Driving growth through local supply chains in the ME
Brett Smyth, general manager of Ideal Industries for the EMEA, discusses the firm's growth plans into the GCC through its distribution networks by identifying trends and innovation
A global leader in electrical accessories, tools and equipment, Ideal Industries has been part of the construction industry supply chain in the US for more than a century. Its success has been founded on a market-driven approach to developing products that help to save time and reduce costs, while improving quality, ease of use and buildability.
The company first brought its focus on product quality, innovation and customer service to the Middle East market just eight years ago, working through a network of distributors in the region to supply major projects including Abu Dhabi Airport expansion, Riyadh Metro and Palm Jumeirah. Since then, it has built on these foundations, consolidated relationships with developers, contractors and distributors and set its sights on accelerated growth across the Gulf states and beyond.
Much of the drive to increase Ideal Industries’ presence in the Middle East has been prompted by the appointment of Brett Smyth as general manager for the EMEA region. Smyth took up the post in early 2019, having previously spent almost a decade in senior commercial roles for a fire, security and HVAC supplier to the construction sector.
Smyth explains: “Much of my career at my previous company was focused on developing relationships in the Middle East and devising a market strategy for the region that would achieve growth and answer the specific requirements of Middle East construction projects.
“It’s experience that has given me a lot of insight into how Ideal Industries can work with developers and contractors in the region to support superior installation values and compliance, while offering affordability and ease of installation.
“When I took up my post at Ideal Industries, I was keen to ensure that my knowledge and experience of the Middle East was embedded in our strategy. That focus is now having a demonstrable effect on our growth in the region.”
A key element of Ideal Industries’ growth strategy in the Middle East is the company’s local supply chain. Ideal Industries can supply its products to the region direct from Sharjah in the UAE and has established distributor relationships across the Gulf states, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
Over the past 18 months, Ideal Industries has been building on its existing distributor relationships, in terms of both numbers and geographical reach, in order to connect with customers and offer local expertise.
“We see our distributors as partners in the Middle East,” Smyth continues, “which involves a bilateral commitment. They support us by generating sales and providing a local interface with customers day-to-day, and we support them with training, marketing materials and technical support. This model means that we can provide genuine expertise across a very large geography and contribute to growth across the delivery chain.”
Meeting Construction Standards
Ideal Industries’ distributor network continues to grow in the Middle East but the company is also working with procurement groups and contractors in the region. The benefits of its UL and CE compliant products in achieving improved reliability and compliance of electrical and data networks, along with easier, faster and more consistent installation are central to these relationships.
“Our knowledge of the Middle East region means we understand the importance of providing products that are certified to both US and UK standards because the standards preferred can vary from project to project and from state to state. Working with a trusted, international brand that can advise on product selection is an important element of installation integrity and enables contractors to provide tangible quality assurance to their clients.”
In addition to emphasising Ideal Industries’ supply chain, customer interface and compliance benefits for projects in the Middle East, Smyth is also clearly focused on ensuring the company’s products can add value and resolve common issues in the region.
Smyth continues: “When we first started supplying products for projects in the region, our activity was focused on our Yellow 77 product, an electrical lubricant which is ideal for the long cable pulls typical in Middle East construction and for the hot dry climate.
“Understanding the specific site conditions, the skills and experience of the workforce and the property development trends in each of the Middle East countries where we’re active helps us to identify the products we should bring to market here and the areas where we should invest in further innovation.”
A prime example of how this market knowledge is informing Ideal Industries’ commercial strategy is the growth of the data centre sector in the UAE and the prominence of smart buildings across the region. For these projects, Ideal Industries is supplying the company’s FT-45 system, an alternative to traditional RJ45 data cabling terminations. The system includes single-piece connectors that avoid any need to trim conductor wires to an accurate length; instead, allowing installers to simply remove an appropriate section of jacket and the centre spline if there is one, untwist the pairs into the right order, and trim the ends flat. The Feed-Thru modular plugs are designed for use with Ideal Industries’ versatile crimp tool, which shears the excess conductor wires, leaving a smooth, flat finish in a single action.
Concluding on his thoughts, Smyth explains: “The FT-45 system is typical of the products we are bringing to the Middle East market because it’s designed to aid speed and consistency of installation, so it can be used by operatives with minimal training and experience.
“Another example is our range of twister connectors, which provide a fast, simple, low cost and reusable alternative to terminal blocks for termination of any solid, stranded or flexible wires.
“We understand the pressures of tight programmes, challenging site environments and high-end quality expectations and our range in the Middle East has been tailored to respond to those market characteristics.”