TBY talks to Hassem Hussain Helmy, CEO of UNIVEST, on major changes, the market, and R&D.

 Hassem Hussain Helmy
Hassem Helmy is the CEO of UNIVEST and has over 25 years of experience in different business fields. He spent the previous 10 years as sales and marketing director for Saudi Lighting Co. Helmy leads the company’s short and long term goals in the entire GCC and MENA region.

What have been the major changes at UNIVEST since 2014?

UNIVEST as a company was established in 1976. We believe we need to review and evaluate our short and long term strategies. By asking ourselves where we are and where we want to go, in this sense we have implemented major changes in our business by adding more resources, machineries and people, focusing on the market needs and trends, a branding campaign to re-introduce ourselves to the market with a fresher and younger look, at the same time maintaining our high quality standards. At UNIVEST, we produce all kind of decorative and industrial coatings, meeting an ever increasing market demand. We are a 100% Saudi company; we have social obligations to our employees and our environment through our paint academy and various training programs. We invest in people and products. We are indeed investing for the future.

How is the competition in Saudi Arabia for UNIVEST and what sets you apart in the market?

The Saudi market is a dynamic market that has lots of major local and international players, particularly in the decorative paints sector. We see ourselves among the top five paint brands in the country as we are 100% Saudi with international quality standard paints and great services, and our market share is growing. We have been known since our establishment by the quality of our products and our team of experts in paints, which cover the entire country. In 2015 as the market faced a big challenge due to the fall in oil prices, we started mapping out a three year strategy, adding new resources and more infrastructure, which helped us maintain our market share. At UNIVEST we believe we are on the right track, what sets us apart from competitors are two words: quality and service.

What are some of your specialized applications and products in terms of R&D?

R&D is our main key factor of success. UNIVEST pays much attention to renewing and re-equipping its lab and hiring talented R&D chemists, operating with latest ideas and technologies in eco-friendly paints, leed-free coatings, anti-bacterial paints, kids paints, magnetic paints, and more. Our R&D team is developing new interior and exterior special effect products and we are aiming to launch them before the year end.

How do you tailor your products to up-and-coming industrial projects in the country?

Our R&D experts are working under a clear umbrella strategy for developing our existing products, identifying needs for new applications that serve the industrial business segments. We specialize in adhesives, wood, metal paints, can and coil coatings, and many other products that serve the industrial sector. As for the new projects, we tailor all the required and needed products for new projects as per the specs required. We have the flexibility and capacity to do so. In this regard, the cycle to introduce, launch or modify any product goes through a long and complicated process of various tests; heat, dust, wind, and sand as per our own standards and specifications and keeping in mind the fluctuations in weather to meet our clients' and consumers' requirements. Quality is the name of the game.

What are you expecting from 2017?

I am always optimistic. The company is moving forward and focusing on training, launching new products and overall benefiting from the healthy business environment in the Saudi market. UNIVEST is a Saudi company proudly working within Vision 2030 outlines which paves the way for new investments. It is a strong and healthy economy and we have to be ready. There will be huge competition, which is healthy for any economy's growth and customer service, and we are ready to compete and face the challenges.