THE THIRD-PARTY MAN

Oman 2015 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mahmood Sakhi Al Balushi, CEO of Al Madina Logistics Services Company (AMLS), on 3PL logistical solutions and becoming a major distribution hub.

Mahmood Sakhi Al Balushi
BIOGRAPHY
Mahmood Sakhi Al Balushi is the CEO of Al Madina Logistics Services Company (AMLS). Before this post, he occupied a senior position at the Golden Group of Companies, and between 1989 and 1995 he was an Administrative Supervisor at the Royal Diwan. He has an MBA from Franklin University in Ohio.

What were the factors that led to your expansion in Oman?

We were very clear about our mission and objectives when we started out as a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. In terms of our processes, systems, facilities, and technology, we stuck to our objective of being a true 3PL provider and sought to apply the best available practices. As a result, we received a good response from the market and expanded to where we are now. Today, we're the only company in Oman that provides an integrated distribution center, providing complete certified supply chain services and a cold chain.

In which sectors do you see the most demand and who are your main clients?

As a 3PL provider we provide complete logistical services, be it freight, shipping, clearance, transportation, warehousing, warehouse management, or consulting. So, we're a complete one-stop shop for all of those services. The oil and gas sector is of course the biggest sector of the economy in Oman, so a lot of our business is there. Among our clients are major players like Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), ExxonMobil, Occidental Oman, and Halliburton. In terms of other major sectors, we focus a lot on the FMCG sector, especially frozen foods. We have the only facility that guarantees the supply chain and cold chain in Oman, and it's the only one that is ISO 22000 certified. We're also developing a new concept based on outsourcing your warehousing needs, distribution needs, and value-added services: we take care of your packaging, bar coding, labeling, and, for some clients, we even take care of the translation of their labels and ingredients into Arabic. We take care of all that so companies can just focus on their core business: retail, purchasing, and selling.

What role does technology play in your business?

One of the competitive advantages we have lies in the technology we use and apply to our business. In transport, we have a complete tracking system and can track all freight and cargo anywhere around the world via our web-based system. We also have one of the best warehouse management systems (WMS) in the world, through which we can manage the entire inventory, be it reordering in accordance with expiry days or running special offers before the expiry of products. Also, our facilities are completely paperless and the process is also totally paperless, everything from receiving the goods to dispatching and transferring them. You can manage the whole operation from a smartphone.

Do you have plans to expand your network throughout Oman and even beyond?

Our strategic plan is to expand through partnerships. We're in discussions with major logistics companies in the UAE, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. We're halfway through our discussions, and these partnerships will be investment partnerships. We also have our current network through which we can transport freight to any part of the world.

How much of an effect will all the ongoing infrastructure projects in Oman have on your business?

Infrastructure is a major driver for Oman's plans to become a major logistics hub. The ports, airports, roads, and railways are all going to be a major boost not just for the logistics sector, but the whole economy. The ports are already in place, like Sohar and Salalah, while Duqm is on its way. The airports are already done or being built, of which Muscat, Salalah, and Sohar will be the major ones. The road connections are there directly with the UAE and with Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. There's a third one to connect us to Yemen. With the addition of the railways, Oman will become very competitive indeed. Freight will be transported easier, faster, and more cost effectively. The GCC railway will connect us all the way to Kuwait, and that may then be connected through to Syria and Turkey, and from there into Europe. So yes, we will benefit greatly from all these projects and this new infrastructure in Oman. We will also expand our own logistical facilities in accordance with this growth.