CAPABLE HANDS

Oman 2015 | INDUSTRY & MINING | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Gert Hoefman, CEO of Oman Cables Industry (OCI), on being one of the GCC's premier cable manufacturers and the need for Omani companies to add value to their products and services.

Gert Hoefman
BIOGRAPHY
Gert Hoefman is CEO of Oman Cables Industry and a board member of Oman Aluminium Processing Industries. He is also a member of the board of Associated Cables in Mumbai, India. He graduated as a Mechanical Engineer and has an MBA from TSM Business School. He has 23 years of experience in the cable industry and held several high-ranking positions in the Prysmian Group, as well as the position of Vice-President of Telecom Solutions at its Milan headquarters. He also held the position of Chairman of Eurotelcab, the European cable manufacturers' organization in Brussels.

How has Oman Cables Industry (OCI) developed over the last few years?

OCI is a young company, as are most companies in this country. We are just 30 years old. We started off as a small manufacturing outfit, and have grown year-by-year. We learned that to continue growing in this industry, you have to provide added value. From the beginning, OCI took the innovation approach, meaning we focus on creating greater value added. This is how the company got to where it is today, being one of the largest industrial companies in the Sultanate of Oman.

What are the key drivers that are supporting your growth?

Continuous innovation and a focus on what we call operational excellence are at the core of OCI. Of course, you also need a fundamental and robust demand for cable products. Today, we export about 60% of our production, so we are not limited to the Omani market. We manage our industrial processes in a way that we apply and deploy the best practices in all fields. We also actively support the industrialization of the country, and there are many spin-offs for the local economy. This is part of our in-country value (ICV) approach. Still, Oman needs more innovation, and Omani companies need to focus more on value added creation so as to grow and remain competitive in the global economy.

How will the recent major infrastructure projects in Oman benefit your business?

The infrastructure projects will benefit us greatly in general, and not only us but the whole industry and also the general economy of Oman. At OCI, we purchase a lot of materials. Perhaps around 500 containers a month arrive in the harbor here just for us, and another 600 trucks per month distribute our products. The container terminal move from Muscat to Sohar, where the facilities are much more modern, is an example of the importance of modern infrastructure. New infrastructure projects are implementing state-of-the-art systems to speed up the services.

You recently brought online an advanced test laboratory. What is the importance of R&D for Oman Cables?

Cable manufacturing is a competitive industry. There are more than 30 cable companies in the GCC, of which we are among the biggest. Not all of those companies produce high-quality products; however, we do, and that is our advantage. Hence, to maintain our quality advantage, we need to continue innovating, which entails R&D. Our cables are not a consumable product that you use and dispose of, so quality is key. Through our new test laboratory, we are assuring our clients that our cables have a long lifespan of up to 30 years. We use quality materials, machinery, and skilled workers. The fundamentals are simple; the daily routine requires a strong focus on operational excellence.

You recently signed a contract to supply cables to Saudi Arabia. Are you very active in the GCC and the wider region?

Oman is our domestic market, but we consider the GCC our home market. We have offices in all the GCC countries, and I require my people to understand the Saudi Arabian market as well as the Omani one. We export to all GCC countries, although the Saudi market is the largest. Our exports to these countries are balanced. Beyond the GCC, we have also decided to focus on further export markets as an area of potential market development. We are also looking into Iraq and maybe even Iran in the near future, depending on political developments.