Face to face: Eng Hamad Al Ameri, Trojan Holding
Eng Hamad Al Ameri, the man behind UAE-based Trojan Holding, explains how his home-grown contracting outfit is helping to shape both the regional and international construction markets
Eng Hamad Al Ameri can be perfectly described as a man who loves to build things. Single-handedly, he started Trojan Holding in the UAE, back in 2009, with small caravans on site doubling up as offices. Now, after seven years of operating successfully in the country, Ameri can boast of several business verticals with more than 25,000 employees across the world.
Today, the parent company boasts nine subsidiaries, which include Trojan General Contracting (TGC), specialised in mass housing projects; National Projects & Construction (NPC), specialised in high-rise and infrastructure projects; Royal Advance Electromechanical Works; Reem Emirates Aluminum & Glass Factory; Hitech Precast & Block Works Factory; Al Maha Modular steel structures factory; Phoenix Timber Factory; and Reem Readymix Factory. Including its presence in the UAE and Bahrain, the contractor has an impressive global footprint, covering countries like Jordan, Morocco, the Seychelles, Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Ameri begins: “We started in 2009 with a villa project worth approximately $21.7m (AED80m), and then there was no looking back. Our current annual turnover is around $1.3bn (AED5bn), and we grew almost 12% in 2014-15.”
Staying true to his selective nature when taking up projects, Ameri always believes in bidding on the right developments, at the right time, and in the right places. The contractor is currently pursuing hospitality projects in Belarus and mixed-use tower projects in Serbia. “We are eyeing projects in all the countries that we are operational in. Wherever there are big projects that fit the bill for us, we are willing to participate.”
In the UAE, Trojan is in the process of delivering 5,000 villas in Al Ain and 470 nearly completed villas at Akoya by Damac. On the global stage, the contractor has already finished 200 small townhouses in the Seychelles.
Always ready to take up fresh challenges, Ameri has successfully led his team to deliver projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. He explains: “In Iraq, we have already delivered the first phase of a huge community project, and currently we are working on the second phase. In Afghanistan, we have already delivered 111 buildings, fully designed and built by us.
“Both of these markets are very interesting. I have a good and qualified team working there, comprising multiple nationalities from all across the world. We try to implement our UAE know-how and building techniques [across all of our overseas] projects.”
The contractor plans to enter Saudi Arabia by the end of this year or early in 2017, as Ameri believes this is a favourable juncture. “I think it’s the best time to begin operations in Saudi, because a lot of big companies are going bankrupt, and there is a lot of work that demands good contractors there. It is our time to get in there and start afresh. Saudi has a lot of projects, and the domestic demand in the kingdom is huge. We need to be selective, and should know where, how, and which projects to work on.”
Within its diverse portfolio of projects, Trojan can boast of impressive hotels in Abu Dhabi, which include the St Regis Corniche and the Holiday Inn in Dana, to name just two. Ameri says: “The projects are not only restricted to our contracting division; we participate in them through our companies as well. We have worked on hotels like the Viceroy Dubai, Al Raha Beach hotel, and the Palm Tower on Reem Island.”
The contractor is not focused on the commercial market, although it has completed four office buildings on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi. He adds: “The market is not favourable for a commercial product; it’s absolutely residential-leaning.”
Being a predominantly oil-based economy, the falling prices have definitely hurt regional market sentiments, with project awards getting delayed and government spending slashed. This has forced the contractor to cut down its costs as well.
Ameri says: “The dropping of the oil prices meant that our costs will be dropped as well. I would agree that there is a little drop in the number of tenders issued in the region, but there is no stop to work. The margins are definitely lower, but it depends on how much profit you want to make. If you are looking at making huge profits, then I would suggest it’s not a good time. If you want to work and make reasonable profit, you will always find a job to do.”
While the price of oil does have an impact on the contractor, it in no way affects the quality of its work. “When oil prices go down, all the other costs go down,” Ameri explains. “To offset that, the cost of the materials is reduced; profits generated are not huge but, also, not below expectations [either]. Also, we are a one-stop shop – we have a huge technical team working on every small and large element of a building. We are a group that can deliver everything in-house. We do not depend on sub-contractors; we are financially strong and are capable of delivering any project on time.”
Ameri was bullish about business in H1 2016, considering the build-up to Expo 2020 and other events. “Being a home-grown brand, we know this market; it’s constantly absorbing people, which keeps the business cycle running. I think we are definitely going to go up, with more projects in the pipeline and more tenders being awarded,” he notes.
A graduate of American University Dubai and an engineer by profession, Ameri always prioritises the wellbeing of his staff. “[Having been] on the other side, I know that my team is the most important thing. We work day and night to make Trojan one of the biggest and [most] formidable names in the region.”
Ameri concludes: “My staff can come to me at any time of the day; we are one big family at Trojan. We have people who [have been] working with us from day one. We want to be present at the right place and at the right time to project ourselves as a home-grown flag-bearer of the UAE.”