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Ali Khalaf, Managing Director, Reynaers Middle East, spoke to Technical Review about the company's innovative products, iconic projects and its growing push into more markets
Khalaf helped set up Reynaers Middle East back in 2004, the offshoot of a Belgium-based parent company founded in 1956. He has been at the helm as the regional arm established itself as a leading high quality aluminium system suppliers.
The Middle East subsidiary and regional office is based in Bahrain and covers the entire GCC area, plus Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.
Khalaf described Reynaers as "whole solution suppliers". The company specializes in providing aluminium building solutions for the likes of window facades, skylights, and conservatives which are all related to architectural end systems.
Reynaers are also "involved sometimes in a project from the design stage with the consultants and architects on the design project, when we give our support through details, calculations, price projects and solutions."
Khalaf explained that Reynaers uses authorized fabricated in each of the countries in which it operates which are using its products, but Reynaers are not manufacturers. "We supply the material, profile, accessories, know-how and technical support. Then our fabricated will get the material and cut the required stock for a project," Khalaf said.
Khalaf talked about Reynaers main target markets in Gulf and further afield. "Our main markets change each year. It depends where we secure big projects. But what is good is that Bahrain is always our second biggest market," Khalaf added.
"Unfortunately, this year the market is a bit slow in Bahrain. There are projects still going on and we have some big projects still remaining. But to date overall our biggest market is Saudi Arabia," observed Khalaf.
Khalaf expanded on the company's attempts to make real inroads into the Saudi market.
"We started working in Saudi a few years back on a small scale but we knew the importance of the Saudi market which was developing because of its size. That is why at the beginning of this year, during the 2nd quarter we recruited new area managers in the Kingdom," he said.
Reynaers now have one sales manager based in the middle of Saudi in Risen, another based at the Red Sea in Jean to cover Saudi west, while a third manager based in Bahrain covers Saudi east.
In the last few months, Khalaf believes the Qatar market has started moving, with most of projects from Reynaers in the gas-rich emirate now active. Also the number of projects on which proposals have been submitted in Qatar are increasing.
Khalaf argued that the wave of World Cup related projects will not be happening anytime soon. "They are still in the design stage and it will take 2-3 years before we see projects being awarded. But what is coming is going to be very promising. A World Cup needs a lot of infrastructure," he said.
Khalaf commented on Reynaers's markets outside the GCC: "we have been in Egypt since 2010 and we have an area manager there. The market is active again and after the coming election, we see a lot of potential. We are also thinking of opening a fully fledged representative office there. The aim would be to set up an office that would be able to cover the surrounding area with at least 1st technical support capabilities."
He added that the hope is for this office to be opened by the end of this year.
Khalaf discussed the company's ironic projects around the region. "We have one from 2006, which is the Aspire tower in Qatar. In 2009, we worked on the funnel in the Ferrari theme park in Abu Dhar. Working on these ironic projects has certainly opened doors for us."
"We are now in the process of supplying two projects with the same team that worked on the Ferrari project, which is the Cleveland hospital in Abu Dhar. We are also working on 300 skylights for the new convention centre in Qatar. The design is complete and we are in the process of doing the mock up samples," said Khalaf.
He pointed out that these projects, Aspire and Ferrari, are great examples of be spoke solutions and not just a standard solution, adding: "To satisfy the requirement of be spoke projects, our technical team have to adapt our system to suit the requirements. Each project has its own criteria. The biggest so far was for Ferrari world in terms of newly designed items in that project."
"Our products satisfy the entire market from residential to commercial, from the small windows and doors to the value end highly sophisticated façade. This makes us unique compared to the competition," said Khalaf.
R&D is very important to Reynaers, Khalaf pointed out: "Three years ago we set up our own lab in Bahrain. So we have our own quality check facility in the region, enabling us to give the approval from here. We are one of the only companies in the region with our own quality lab as a system supplier in-house."
On products, Khalaf's claimed that the company was always working on new ones. "We keep adding and updating. This is driven by market demand," he said.
In the last few months, Reynaers has launched new folding doors. They have also launched a new sliding system – CP130.There is also a new fire-rated doors which can go up to 60 minutes.
"Also, because of the requirements in the region we sometimes adapt European products to change a bit for the Middle East style. CP130 is one example; it is a thermal broken system. A thermal break system in the Middle East is yet to have a very high demand. But we do have a demand for sliding doors. So we converted the CP 130 from thermal to non-thermal," added Khalaf.
In the first quarter of next year, a new product will be launched which will be hinge and sliders which will be termed the economical series. Work will start on the hinge series first and then the sliding series.
"Our aim is to tackle the medium level projects and mass volume projects. We need to have two projects, one that targets the high market and one that targets the middle level."
"2012 is looking more promising than this year. We are trying to make ourselves more visible. We are intending to do more visits, more seminars and participate in more exhibitions," Khalaf concluded.
Reynaers will be participating in The Big 5 which runs from 21-24 November, 2011 and will have a stand in the Belgium pavilion and they will be exhibiting important products for the UAE market, plus new products the company plans to bring to the market next year.
Khalaf said: "Competition is high and this is why we must make ourselves unique and ensure that the service is of the highest standard."