Current climate makes flexibility vital

DSI's Saleh Muradweij on corporate flexibility in the current downturn

Saleh Muradweij, executive director: civil, Drake & Scull International PJSC.
Saleh Muradweij, executive director: civil, Drake & Scull International PJSC.

Drake & Scull International PJSC (DSI) is still performing satisfactorily despite the ongoing downturn, says executive director: civils Saleh Muradweij. This because the company has resolutely guarded against putting all its eggs into a single basket.

Just over two years ago it diversified its portfolio of services and established independent functioning units focusing on infrastructure, water and power (IWP) services, in addition to civil contracting. “Together with our large portfolio of mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) projects, this has given us the advantage of diversifying our risks and maintaining growth despite the slowdown,” says Muradweij.

In addition, DSI completed a very successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the third quarter of 2008, with the aim of listing on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM). This eventually transpired on 16 March 2009. “We witnessed an increase in our capital that will allow us to sustain growth easily this year, with an expected increase in profitability of around 25%,” says Muradweij.

But it is not just numbers that have allowed DSI to remain afloat in such a tumultuous market. “I think the human element in DSI has been a key factor in our success. We have an excellent team of dedicated professionals, each of which has been individually picked based on their experience and skills. It is because of our team that we have enjoyed excellent planning and great execution, which has definitely given us an edge in what we do.”

Even Keel

Commenting on the company’s strategy in maintaining an even keel going forward, Muradweij says “no management team or company can survive if they do not have the flexibility to adapt to a changing environment.

“DSI has always had the vision and the willingness to change as the market changes. In 2006, we began developing green solutions. In 2007, we acquired a civil construction company to expand our business. In 2008, we expanded our geographical reach into the areas of Sudan and Bahrain.” So how is DSI managing to cope with ‘business as usual’ in what is essentially an abnormal trading environment?

“We are exporting our engineering capabilities. That is what we do, and we are very good at it. We are working along side developers and governments to help them in building their communities. Our projects in Bahrain and Sudan are examples of this,” explains Muradweij. “We also believe in our people and their development. We are taking advantage of these tougher times to invest in our current team, as well as attracting additional talent.”

Differentiating factor

So what differentiates DSI from the other fish in the pond? “Our vision, our determination and our people,” Muradweij states simply.

“We have been in the UAE for a very long time now – over 40 years. We know the country and the region, and we know our customers. DSI can see the many opportunities and identify which will be the most profitable for it in the long run.

“For example, many companies have only now started looking outside of the UAE. We began this search over a year ago, and now have some very large projects outside the UAE, such as the 65,000 TR district cooling plant in Durrat Al Bahrain.  We also specialise in fast-track turnkey projects because we have the experience, the financial capabilities and the manpower to do so,” asserts Muradweij.

So does Muradweij have a ‘survival tip’ for fellow floundering businesses? “What worked for DSI has been carefully-planned expansions and additions to our business streamlines. It is imperative to have the ability to adapt and be flexible to change.

“Also, companies must invest in their people. A company’s strength lies solely in its human assets, and these assets have to be taken care of and nurtured,” is his firm conclusion.

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