PIONEERING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Dubai 2020 | INDUSTRY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Atheeqe Ansari, CEO of Electric Way, on government support for SMEs, Expo 2020, and adding value to the supply chain.

How have you pioneered the sector and what progress has been made in that regard?

We were lucky to start our business in 2003 when the economy took an upswing with the meteoric rise in the construction sector in UAE. It was a good time to be in business and growth came by managing customers, suppliers, and inventory. However, we soon realized that that we had to be different than the rest if we had to continue to grow irrespective of the economic vagaries. We embarked on the journey of process improvement and innovation to usher in a new paradigm in our history. We built a new state of the art distribution center and defined a system of processes and work flows encapsulating the steps of the supply chain ecosystem, commencing with the goods rolling out from the manufacturer to the final customer. We interviewed our customers to discover their pain points and identified the services that would bring service and cost efficiencies. Next, we hired the best consultants to put together a technology platform that would help us automate as well as expedite the processes with a single objective of enhancing customer satisfaction. We believe that we pioneered the use of technology and best management practices in a traditional sector turning the stockist into a value-added-distributor and thus gaining an equally important place in the supply-chain ecosystem.

How do you assess the opportunities for growth in Dubai and beyond?

Dubai is a non-stop juggernaut and continues to exceed expectations. In an economic climate like this growth is natural, and despite the impacts of regional imbalances and global slowdown, we see Electric Way maintain its pace of progress. We project to grow multi-fold in the near horizon within three to five years and have stretched begun our expansion plans to double the capacity of our distribution center. We are going up the ladder of value-added-services and will be offering advanced services to our customers that will enhance their procurement efficiency, cut inventory carrying costs and reduce administrative effort. All of these are being enabled by a host of innovative technology and tested processes. We continue to grow in our focus sectors that include oil & gas, energy, construction, MEP, and manufacturing and also exploring new sectors where our innovative services can add value to our customers. Our plan is to grow our business in Abu Dhabi and northern Emirates, while our regional plans are to expand our operations in Saudi Arabia and open offices in India. We hope to see top-line growth coming from regional expansion while our bottom-line growth will come from enhancing our value-added-services enabled by customer serving technology.

How do you convey this message and promote yourselves as an innovative focal point in the sector?

Our facility in NIP is a true reflection of the digital transformation that has taken place in Electric Way and our state-of-the-art warehouse and equipment will give visitors a glimpse of this. Customers are already experiencing the speed at which we do business and are impressed with the array of value-added-services we offer in comparison to our competitors. Our technology roadmap is in motion and we plan to launch a transparent and efficient customer portal that will become an industry standard for end-user interactions.

How does the government support SMEs to grow in the way Electric Way has developed into a regional player?

We are blessed with great leaders like His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He is not just a visionary but also ensures that his vision translates into actions that benefit businesses. The Dubai SME is a great platform to support the SME sector and the other measures of the government have made it easier for genuine businesses to get finance and realize their growth potential. We are grateful to the banks in the country for the confidence they have in the SME sector and equally thankful for the business friendly processes of all government departments dealing with trade. The ongoing efforts to bring accountability and establishing credibility of business partners is helping businesses to thrive. Moreover, the UAE has proved to be a great hub in the region for all types of businesses including manufacturing, trading and services owing to its fantastic infrastructure.

How will Expo 2020 influence Dubai, and what role will Electric Way play in the expo?

Expo 2020 will be great milestone in Dubai's history and we are hoping that it will catapult the overall economy of the country. As a supplier to the various EXPO projects, we are thrilled to be a part of such a globally visible project and we feel immense prestige in being associated with it. Electric Way is working with large contractors and supplying a wide range of electrical and construction material for the pavilions and EXPO facilities. Our innovative services such as Just-in-Time are attracting new customers who are working under tight deadlines and budgets. We hope that the Expo 2020 will attract not just tourists but many other people including entrepreneurs and investors who will find Dubai a place to start new ventures and use it as a launch pad to bring their businesses to the region, thus benefiting us all.

What is your long-term vision for Electric Way?

Our long-term vision is to be the largest value-added distributor in the markets we serve. We aim to grow not just in terms of volume, but also in terms of the value we bring to the supply-chain ecosystem. We see ourselves as a conduit for change in the way the trading and distribution business is being done in the UAE and in the region. We want to have a global footprint with a seamless offering across all our branches enabled by technology. Most importantly, we want to be a team of happy people achieving positive growth by working for the happiness of our customers.