Marshall-Tufflex with the appointment of Svetislav (Bata) Bulajic
Cable-management specialist Marshall-Tufflex has strengthened its presence in the Gulf with the appointment of Svetislav (Bata) Bulajic as international technical sales manager. We talk to Bulajic about technical standards in the region and the latest trends.
What is your background?
I worked for EKA Building systems (EBS) until my move to Marshall-Tufflex (MT) earlier this year. I have been working with modular wiring systems, underfloor busbar power distribution and underfloor air-con systems for almost 15 years. My work with EBS in the GCC market was during the rapid expansion of the raised-access floor market, especially here in the UAE, and along with it complete acceptance of ‘intelligent’ building systems such as modular wiring systems, underfloor-to-desk solutions and flexible air-con systems.
What is your role at MT?
My role is international technical sales manager serving the GCC countries, plus Iran, Iraq and Yemen. With my background in design through to commissioning of a range of solutions, together with my knowledge of local standards and project requirements, I am supporting our clients to meet their ever more demanding needs through what are virtually bespoke design solutions for power and data provision. Modularity and flexibility are our key design parameters, and it is my role to interpret clients’ requirements to provide realistic and successful solutions.
How important is the Middle East region to MT?
Growing our business in the Middle East is a key strategy, and led to the creation of my role to serve our customers here from a UAE base. For the last three years we have exhibited at the Middle East Electricity Show, and will be doing so again in 2011. This focus is underpinned by our experience of almost 30 years in the Middle East market, and recognising that modern building practices are being adopted here with a renewed passion.
What are your opportunities and challenges?
Our main opportunities are coming from the need for reliable, safe and, maybe most importantly, fast and trouble-free power distribution installations using products like our MT32 and MT 507 systems. With our new business – Marshall-Tufflex Energy Management Ltd – our Voltis, Ipsis and Sinergy ranges are ready to make a significant contribution to the UAE green building regulations and energy-saving initiatives. Our continuing challenge is to gain acceptance of total cost-saving models over piecemeal comparisons when alternative solutions are being considered.
How does this market differ from more established regions like the UK and Europe?
I think I could write a book and still not be sure if I have given the right answer to that question. The truth is, as always, somewhere inbetween. The largest international consultants are present in this market – that means that they should bring their experience to the region and specify the best solutions available globally for their clients. At the same time, existing client requirements, cost expectations, comparable local experience and local regulations, as well as climate, can sometimes slow down the adoption of alternative technologies.
However, what we do have here, which is often lacking in the UK and Europe, is the vision to push the boundaries and find solutions to technical problems that seemed insurmountable. In many ways, this region is the biggest technical playground in the world and a great place for us to demonstrate and apply our innovation and experience from almost 70 years in business.
Do sub-standard and cheaper imports still pose an entry barrier? Is the market still particularly price-sensitive following the downturn?
The market here is no different to any other market when it comes to these products. Our main target is developers who recognise that the cost-to-build is just a small fraction of the total lifecycle cost of a building. We are not in competition with lower quality, cheaper products. Through sharing experiences with developers, consultants and contractors, we are able to demonstrate the value our products and service bring to a project. The market is still price-sensitive, but with the comprehensive range of products MT offers, as well as our technical support, we provide a level of service our competitors struggle to match.
Has the downturn affected key markets?
Education and healthcare are increasingly important to us, and through our tailored ranges we are seeing great success, especially here in the UAE. We have not seen a downturn in international business. Even though we recognise the market has shrunk, we have been able to grow our business through our proactive approach. New product ranges, especially in the fields of power distribution and energy management, have supported our growth, as well as continually applying our strengths of quality, service and, above all, flexibility to meet clients’ needs in tight timescales and the ability to provide solutions to add value to their projects.
What is your outlook for growth?
Our outlook in the short term is stability in our traditional ranges of PVCu cable management and steady growth in our power distribution solutions that are being slowly accepted here in the Gulf for all the benefits they bring. We do foresee an improvement before 2011; indeed, we are already doing so. In many ways, the market over the last two years has sharpened project manager and client focus on newer technologies that can deliver total cost improvements, add value to the project, especially on the ‘green’ issues, by reducing waste, improving recycling and re-usability, and enhancements that minimise health and safety risks for contractors. With our energy-management portfolio, we are basing our strategy on the fact we are ready to make a huge contribution to energy saving and the green issues of our time.
Any new product developments?
We are seeing increasing popularity with our bio anti-microbial trunking solutions and have a new twin-compartment range being launched that meets the increasing requirement for more data than power cables being carried in surface-mounted cable management. The range has adjustable bends to accommodate uneven corners and is compatible with our Sterling systems to provide a comprehensive solution.
We are also launching our new range of MT-branded, IP-rated switches, sockets and RCDs called Tuffmaster. The range has a special memory seal to cope with any profile of cable, is robust and durable and suitable for the commercial and domestic market. Adding Tuffmaster to our portfolio continues to extend our power distribution offering.
We do now offer a range of energy-management solutions: intelligent voltage optimisation (Voltis), sub-metering (Sinergy), and hardware and software based electricity management and measurement products (Ipsis). With many of the Gulf states using 230 V to 240 V supplies, we believe there is a great market here for clients to realize the 15% to 25% electricity savings our systems can offer, as well as meeting the carbon reduction targets local governments have set.
Modular wiring seems to be a trend as contractors seek to cut costs, reduce labour and boost health and safety?
Apex Wiring Solutions and Marshall-Tufflex jointly developed the patented miniature connector, rated to 32 A, that can be passed through 25 mm conduit, with Tyco Electronics. For those that have these systems already, they will note our logo as well as Apex’s on the connector body. Our solutions for prefabricated wiring incorporate all our cable management ranges, as well as offering in-wall, above ceiling and underfloor applications. In fact, when combined with our underfloor busbar range 507, MT32 provides a total package for today’s modern commercial premises.
Prefabricated wiring solutions are not new, but have been previously confined to the lighting and heavier commercial applications due to the connector sizes. Our MT32 provides a real alternative to conventional wiring that reduces total project costs, reduces the labour requirement of qualified electricians, enables non-electricians to install the wiring and eliminates waste on-site, as all solutions are designed and manufactured to the client’s specification, and eliminates installation injuries as all units are factory-tested, connections are foolproof by being keyed, and all applications are re-wireable.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to underline once again that our technical and sales teams are dedicated to our customers and this market. We are proactive and offer the best solutions to the most demanding challenges.