TBY talks to Gert Hoefman, CEO of Oman Cables Industry (OCI), on recent changes, meeting demand, and the outlook for the future.

Gert Hoefman
Gert Hoefman is the CEO of OCI. He is also a member of the board of Associated Cables in Mumbai, India. He graduated as a mechanical engineer and holds an MBA from TSM Business School. He has 25 years of experience in the cable industry and held several CEO positions in the Prysmian Group, as well as the position of Vice-President of Telecom Solutions at its Milan headquarters. Hoefman also held the position of Chairman of Eurotelcab, the European cable manufacturers’ organization in Brussels. In 2016 he was named CEO of the Year by Alam al-Iktisaad Wal A'maal (AIWA), Oman's leading Arabic monthly business magazine.

The Prysmian Group has recently become the majority shareholder of OCI. What are some of the changes that will take place at OCI as a result of this move?

Since 1995 the Prysmian Group is a shareholder in Oman Cables through Draka. The Prysmian Group, which is the largest cable manufacturer in the world, increased its 35% share in OCI in December 2015 to 51% and became the majority shareholder. So today, OCI is an internationally renowned public listed company on the Muscat Securities Market (MSM) and comprises of both local Omani and International investors. There are for sure advantages of having the number one global cable manufacturer as a shareholder. The Prysmian Group has explained that it will share its technology, cable expertise, and access to markets with us. For OCI, this means we now have easier access to different markets, products, and technologies. An important plus for a technology and manufacturing company like OCI in Oman to have a partner that can bring this all on board.

As necessary infrastructure projects and improvements continue in Oman, what role can OCI play, and how are you making sure the demand is met?

Being a company in Oman means the domestic market is our highest priority. Since we have been in this market for such a long time, we are close to our customers. Therefore, when new projects come up, we are already close to our customers and partners, starting at the design phase. This means we can ascertain what the demand will be, what kind of development work we can assist them with, and how we can offer our services so that the cables deployed for a project are the right ones for the job. These projects do not happen overnight, and we ensure we are always ready to supply the domestic market with the cables and solutions they need. For example, OCI supplied all the cables for the new airports in Muscat and Salalah. The railway project has been officially postponed; however, as a company we were already busy preparing our factory to produce the specific cables needed for that development project. With that said, 60% of our sales are to GCC countries other than Oman, effectively making OCI one of the larger exporters in the country. We tend to call the GCC our home market, as Oman on its own is a small market. Out of the many cable producers in the GCC, OCI is the one of the largest and we need the demand for our products outside of Oman. Therefore, focusing on both the domestic and our home markets is how we approach sales as a company.

How is OCI handling the important subject of corporate social responsibility?

OCI's values are to act as responsible corporate citizens in compliance with environmental norms. These key considerations have been formulated at the management level in the mission, vision, and values of the company. The company has energy and material saving programs in place and is also reusing and recycling materials. Drums, the packing for the cables, are sent back to the company and are used again for transporting new cables to the customers. For the cooling systems, water in the factories is reused through a closed-loop cooling system contributing to a substantial saving in the consumption of water. The progress on the various elements of the CSR are closely monitored and updated on a regular basis with new initiatives to stay at the forefront of what can be achieved.

What targets do you have for OCI over the coming 12 months?

Our overall outlook is dominated by the current economic circumstances. Looking at the history of the company, we have a logical focus on achieving a sustainable growth. This movement is expected to continue in the future. Our current product portfolio will be optimized and this represents a natural development for our company.