1 May 2015 - GULF CEO 2015

Investing during the low season allowed Hard Precast Building Systems to take advantage of opportunities in the construction sector, says Managing Director Bashar Abou-Mayaleh.

Bashar Abou-Mayaleh, Managing Director of Hard Precast Building Systems (HPBS) LLC, is not one to do any task half-heartedly. Passion, he said, has fuelled his 17-year career at Dubai-based conglomerate Al Shafar Group, where he initiated feasibility studies and oversaw the creation – from the ground up – of two construction-related companies. An industrial engineer by profession, Abou-Mayaleh today is at the helm of HPBS in Dubai Investments Park and Hard Block Factory (HBF) in Jebel Ali, managing their day-to-day operations and over 1,000-strong workforce. While he often speaks in jest about knowing every nut and bolt that went into the construction of both facilities, his statement holds a deeper truth considering his hands-on approach to management. “I believe strongly in the social role of a business and the sense of responsibility that goes with the position in an organisation. Yes, I do have a commitment to the owners and investors to run a viable and profitable business, but I also have a responsibility to create a conducive work environment for our employees because one man alone cannot build a successful company,” he said. This philosophy is embedded in the HPBS company culture, which Abou-Mayaleh said has helped promote a strong sense of loyalty among its staff.

Investing in the Future HPBS sits on a 1-million-square-metre (sqm) plot and its state-of-the-art facility is currently running at full capacity, with a daily output of 1,800 sqm hollow core slabs, 4,000 sqm of walls, 250 cubic metres of structural systems and 500 sqm of glass-reinforced concrete (GRC) panels. In addition, it boasts a design and redesign department equipped with the latest structural and drafting technologies; a substantial fleet of modern heavy vehicles; as well as a team of highly trained erectors with a proven track record of quickly installing precast elements. Investing during the low season, according to Abou-Mayaleh, has been crucial to HPBS’s success story. In 2012 and 2013, for example, when the UAE construction industry was nearly at a standstill and precast concrete prices almost collapsed, HPBS poured money into upgrading its production facilities, acquiring new technologies and machines, and purchasing additional vehicles. He admitted that such strategy put a heavy strain on short-term cash flow, but the efforts paid off in 2014, when Dubai won the right to host Expo 2020 and opened the floodgates for major developments. “When the construction revival happened, we were already well-positioned to take on the influx of projects that were being awarded. One of them is the CityWalk project, a massive retail and residential development in Jumeirah,” he said..

Commitment to Professionalism An unwavering commitment to professionalism, quality and safety standards is the basis for any organisation’s success, Abou-Mayaleh believes. “Planning is also crucial. You have to be able to control the flow of operational activity, making sure that every component of the organisation runs like clockwork so you can avoid delays,” he said. Lastly, implementing the best practices in management and corporate governance is essential in grooming a company ready to take on future challenges, the MD added.