Home / ANALYSIS / Steely resolve - Kanoo's chief talks

Steely resolve - Kanoo's chief talks

by Greg Whitaker on Aug 11, 2010

Kanoo believes that there is a demand for fabrication.
Kanoo believes that there is a demand for fabrication.
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There is nothing like the buzz of mig welders, accompanied by the sound and sparks of angle grinders, set off by the din of clanking great hammers.

It’s true that this cacophony is something of an acquired taste, but to us it signifies that an industry is getting back on its feet – and doing exactly what you’d expect of a plant yard.

Of course, all too many plant yards are silent in the summer heat, but one place where this is not the case is a new yard belonging to the Kanoo group.

Unlike the group’s other ventures, the new engineering division is devoted solely to metal fabrication. However, deputy chairman Mishal Kanoo is keen to point out that while opening up to the current oil and gas market is a good plan, the company hasn’t turned its back on construction.

“It is still construction. There are different types, whether it is infrastructure, warehouse construction, oil and gas. All of these require steel fabrication. So we haven’t exactly moved out from our area of experience or expertise. What we have done is added a new dimension into it,” he explained.

While it is certainly the case that the plant can fabricate steel for just about anything, it is also obvious that the main clients are going to be paying with the proceeds of ‘black gold’.

At the time of our visit, which was the official opening day, workers were busy using a special welding process to make some pipeline, while elsewhere in the workshop another team were busy chopping metal and bolting together more precision steels for something else that could only belong on a drilling rig.

There is clever equipment here as well. Besides the usual tools, the plant boasts brand-new plasma welding equipment, as well as the latest in cutting technology such as the OmniPro waterjet.

There is a variety of other high-ticket items, such as Kingsland fixed saws and other fancy gear. Mishal Kanoo was clear that each machine had been bough for a specific job – the firm had not just piled in equipment because it could get a discount during the ressession. “We’d like to think of ourselves as ‘just in time’” he explained.

“Just because I find something 50% of it’s original price doesn’t mean I should buy it as I’ll also be locking away 50% of the value. With things being as tight as they are, we are careful with the equipment we buy.” He added that if a machine is utilised and makes money, then it will, of course, be bought.