COOL UNDER PRESSURE

Ras Al Khaimah 2017 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Altaf Pathan, Plant Manager of Guardian RAK, on high-tech research, in-house innovation, and leveraging global ties to weather local storms.

 Altaf Pathan
BIOGRAPHY
Altaf Pathan is an accomplished business management professional with over 20 years' experience in strategic planning, operations management, organizational development, and leadership, primarily within the automotive and manufacturing industry. He has a bachelor’s in chemical engineering and a proven track record of translating strategic goals into operational plans, introducing innovative operational processes and procedures. Pathan has hands-on exposure in driving sales growth and increasing market share and penetrating new markets. He has also been awarded for high standards of safety and environmental compliance. Pathan is currently responsible for P&L for the USD160 million plant and reports to the Group Vice President of Africa, the Middle East, India, and Asia Pacific.

Why did Guardian Glass decide to start operations here in Ras Al Khaimah?

This plant came about in 2007, at a time when the UAE was experiencing a construction sector boom. Guardian Industries Corp. and its partners, The National Glass Manufacturing Company (Zoujaj) and Eastern Company for Industrial Investment Ltd, chose Ras Al Khaimah to expand capacity and meet our customers growing need for glass. Today, Guardian glass can be found on many iconic projects around the world, including the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the clock tower in Makkah, and the Yas Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Where does Guardian RAK focus its exports?

Around 45% of our production stays in the UAE, with the next largest countries being Oman and Qatar. We ship to 44 countries, including Australia and New Zealand, and we currently ship over 200 containers of glass per month to the US. We are supported in the region by another Guardian JV plant in Saudi Arabia. We leverage this plant in the UAE by having access to the ports nearby, so we import materials right into our port in Ras Al Khaimah. At the same time, we ship out containers through the Jebel Ali port to Africa, the Far East, Japan, or New Zealand.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

Our culture and vision are focused on creating value for our customers and society and we constantly innovate to improve the value we create. We are one of the world's largest producers of high-quality, high-performance glass, supplying best-in-class products and services to our customers. When countries such as the UAE or Bahrain launch their building initiatives, we are ready with our products and we make sure that our employees are also ready to rise to the challenge. Guardian is at the forefront of technology. At Guardian's Science and Technology Center in Michigan, award-winning scientists are continuously working on new products. Our new Guardian SunGuard® HD Plus glass series, now being produced with a new coater in Saudi Arabia, is a direct result of listening to what our customers needed in the region.

How has Guardian adapted its products to the climate conditions in the GCC?

The new vacuum magnetron sputter coater at our Saudi Arabia plant—the first of its kind in the region—is an example. New regulations require buildings to maintain minimum insulation properties, only achievable with coated glass. Guardian's high-performance, energy-efficient products provide unsurpassed insulating properties to facade glass. Guardian coated glass products can also support the newly formed Saudi Energy Efficiency Center and its mission to reduce energy consumption. This new coater allows Guardian to develop and produce coatings to meet these specific requirements of the region. Customers in the UAE and across the region depend on Guardian Glass for products that not only make living in such climates more comfortable, but also more energy efficient. Architects across the region use Guardian Glass products in order to meet building codes without compromising their architectural objectives.

What is Guardian RAK's strategy against the region's current economic slowdown?

We have seen some challenges domestically but, as a global company, we have many options, and Guardian RAK has many customers outside the region. We ship our glass to more than 44 countries. Guardian has 25 float glass facilities like Guardian RAK around the world and our sales and marketing teams are always looking for new ways to create value for our customers.

How do you see the future of the glass industry in the Middle East and the UAE?

It is still strong in the UAE, and we see that projects are moving fast. Our customers are constantly asking for shorter delivery times. In the Middle East, where intense sunlight and high temperatures are a fact of life, coated glass is becoming an essential building material. Guardian is prepared to meet the needs of the region for high performance glass.