Mohammad Musthafa, CEO, Safe Care, narrates how the company managed to rally forces and cater to the rise in demand for medical consumables during the pandemic while also keeping employee morale high during the critical months
When and why was Safe Care set up?
Safecare Medical Industries was established in the year 2016 in Kizad by the Bin Ali group to present a different dimension to the medical industry across the Middle East. We identified an opportunity to establish a dedicated medical consumable manufacturing facility in the UAE. Considering the havoc caused by Covid-19, I believe that a well-entrenched, mature, and homegrown medical consumable sector in the UAE reduces our reliance on other foreign countries for critical goods and durables. We are one of the first companies in the UAE to start manufacturing Covid masks, gowns and isolation gowns for hospitals in the country. With our partner company, which is one of the largest distributors of medical supplies, we are now having close to 300 different products in our portfolio including surgical gowns, surgical kits, surgical masks, Infection control products, single-use medical plastics and wound care consumables.
While the UAE has been airlifting most medical goods from across the world, by setting up Safe Care, we wanted to bring in more revenue for the UAE through export. Usually, the UAE exports basic plastic goods to other countries, who reprocess them into products, which the UAE then imports at a premium. Being one of the world’s leading plastic exporters, the UAE has the prospect to establish a robust plastic industry. Kizad being a port and conveniently located right in the middle of Abu Dhabi and Dubai was perfect for us to set up our facility.
Considering you are in the medical accessories manufacturing business and in keeping with the times, how important is hygiene in your overall production and manufacturing ethic?
Safe Care is an ISO certified and GMP-accredited facility with all products adhering to strict CE guidelines. Due to this, our manufacturing facility is spread over a total area of 1,500 square metres and takes places in an ISO 7, ISO 8 classified clean room environment, maintaining a low level of pollutants such as dust, airbone microbes, aerosol particles and chemical vapours. Safe Care also possesses a high-tech automated storage system, holding the unique accomplishment of having the one of the world’s finest automated storage systems, spread over 30,000 square feet and that ensures 100 per cent efficiency in storage without involving any manual intervention. All these factors ensure that Safe Care maintains best industry practices in keeping with Covid requirements even before the pandemic.
The pandemic has affected many industries and brands over the course of the year.
How did you manage to keep employee morale high during this critical phase?
Being part of an industry that supplied products to protect the public from Covid, the stratospheric rise in demand for our products kept our profit margins stable during these critical months. That said, we are also a company that relies on workers being present at our factory to monitor production and distribution of our products because of which we could only maintain social distancing and remote access for the mandatory period of time. However, I can assure you that there were no layoffs during this period and we were able to retain all our staff members, which means a lot to me because as the CEO of the company, I also got to observe the negative effects that Covid had on staff retention across peer firms within the industry as well as in other sectors. With more than 100 staff on our payrolls, I am also happy to reveal that there were no salary reductions during this critical juncture. Employee satisfaction ranks high for us at Safe Care and we have largely been able to convert our thoughts to action, with the result that employee morale has always been on an upward trajectory despite the tough times we faced as a team this year.
What’s in the offing for Safe Care at Kizad, what are your future plans in terms of expansion?
We have completed constructing our facility using up to 50 per cent of the area given to us at the Polymers Park at Kizad and expansion activity on the remaining land has begun. We plan to acquire more area in due course as we see a huge potential in the market for the medical consumables sector. Safe Care has also increased its global footprint in recent months, with access to markets across the UAE and the Middle East, Africa, India, and as far as Germany, the US and China. We also recently accomplished a couple of major successful distribution deals with firms in Lebanon and Ireland. These achievements are helping Safe Care present a strong front going intot he new year and we look forward to the new challenges that the industry and market forces could present in a post-Covid world.
I must also add that Safe Care received substantial and timely support and encouragement from the Abu Dhabi Government as well as management teams at Kizad for all the initiatives and also while the firm tackled the logistical and manufacturing challenges faced during the pandemic. It is support such as this that helps SMEs thrive and helps bolster the entrepreneurial quotient that the UAE is famed for.