100% SAUDI COMPANY

Saudi Arabia 2016 | ECONOMY | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Mohammed E. Bundakji, Group Managing Director of Initial Saudi Group (ISG), on differentiation, medium-term goals, and expectations for 2016.

Could you provide us with a recap of ISG's history?

Our origins date back to 1975 with Duraclean, a U.S. franchise that later in 1986 merged with Initial Saudi Arabia Ltd. a British joint venture between Initial Plc. a UK based company and our founder Mr. Faris Bundakji who later on merged the two companies to form (ISG) Initial Saudi Group (as it is known today) a 100% Saudi company. Since then the group has grown organically by way of mergers into several complementary services. Originally established as a cleaning company based in Jeddah, today our offices are spread out across the Kingdom with our main regional offices in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Dammam supported by satellite offices in another 15 locations covering the entire country. Initially operating with approximately 200 company members providing basic cleaning services, Initial today employs' over 15,000 people that cover all aspects of Managed Services that a client may need, including cleaning, maintenance, landscaping, pest control, landscaping (hardscape & softscape), property management services and security services and solutions. An example of the projects we are involved currently servicing would include King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), the Royal Commission for Yanbu, Toyota Abdul Latif Jameel, Sovola, and Kanoo to name a few, while some clients are being serviced for over 25 years which include the last three companies mentioned above.

How would you describe ISG's relationship with the major international companies you have as clients?

The role we play in our relationships with our clients is that of a strategic partner by providing turnkey solutions that enable our clients to concentrate on their core business goals and objectives rather than needing to worry about the management and operations of their facilities as well as the Human Resources needed to manage those properties. Through our buffet of services our clients benefit from a hassle-free experience, with all services provided to them under one agreement for all their needs, requirements and managed through one service level agreement (SLA) resulting in a Total Integrated Facility Management Solution that saves our clients time, effort, and most importantly cost at a high-quality standard that is expected of us.

What would you say are the most important elements that makes ISG different from the other companies in your sector in Saudi Arabia?

What I can say are the elements that make the company successful operating in today's market include the ability to adapt to a changing market, constantly developing strategies, dedication to high standards, and most of all an awareness of our clients changing needs together with our one-stop-shop of services I mentioned in my previous answer we feel that we are poised to constantly provide a quality offering. An example of developing strategy our organisation recently added to the list of our services, Recruitment & Outsourcing. This particular ISG subsidiary company named Workforce Saudia was created as a wholly owned closed joint stock company capitalized at SAR 100 Million and licensed by the Ministry of Labor to provide long and short-term outsourcing and manpower solutions to the commercial & domestic household sectors such as drivers, maids, cooks, and care takers under the household category while we provide engineers, technicians, IT specialists, general labor and any other category needed, even a CEO. In conclusion, we feel as an organization these elements are what enables us to be resilient in today's market.

What trends do you see for the market over the medium term?

I see an encouraging trend driven by a higher demand for quality. Saudi Arabia was once a price-driven market to a large extent. Now, our observations of the market say clients are moving towards a quality-driven demand, are more concerned of about their ROI, and knowledgeable about facility management.

What role does ISG play in a given market?

ISG has always positioned itself as playing a Support Role to the markets changing needs. Historically our organization has derived its development and expansion from its clients and market needs, which led us as I mentioned earlier into developing the many different complementary services that we provide today. In addition to this role, we like to think that we contribute to the quality of standards in the market and its development in different ways.

What are your goals and expectations for 2016?

2016 is going to be an interesting year for us, the organization has taken on some challenges this year with high expectations on returns. Some of these goals are for example our new ORACLE ERP system that is being implemented across the group which alone is an extraordinary task. To add to this we have also taken on the establishment of new internal KPI's, procedures to further streamline our operations and best practice protocol's which will together with tech upgrades enable us to track supervise and deliver our services in a more comprehensive manner. Finally, developing our Local Talent, our HR has taken on a large training and development program that includes aims towards training our Saudi Human Resources through training programs such as “SNAP" Saudi National Acceleration Program, thanks to which we are proud to state that we have successfully trained 200 /Saudi Nationals to date educating them in skill sets such as sales, marketing, and operations thus far with more programs being developed constantly. With the successful completion of our goals we expect to be a leaner yet robust organization providing a smarter solution to our clients in the Saudi market.