As part of ‘Saudisation’ a fresh batch of graduates were welcomed to the Byrne Equipment Rental Team earlier this year. Regional GM, Steve Caygill, explains to CMME why the plant and equipment specialist continues to localise its Saudi workforce
It is over 20 years since Byrne Equipment Rental first launched its KSA operations, and in that time, many things have changed; an increasing number of Saudis have been integrated into the workforce, while the Kingdom has opened up to foreign tourists, priming itself as a major international tourism and leisure destination in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
Parallel to this, Byrne has expanded its footprint to include offices and depots in Dammam, Riyadh, Turaif, Jeddah, Yanbu, and of course, it’s HQ in Jubail. For the rental company, in recognition of how the country has changed, a key pillar of their people strategy in the Kingdom, and perhaps the most important, is Saudisation. Today, Byrne is one of the largest single sources for plant and equipment rental in Saudi with an extensive rental fleet of over 5,000 units of equipment, and they have learnt first-hand the value of combining a highly competent multinational team supported, in no small part, by their local Saudi talent pool.
“We have taken a proactive approach to hiring and retaining local talent focusing on younger graduates who we can support further with their education and experience in the industry.” explained Steve Caygill, Byrne’s Regional General Manager UAE and Oman, at their in-person Product Open Day, held in Abu Dhabi recently.
“Saudi has historically been quite a complex market to operate in but many of the reasons for this have changed to encourage new business growth and development, both for existing businesses and those looking to establish there. Part of that comes with initiatives that are driving the Saudi nationalization scheme which we are fully committed to and support.”
As one of the largest equipment rental companies in the Kingdom, Byrne has been making tremendous strides in their efforts to localise their workforce, and earlier this year as part of program training, they recruited and welcomed 11 graduates to the Byrne Equipment Rental team in KSA; coming from Jubail Industrial College, Technical & Vocational Training Corporation, Royal Commission for Jubail & Yanbu, Petroleum & Natural Gas Institute of Technology and Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic, all educated in a variety of disciplines such as Engineering and Technology.
“The level of knowledge coming from university candidates at this moment in time is very strong and they’re very willing and keen to work in that segment. They are chiefly aligned to the O&G space. Obviously, wages are better aligned to that industry, but they are definitely sought after,” Caygill insists.
Right now, the “fast movers” in Byrne Rental’s vast portfolio of products can be found in their HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) division including split & package air conditioning units, chillers, air-handlers, cooling towers, dehumidifiers, heaters and ventilation equipment. Coupled with the development side of things in the O&G space, much of Byrne’s work continues to come through the human welfare side of things like temporary camps, accommodation and temporary offices.
“We employ a lot of manpower over there and just geographically from a fleet point of view the second largest amount of our fleet sits in Saudi, after the UAE. Beyond the O&G sector there is of course the well-known projects like NEOM and the Red Sea development, which will continue for several years. We’re at the very early stages of that and there is a lot of work being conducted.”
Similarly, Byrne expects to be a key player in the continued evolution of Saudi’s growing entertainment industry. Entertainment venues increased from 154 in 2017 to 277 in 2020, according to Vision 2030, as the country prepares to deal with a surge in high profile events over the decade. The industry in KSA is only getting bigger and better and popular events such as Riyadh season and the F1 have shown that the Kingdom is ready and more than capable to step it up a notch and host even bigger events on a global scale. Since the Vision was adopted, over 2,000 events have been hosted, with over 46mn visitors. On the local front, the government is aiming to increase household spending on entertainment and cultural activities from 2.6% to 6% by 2030, with the aim of becoming the top events destination in the region through local and international visitors.
All of this is good news for Byrne Equipment Rental who specialise in supplying events specific equipment including sanitation and catering facilities, temporary buildings, barrier and seating, and power generation. As Caygill points out: “One of the other things in line with 2030 is the branding of Saudi worldwide. They are doing so many events making this our largest event space now and for the next ten years.”
In the last three decades that Byrne have been in the Middle East, the Regional Manager says he has seen a “seismic change” in the rental industry in both construction and Oil & Gas.
“Before, these companies held a lot of equipment, owned a lot of assets and were pouring a lot of capital into those assets because there needed to be a lot of overheads to support that. But they’re really now starting to see the value of rental. It’s something that they are very comfortable with. Obviously if something breaks down or there is a problem, we carry that burden and responsibility so they definitely see the value in that now. It’s been a real change.”
Rental companies like Byrne find themselves in high demand as companies continue to look for cost-effective solutions following a pandemic where finance had to be severely curtailed. Such open days are all about “reconnecting” on the back of Covid says Caygill and allowing them to have facetime with customers, something quite difficult to do over the preceding 24 months.
“We want to bring new customers out here to see the wider spread while existing customers may not be fully aware of the new products we have on board over that period of time. It’s a great opportunity generally to catch up with clients on a day like this.”
For clients too, the conversation undoubtedly turns towards Saudi Arabia at some point where investment by the country’s leaders with Vision 2030, coupled with the global attraction that Saudi Arabia is generating, means that there will be ample growth opportunities for everyone over the next decade. Byrne, with a foot already firmly established inside the door, foresees the country fast becoming a hub for the Arab world and a global hub for travel and tourism, creating a strong need for support through services and equipment solutions.
To lead that drive Byrne has recently appointed James Dodgson as their new Regional General Manager covering Saudi Arabia. He’s tasked with ensuring that Byrne is geared up to support their growth in any way required including overseeing it’s continued investment and development alongside that of the Saudi economy, and ensuring their Saudisation strategy continues to move forward.
This interview originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Construction Machinery Middle East.