CEO Middle East talks to Eng. Ahmad Ghassan Al Khalid, Vice Chairman & CEO of ACICO Construction Co.
Please tell us when ACICO Cement was formed and about its main areas of business...
ACICO Industries Co. was listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) Boursa in 1997. Furthermore, one of its subsidiaries ACICO Construction Co. was established on August 2007 and it has contributed to the construction boom in Kuwait (through its cement division) through its support of governmental projects.
These projects were executed either with ACICO Construction’s contribution or through other pioneering construction companies locally and internationally. We also export to neighbouring countries and support private projects locally and globally.
We were and will always remain committed to providing construction solutions that meet all the needs of its business partners by offering different kinds of vital products. ACICO Cement includes the following sectors: Cement, Ready-mix Concrete, Precast Concrete and Interlock Pavements.
Due to our industrial success, ACICO started manufacturing cement as part of ACICO’s self-sufficiency policy. This value chain assures the timely supply of raw material for ACICO manufacturing operations and projects, which in turn decreases the risk factors associated with manufacturing.
ACICO Cement has contributed to a more secure and solid construction sector in Kuwait. The cement is used in the manufacturing of a variety of building material such as ready mix concrete, and interlock pavements, which are locally produced. It has become the trusted name for all kinds of construction works due to the product’s high quality and technical specifications.
Through our high-tech quality control laboratories, highly qualified technical engineers, technicians, and skilled labours, we are able to maintain and assure the quality of ACICO’s Cement. ACICO operates and manufactures in compliance with local and international standards. It’s is approved by Ministry of Public Works, Public Authority for Housing Welfare, Ministry of Defense and all major governmental bodies.
ACICO Cement is one of the pioneers in the field of construction material production in Kuwait. Its cement, ready-mix concrete and interlock pavement products are a major contributor in executing all different kinds of construction projects in many fields.
These include housing, hospitals and healthcare facilities, public works of all different kinds and scales, and projects in the oil sector. ACICO Cement cooperates with all the Kuwaiti construction field key players and contributors, including architects and craftsmen, locally and internationally. The annual capacity is approximately 2.2 million tons of various types of cement.
What are the key projects the company is working on now?
To fulfil the business need we are always working on enhancing both productivity and reliability. In order to keep the competitive advantage and provide the Kuwaiti market with uniform services and products that are aligned with the market demand.
We have many projects locally and internationally that we had to expand out cement plant to meet market demand. To do so, we created a new department, Project Development Department (PDD), to work in parallel with ACICO Operations. These two departments ensured internal cooperation and implementation but also made sure that every step of the development met local and regional regulations, market conditions and demand.
In spite of the best contingency plans prepared to address possible issues, the expansion was met with a few setbacks including climate, geography and regulatory related challenges. However, at the end of the day the project was successfully completed.
Do you plan to expand into other markets?
Over the years, ACICO Group has focused on the industrial sector, but subsequently shifted its focus to support its financial position and market share through investments in sectors such as construction, real estate, and hotels.
This was all done to benefit from market opportunities and diversity. In addition, this diversification helped to distribute the risks across the sectors while simultaneously supporting the company’s growth and revenue.
We are currently looking to expand in our current markets locally and internationally. The plans adopted by ACICO to expand in other markets is to capture new investment opportunities. This will be done after studying each opportunity, 360 degrees, and ensuring their investment feasibility. This will be a company-wide effort and this will have to translate into all other areas of the company, such as adapting our market strategy to carry out these potential investments efficiently and effectively.
What is the longer-term outlook for your industry?
We expect a better performance for the company in the coming period due to the government’s continued implementation of residential projects in Kuwait. We also expect the expansion of the company’s activities in the fields of cement, light bricks, and other industries. Also, after the company develops its assets and establishes a solid base of operational and human assets, it will enable ACICO to achieve sustainable returns.
ACICO aims to benefit from the opportunities, projects, and global events in the future such as Vision 2035 in Kuwait, which is the strategic plan for infrastructure, oil sector projects, and more. Locally, more projects are arising due to the country’s expansion across sectors including residential projects.
Globally, we are studying the different markets focusing various opportunities through our talented teams such as our Research & Development department.
What makes ACICO different from others in your sector?
As mentioned, our company is listed in the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE). Also, it is one of the largest manufacturers of Autoclaved Aerated Concrete in the Middle East and its products comply with the international ASTM standards and German DIN standards. Moreover, all of ACICO’s products of building materials such as Cement, and Readymix are approved by the Ministry of Public Works, Public Authority for Housing Welfare, Ministry of Defense and all major governmental bodies.
Our quick services, quality control and ability to cater to the market demand also add to our competitive advantage. For example, with regards to quality control, ACICO Cement factory supplies its products to ready-mix concrete companies, precast, and blocks companies in addition to other sale outlets in different areas in Kuwait where cement is demand either in bags or as bulk.
The final product is also inspected during the dispatch process by the means of random samples of the product before delivery to the customer.
To guarantee compliance to the Kuwaiti authorities’ quality standards and metrics, the products are tested quarterly by Ministry of Public Works (MPW) test lab. During this test, the product is certified as complying with the quality standards of the MPW.
ACICO Cement products are also subjected to being tested through other governmental certified labs such as the Kuwaiti Institute for Scientific Research and the Ministry of Defense (MOD) lab. These tests aim to certify the product competency and compliance to the project-based and authority-based standards.
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