Dubai: Three generations help run the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, a conglomerate with joint ventures and interests in almost every industry covering tyres, electrical items, personal care products, beverages, stationery, chemicals, furniture, building materials and steel.
Muna Al Gurg, director of retail and daughter of its founder Easa Saleh Al Gurg, attributes the company's growth to its structure as a family business.
"My father is still very much involved. We take my father's experience, advice and wisdom," she said. "We listen to him and the good thing is he listens to us.
"If my nephew comes up with new ideas even if my father doesn't understand, he will always listen. In a family business, there are always ideas that are discussed and it doesn't stop after the meeting. You can be at home talking over breakfast, lunch or dinner."
Her eldest sister Raja Al Gurg is the managing director of the group while her nephew, Abdullah Al Gurg, recently became group general manager.
The company's first move was its partnership with the British American Tobacco Company as its sole distributor in the UAE. They distribute brands such as Benson & Hedges, Rothmans, Dunhill, Cartier, State Express 555, Kent, Silk Cut, Vogue and Lucky Strike to almost 10,400 outlets across the UAE.
The company grew to include manufacturing, real estate and retail outlets totalling 23 companies, more than 400 agency partnerships and 4,000 employees. According to Al Gurg, the manufacturing arm is seeing the highest growth.
"Last year the major growth area was in manufacturing; as a group, we saw an increase of 12 per cent," she said. "The market then stabilised and for 2011 we're looking at growing organically at 7 per cent."
Through their tech division, Scientechnic, the company's reach is evident across the UAE. Scientechnic supplies all the traffic lights in Dubai and Sharjah along with certain areas on Yas Island.
"Scientechnic is one of the largest companies in the group and has been representing Siemens in this market for many years," said Al Gurg. "There has been a lot of growth in this industry."
A recent project is the ‘Strategic Grain Reserve' in Fujairah which is funded by the Abu Dhabi Government. Scientechnic is powering the giant grain silos that are being built for strategic storage of rice and wheat to ensure uninterrupted food supplies in the UAE. The project is scheduled to be completed by December.
According to Al Gurg, the company sees a lot of growth in certain technologies. "For the long term growth we're looking at renewable solar energy and water producing technologies," she said.
"We're doing a lot of research. There are a number of countries that have developed very good technology. We want to bring those here." There is also lot of potential in the health care industry. "Health care is something businesses can capitalise on and there can be also of improvement in the private health care sector," said Al Gurg.
In the short term, the company is looking to expand into Qatar. By the end of the year they are looking to establish their second international office there.
"We see it as an area of growth for us in the region — we cannot not be in Qatar. We are now working on our office and from there we are looking into which units we'd like to set up."
1960 Easa Saleh Al Gurg establishes the Easa Saleh al Gurg Group in Dubai and the firm establishes a partnership with the British American Tobacco Company.
1965 The firm establishes a partnership with Unilever.
1968 The interiors division is established and the group acquires brands such as ID Design and Better Life. It also adds United Colors of Benetton to its portfolio.
1974 Mac Al Gurg is set up to develop products aimed at the building sector.
1976 Al Gurg Building Service is established to focus on the steel sector.
1978 Easa Saleh Al Gurg Battery and Tyres division is formed in partnership with Dunlop Tyres.
1978 Arabian explosives is set up as a joint venture with a leading French supplier. The company later adds auto services and an engineering division to its list of sectors.
1980 OFIS is added to the company's office furniture division.
1982 Al Gurg Stationary is set up to provide luxury stationary from suppliers in Europe and Japan.
1995 The Al Semsal Building Material division is set up to serve the growing construction boom in the UAE. The company later establishes its property arm.