Five minutes with: Frank Ackland, Eaton ME

Frank Ackland, general manager of Eaton Middle East, explains why his firm has decided to exhibit at The Big 5 for the first time in 2015

INTERVIEWS, Big 5, Projects, Eaton

What is the story behind Eaton Middle East?

Eaton was founded in the US in 1900 as a partnership between inventor Viggo Torbensen and business man Joseph Eaton, originally manufacturing axles for trucks. The company has evolved over the century into the reputed power management firm it is today through acquisitions and intelligent market decisions. Currently, Eaton has approximately 102,000 employees globally, and its 2014 sales amounted to $22.6bn.

Could you please tell us more about Eaton’s presence in the Middle East?

Eaton has been operating in the Middle East for more than four decades. It has contributed to the development of the region’s infrastructure, with power management solutions that include legacy brands Westinghouse, Bill, MEM, Cutler-Hammer, Powerware, and Moeller. Eaton Middle East employs more than 300 people in 15 offices across the region, with.

The company boasts numerous manufacturing and sales offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Cairo, Dammam, Riyadh, Doha, Manama, Kuwait City, Amman, and Beirut.

What is Eaton’s area of specialty?

Eaton is a power management company, primarily functioning in the distribution of electrical and fluid power. We help customers manage electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical power across a range of segments, including holistic solutions for the commercial construction industry.

This is your first year at The Big 5 – what prompted Eaton to participate in the show this year?

The Big 5 has a long history, having grown to become one of the region’s and world’s best known events for the building and construction sectors. We see our participation as an excellent opportunity to tell our story in the region, specifically in the commercial construction industry, where our portfolio covers low and medium voltage switch gears, wiring and accessories, emergency lighting and evacuation, as well as home automation and control technologies.

What sort of products or services does Eaton plan to promote at this year’s show?

Eaton will be showcasing its products through an experience centre that aims to highlight our services in an as-live working environment.

The objective is to show our products in their own right, as well as the way in which each fits together to provide resilient, reliable, and efficient energy configurations across the complete construction journey.

Are you introducing any new products to the Gulf market at this exhibition, or targeting a new market in the region?

Our presence at The Big 5 is focused on our growing work within the commercial construction market.

It is also an excellent platform to get a feel for the trends in the industry and support our plans for the coming year, which will include some new products for the market.

In terms of the business, how has Eaton fared in 2015?

We have continued to grow in the Middle East in 2015, most notably in the power distribution segment, despite trying market conditions around the world.

We have a strong network of channel partners, distributors, and panel builders across the region, which are important to the growth of our business.

Like most organisations, we feel cautiously optimistic about 2016, particularly when we consider the global pattern of decline and instability in oil prices.

What does Eaton foresee for the GCC construction sector in 2016? What are the firm’s main markets here?

We anticipate our main markets, the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, will temper slightly as economic conditions fluctuate globally. Nonetheless, 2015 has still seen large billion dollar projects being announced in the construction sector.

With Expo 2020, 2022 FIFA World Cup, and the Middle East as one of the largest regions globally to move towards urbanisation, we are optimistic that opportunities in the construction industry will continue into 2016.

Please share any of Eaton’s recent significant developments in the region with our readers.

Eaton has increased its footprint in the Middle East significantly over the past few years, with the acquisition of Cooper Industries in 2012, as well as the inauguration of the new regional headquarters and a manufacturing plant in Dubai.

Eaton also recently opened a component assembly centre (CAC) in Dubai, and the firm currently assembles low and medium voltage switchboards and control panels at its Dubai TechnoPark facility.

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