services. With presence in over 30 countries across five continents, Abdul Latif Jameel positions itself as a preferred business partner primarily for inward investment into the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) region.
“Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery was founded in 2013,” Chishti explains. “In the same year, we were selected to represent the Komatsu brand in Saudi Arabia. Komatsu is a world renowned brand of Construction and Mining Equipment, and it has been present in Saudi Arabia since the 50’s.
“In just over three years, we expanded by adding a number of global brands including Manitou, Foton-Loxa and Teksan Generators. By successfully launching five facilities across Saudi Arabia, we also expanded our geographical footprint to be closer to our customers. We call them “4S” facilities– Sales, Services, Spare parts, and customer Support.”
Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery, as the name suggests, is primarily responsible for supplying high quality machinery, commercial vehicles, and industrial and heavy equipment to the Saudi market. Alongside this it also provides best in class aftersales support throughout the life cycle of the equipment. Its product range consists of dump trucks, dozers, excavators, wheel loaders, motor graders, telescopic handlers, and concrete delivery trucks. The company has also made recent entry into the generator market.
Chishti explains: “Customer care is central to our business. We endeavour to become our customers’ preferred partners, supporting them through the life of their equipment. Our scope includes initial consultancy advice on the type of product they should buy or rent, proposing financing solutions, service agreements, onsite repairs, operator training, technical training, immediate availability of parts and more. Our customer support standards ensure best in class up-time, thereby providing optimum utilisation of the equipment.”
Chishti adds: “We recently moved into our state-of-the-art facility, which spreads over an area 17,000 square metres in Jeddah. The facility is designed to ensure optimal productivity, workflow efficiency and increased flexibility. It also has a training centre which helps us give young Saudi talent the opportunity to experience and be part of a specialised work environment. We are also proud to say that our facility is currently rated the world’s largest by Komatsu. A similar facility is under construction in Riyadh.”
Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery recognises the value of its employees and is backing this up with a range of initiatives. “We sell premium products and our employees are equally experienced to provide consultative services to our customers. We have a truly multicultural workforce comprising of 19 nationalities but we also have a lot of local talent. Despite the fact that our company only has a formalised three years of presence, we can proudly say that we are in the green zone which means that 30 percent of our workforce is comprised of Saudi talent,” explains Chishti.
“We have a very important role to play in Saudi Arabia and that’s to build national talent.” Chishti adds, “We are always keen on hiring fresh Saudi graduates and putting them through training on parts, services, or sales. Today, we have 10 graduates who are undergoing this scheme which will last for two years, after which they will have full time employment with us.”
The company uses a mixture of in-house and outsourced training programs to ensure that its employees comply with both internal and customer expectations. Chishti adds: “As site conditions vary significantly with temperatures ranging from 0 to 52 degrees and humidity of more than 90 percent, our service crew have to pass physical ability tests as well.
Chishti explains: “Having experienced buoyant growth over the past years, the industry is currently going through challenging times; customers and suppliers alike are reducing workforce, and capital expenditure. At Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery, customer satisfaction is our top priority and we continuously look at innovative ways to meet the changing needs of our customers. We carefully “listen” to their requirements and provide them with the best customised solutions.”
Chishti adds: “While there have been casualties in the industry, we are investing on our talent which will ensure that we continue to have the best talent through these tough times. Specialised talent is not an easy find.”
Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery has also used its supply chain to drive customer satisfaction. By optimising its inventory and logistics procedures using a centralised Enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, the company is able to aim for 95 percent first pick across its parts. The company also adheres to Kaizen principles in line with Abdul Latif Jameel’s broader continuous improvement structure.
Chishti highlights that Komatsu has an installed base of thousands of pieces of equipment in Saudi Arabia and, subsequently, customer support is at the cornerstone of Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery as a business. Chishti and his teams have worked hard to provide innovative solutions for new and returning customers alike. Such solutions comprise of on-site modular support units including workshop, parts warehouse, and lube service shops at the customer site.
He adds: “We don’t actually call them customers - we refer to them as guests because guests have the highest degree of respect in the Arab world. We have what we call a ‘guest delight index’, and we have a dedicated guest delight department that calls our guests to ask them about their experience with us and areas we can improve on.”
“Equipment constitutes a large proportion of capital investment on a project - perhaps the largest. Recognising this dynamic, we continually train customer operators in safe and efficient operation and maintenance procedures. Our guest support standards ensure best in class up-time, thereby providing optimum utilisation of the equipment,” continues Chishti.
Information & Communication Technology (ICT):
“To provide timely recommendations to customers, Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery installs Komatsu’s remote machine operation management system (KOMTRAX) in every Komatsu piece of equipment delivered, along with its subscription.
“This allows pre-empting possible failures and reducing diagnostic time. Through KOMTRAX, operator training needs are also identified and this goes a long way to delight our customers. KOMTRAX is also available as a retrofit for older Komatsu equipment,” Chishti explains.
It is the team of people which brings life into a company, as Chishti highlights: “Our core values are Respect, Integrity, Passion and Empower (RIPE); these are indoctrinated in every employee. We refer to them as associates. Our associates are emphatically attached to our company and they contribute valuable ideas which are key drivers of growth in good and not so good times.”
Abdul Latif Jameel Machinery has been able to build an extensive business and develop into a well trusted partner of choice in only three years. Having developed a series of key relationships with equipment manufacturers, the company holds true to its reputation for being a supplier of global brands with a local touch. By investing in both its physical and human assets, the company has proven that its business model is not only viable, but capable of delivering for its staff, its customers, and its partners.