From a desert landscape, to one which has grown substantially, the Middle-East has gone from strength to strength. Aligned with this growth is manufacturing company, Inma Steel, which has been behind a large number of megaprojects in the region. Actively working with clients such as Saudi Aramco and SABIC (with all its subsidiaries), the company is responsible for the production and utilisation of custom-built process equipment. Services the company undertakes include mechanical repairs, equipment installation and maintenance works, alongside shutdown, turnarounds and outages.
Incorporating a long history and significant expertise, Managing Director Ibrahim Almubarak explains, “We have been quite successful in business of this scope and have worked on a number of shutdowns, which are now taking approximately 50 percent of our focus. We’re still actively pursuing fabrication, but we’re equally focusing on shutdowns and turnarounds.”
Although Inma Steel has a large client base, an increased competitive market has persuaded the company to rebrand. A curious move for a business of such long standing, yet Almubarak explains, “We chose not to be in a price war, but to hold fast and provide value.” Ensuring the company remains a key player, he says, “we decided to actively engage in working with clients that appreciate working with a company who focus on quality, expertise and professionalism in repairing the equipment which we build.
“There tends to be more problematic issues with older plants, so companies need a good contractor or partner to work with and ensure that they are around to operate in the next few years.”
With this in mind, Inma Steel is investing in a new facility, alongside new technologies which will provide value to clients and provide the ability for increased fabrication. The company’s investment in heat exchanger repair, automated welding machines and related manufacturing equipment is a result of its expanding business growth. “We’re also looking at working on the licensing for repairing high profile or high value equipment, such as valves,” comments Almubarak. “We’re working with European and American manufacturers in order to be a licensed contractor; maintaining, replacing and repairing equipment.”
To support this further, Almubarak is aware that there are a large number of valves incorporated into traditional plants, which Inma Steel is fully taking advantage of. The company is currently building a ‘state of the art’ valve repair shop, which will be situated in the company’s new facility. This technology will be placed alongside a mobile valve repair shop, which can be taken onsite to support the recondition, repair or replacement of valves.
“We’re actively working with German manufacturer EFCO to build the valve repair shop,” adds Almubarak. Embedding a Zero Defects Policy, the company undertakes extensive testing and inspections of all welding and fabrication to ensure world-class results and provide value to clients.
The subject of health and safety is paramount to any business. Inma Steel provides staff with the confidence and necessary tools to complete work to a high standard, and all are encouraged to stop a job if there are any concerns. Almubarak explains that whilst the company is comfortable with a loss of investment or time on occasion to ensure exceptional levels of security and safety standards, he adds that this perspective and culture is also shared by their clients. “We have invested not only in the safety of when workers are outside repairing a column or pressure vessel, but also provide training when it comes to safety in their homes and everyday lives,” he says.
“We even teach people how to drive. We teach them how to be safe at home, at work, on the road, on the go and through their travels. It is our culture to be safety aware.”
A focus on quality and commitment to staff development and quality products has enabled the Inma Steel to develop strong partnerships, which has become embedded within the company culture. “We believe in partnerships and not to take advantage of our clients when they are in need,” Almubarak explains. “Clients know us, the quality of the services which we provide, and clients know the ethics, professionalism and standards of which we hold ourselves to. I believe, and our clients believe that we approach our relationship in a two-partnership way.”
His passion even filters down to the Inma Steel’s investment in staff development and training. With a strong belief in the value of human capital, staff have been sent to prestigious educational centres and schools, such as London Business School, with investment placed in all levels of the company. “We train people, because if you don’t train them, they will not be engaged, performance will decrease and they will take these experiences with them,” Almubarak says.
Despite the current situation in the economy, Inma Steel has not turned away any ventures it was considering prior to the market shift, but is looking at current cost structures in order to drive efficiencies and provide the same quality to clients. “We are here to stay,” comments Almubarak. “This is a new reality, but one in which we are doing well. We are not in the position of waiting for the cloud to pass - we are ready to work in this new reality and remain successful.”
Whilst local competitors compare themselves to other businesses, Almubarak concludes that to drive further future progress, Inma Steel compares itself to its previous self. “Hemingway said, ‘There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.’ That is something I strongly believe in.”
“We also want to become better. We’re not just waiting for others to catch up and be better than them - we continually want to get better than even our previous selves.”