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An AFI technician at work

An AFI technician at work



AFI adopts 'customer first’ approach

In the face of tough market conditions, the firm is actively focusing on adding value to its business by strengthening its relationship with customers and prioritising their needs

01 October 2016

Dammam-based Alaa for Industry (AFI), a leading industrial products supplier and service provider in the Arabian Gulf, says it has achieved excellent results in 2015 and is on track to reach its targeted sales and revenues for 2016. 

“Although it has been a difficult period for all industries, especially considering our business is inherently linked to the oil industry, we managed to achieve excellent results for 2015,” says Sary Qasim, CRM & marketing manager at AFI.

“Thanks to our longstanding relationship with our customers and great effort of our sales team in each branch, we were able to hit our target for the year 2015 and we are on the right track for 2016 Q1 and Q2, as well,” he adds. 

AFI is a fully-owned subsidiary of Ibrahim Ali Al Rashoodi & Partners Holding Co (LLC), a privately-owned Saudi Arabian company. Founded over 30 years ago as a seals and hydraulic components manufacturer and distributor in Dammam, it has since grown into a multinational company with an extensive product range. 

While the positive results have been encouraging, the tough underlying market conditions triggered by oil price fluctuations have affected it too. 

“Low oil prices have undeniably affected everyone. For us too, the main challenge is the market fluctuation and prices of oil and gas. Many of our customers have suffered due to this instability, and we have seen significant changes in the number of projects in various fields, notably construction,” laments Qasim. 

However, having a diverse range of products and services which caters to customers outside the oil and gas industry, has come to AFI’s rescue and helped it to garner growth. “We have a diverse range of products and services. We are also fortunate to have extremely qualified staff with a large technical knowledge base. This makes us slightly more flexible to change as the market changes. Nevertheless we are wishing for oil prices to be recovered soon,” he adds. 


CUSTOMER FIRST

For now, the company is making an attempt to strengthen its relationship with its customer by focusing on a “customer first” approach this year, which it hopes will add value to the business.
 

AFI is the only company in the Middle East to be ADR certified for its super-suckers

AFI is the only company in the Middle East to be ADR certified for its super-suckers

“This year we are dedicated to continuously develop our new management structure, which aims to focus more on maintaining good customer relationships and prioritising customers’ needs.

“We understand that at this time, our clients are more inclined to extend the life of their current equipment rather than replace it, which is why we are actively focused on providing complete service solutions, including regular maintenance, repair and overhaul,” Qasim elaborates. 

The company has launched two major projects this year to develop our internal quality management systems and procedures, which include ADC Central stores in Bahrain, and an AFI Parker store in Khodariya in Dammam. “The aim of opening these is to reach an even greater market and to be able to thoroughly support our customers’ requirements,” he says. 

 

WIDE PRODUCT RANGE

AFI’s vast product and service range is divided into five major divisions: hydraulics and pneumatics division; transportation equipment division; oil and gas and petrochemical solutions division; capital equipment division; and power transmission division.

Of these, the company’s transportation division contributed most – 36 per cent – to its total turnover in the last year. This included its locally manufactured transportation equipment, vacuum tankers, super suckers, service trucks, and more. 

The company has two production facilities in Dammam, one for transportation equipment and the other for manufacturing rubber products. “At AFI, we encourage and support local production and manufacturing within Saudi,” says Qasim. 

One of its existing plants produces highly engineered complex super suckers, ADR units, high-pressure vessels, vacuum tankers, jetting tankers and truck-mounted products for the oil and gas, petrochemical, processing and service industries.

The other facility is involved in the design and production of technical rubber parts, rollers and other engineered rubber items for a wide range of industries in Saudi Arabia and overseas.

Although the company is well known for its manufactured products, it is predominantly a renowned wholesaler and retailer with over 18 branches and still expanding, importing more than 200 top international brands to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

One of the Eastern Province’s prominent industrial establishments, AFI had last May announced plans to restructure its production facilities to include the design and manufacturing of ADR super-sucker units, aluminum tankers, dry bulk tankers, transit mixers and other transportation equipment-related products.

The company had announced plans to expand its R&D and engineering departments to include the design and production of specialised project-driven hydraulic and pneumatic systems and components and to extend its state-of-the-art cylinder chrome plating, and developing other service solutions including manufacturing and preventative maintenance procedures for all clients in the GCC.

 

NEW MARKETS

The home market of Saudi Arabia accounts for some 90 per cent of all the company’s manufactured products. The GCC market is served through the company’s branches in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

“Although we focus most of our attention on the large demand in the countries of our branches, we do export to other countries – including the UAE, Jordan and Oman – based on enquiries we get,” he says.

The company has consistently been working on completing some of the major projects with many of its clients in Saudi Arabia, including Saudi Aramco and Sabic. 

It has recently become the first company to build an ADR unit in Saudi Arabia, with ISO Certification.

ADR is a 1957 United Nations treaty that governs transnational transport of hazardous materials. Being the only company in the Middle East to be ADR certified for its super-suckers is a prominent achievement for AFI. 

Going forward, AFI says that it plans to enter new markets in the near future and also look at acquisitions for growth. 

“Our current growth strategy is to expand through acquisitions. Our wide product and service range allows us to develop key relationships with our large customer base, which is constantly expanding. One of our goals is to focus on the sales teams and have them concentrate on specific products or divisions, which helps them develop not only their own knowledge and strategy, but gives them more tools to help our customers. We also plan to enter more territories in the near future,” Qasim reveals.




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