Trojan Holding’s managing director says running the firm as a big family has kept it strong
Ten years seems like a long time in terms of a human lifespan – one goes from a child to an adult in a decade, while around us things can change quite drastically. A decade ago, in 2009, the world was a very different place – Barack Obama was the first African American US president, Avatar was set to become the biggest movie in history, and the world’s economies were still reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis.
However, for a company, 10 years is nothing more than the blink of an eye, especially in a setting as dynamic and shifting as the UAE construction market. In order to survive such an environment, it’s essential for a company to be proactive, adaptable and adhere to a core set of values that guide its course.
This is what Eng Hamad Al Ameri, managing director of Trojan Holding, tells Big Project ME during an interview that celebrates the company’s tenth anniversary. Having launched the company when the local construction landscape was at its lowest ebb, the challenge for him has always been about making sure that Trojan Holding and its subsidiaries stick to the values he espouses.
“The whole idea was to found a company that is really honest, that wants to just do the right thing. I was a government employee at the time who had nothing to do with business, but the need at the time was for someone honest and transparent,” he asserts, speaking in his office at the company’s headquarters in Mafraq Industrial Area, Abu Dhabi.
Having started the group with Trojan General Contracting in 2009, Ameri has overseen its growth into a major player in the UAE construction industry, with eight subsidiaries under its umbrella. These include National Projects and Construction LLC (NPC), Royal Advance Electromechanical Works. Reem Emirates Aluminium & Glass Factory, Hi-Tech Concrete Products, Al Maha Modular Industries, Phoenix Timber Factory and Reem Readymix.
“We started Trojan to see what the market reaction was, and it was great. People appreciated the close contact between the leadership of the companies and the customers, the fast action and the transparency. Problems and mistakes happen, regardless of all parties, but at the time we had an aim and a goal that we wanted to be honest and transparent so that we could get the best quality on time, and with the right value for our clients,” he says.
“Price is not the only thing that matters. The history of companies tells you about their capabilities. There are a lot of newcomers, and others going out fast as well [in this industry]. You have to be careful. Not everybody can do what they present. Our market is so open, everybody can work in it. You can come from anywhere, start your company and begin work directly. It always has to depend on how much your company has done, to see how much it can do in the future. More than presentations, or the technical capabilities of the people who present them, financial statements are one of the most important things for companies. I have learned that we have to look at financial statements more and more [closely].
“We created our own subsidiaries because we didn’t want to be let down again and again by companies when they have problems. That’s why we’ve created subsidiaries who work in construction, only to support us,” Ameri says, providing an illustrative insight into his philosophy.
Having been the first employee, Ameri has seen his staff grow to more than 25,000 employees across the group over the last decade. Despite the huge number of people working under him, he insists that he views everyone in the company as part of one big family, with systems in place across the board to keep everyone on the right track.
“We created our own processes and procedures which keep everyone on track, on the right career path, in the right positions, with the right communication with the right parties. When I started this company, I began by choosing people who were going to be focal points, the cornerstones [of the company]. Thanks to God, I have chosen correctly, and I have been successful and lucky with a lot of them.
“I don’t just appreciate one, I appreciate the whole team. I always work with teams. Trojan, in general, is a big family. This is what I depend on – everybody cares for the other, regardless if it’s his or her job or not. I think that’s what has kept us strong.”
As part of the company’s culture, Ameri explains that there is an open-door policy in place throughout the organisation, with all employees free to share their ideas or communicate their problems to management, whether to him directly or to other senior figures. This approach also extends to how clients are treated, he says.
“I communicate with clients myself. Even if the clients are communicating with the managers, they can come to me as well. It’s open communication for everybody, with no problems. If you have an idea, put it forward. We have systems in place for suggestions, regardless if they are workers, helpers or even the GMs. It’s all going to be evaluated, looked at and responded to with open communication. This is what we do.”
As part of his efforts to foster a collaborative culture throughout the organisation, Ameri says he and his senior management are looking to implement systems that will allow them to evaluate operations and productivity through tangible measures and numbers.
“We put in place measurable KPIs for every position in this organisation, and the system shows us every month what the results are. Without technology, we wouldn’t have all the reports needed to evaluate people, to evaluate jobs and to do all the things that need to be done,” he explains, adding that there has been considerable investment into a wide range of technology, from robotics to software, new manufacturing materials and even new techniques and methodologies, with the emphasis on improving performance and efficiencies across the board.
In 2018, Ameri told Big Project ME that he was keen for Trojan to expand into new territories and sectors, having successfully established itself as a major player in the UAE construction market. Having mentioned that Saudi Arabia was a major market for the company, he now provides updates on progress in the Kingdom.
“We started in Saudi Arabia with one of our subsidiaries – Hi-Tech Concrete Products, which delivers complete precast solutions and projects. We have got a project already and work has started. Recently, one of our other subsidiaries – Reem Emirates Glass & Aluminium Factory – has got two projects in KSA as well. So I think that it’s time for Trojan to jump in. We are targeting that market in 2020.”
He adds that the company is keeping its eye open for other potential markets as well – such as Belarus, where Trojan Holding has registered and set up shop with the target of going fully operational by the end of this year, or early next year.
Even though he is keen to take Trojan Holding to a truly international level, Ameri asserts that the company will not be deviating from the values and principles that have served it so well over the last decade.
“I’ll tell you something. I believe that what works in the UAE can work anywhere, because it’s such an open market and we face a lot of challenges. A lot of countries haven’t reached that level of systematic process yet. We know how things can run, from an asystematic system to a systematic system.
“The second thing is that when we expand, we depend on two things – UAE investors are investing all over the world and we know them, having worked with them in the UAE. So we can go and support them, we have the chemistry between us, and we can go together and invest and work together. From that unit, we can then expand into that country.
“Or with a new country like Saudi Arabia, for example, we start by putting our subsidiaries first. If that is successful, then we can go in ourselves and start investing in there,” he explains, adding that this process ensures that the transparency and honesty that he so values continue to be maintained.
“I hope that one day people are going to say that this company has been built on a very strong base, with a really loyal team that has built up the company and represented the industry and the UAE all over the world, with the right image that everybody can see. I hope that we have built the right basis for this company to continue in the future, with the right values of transparency and fairness to everybody who works in this organisation and who work with it,” he concludes.