We are seeing a are seeing a squeeze on finance, and many general contractors and MEP contractors say they are seeking favourable terms and conditions from suppliers. What are you doing to support them and enable them to sustain their business? How is Johnson Controls helping?
Ahmed Al Neama: While Johnson Controls is offering us a lot of support, however, Iraq is currently undergoing a lot of political transitions, and we are faced with a paradox of challenges. For instance, before financing of jobs, we have to be assured of funding for the project before it is commissioned. And the key decision-maker here is the government, which decides the budget. In the private sector, although there is cash- flow, yet the banking system is a challenge, because of the situation in the country.
Abid Vazir: The relationship we share with Johnson Controls is beyond a distributor and manufacturer relationship. We have fostered a healthy partnership with Johnson Controls, and work together as a team, where we profile and exchange customer information, review and decide what would be the best possible solution or product for the customer.
Johnson Controls is noted for being partner- and customer-centric, because they do not just impose solutions or offer just any product off the shelf; rather, they do analyse and understand the requirements of the customer and, then, offer the best efficient and cost-effective solution and products with long-term sustainability.
Although the Iraqi market is still growing, there is tremendous demand for a lot of products and solutions
In view of the mergers of Johnson Controls with major brands like Hitachi and Tyco, how do you view this as a growth opportunity?
Al Neama: These new mergers have definitely boosted our market presence. The complexities of dealing with different companies has now reduced to dealing with just one company, which offers everything in-house, thus facilitating hassle-free operations, allowing us to focus more on accelerating our market growth.
Vazir: The mergers are very beneficial for our business, because this gives us an opportunity to introduce new products in Pakistan, thus enhancing our sales graph.
Pakistan is an emerging market with many untapped demands opening up. Hence, when Johnson Controls brings in brands like Hitachi and Tyco, it gives us an opportunity to increase our customer and product portfolio. These mergers also augment JCI’s and our presence in the local market.
The complexities of dealing with different companies has now reduced to dealing with just one company
So how do you view Johnson Controls as a global technology player? What is your view on that prospect?
Al Neama: Johnson Controls will grow well in the GCC region, and though the Iraqi market is in its infancy stages, yet I believe that Johnson Controls will become a key player in Iraq, owing to the local ground support, as well as from Dubai and the United States. Johnson Controls also offers us with the necessary support we need. Their research team is always ahead of the market, which is very beneficial for our business. The partnership we share with Johnson Controls scales up our own business in the GCC region and Iraq.
Vazir: Since the Pakistani market is now opening up, the economy is growing at a steady pace. But there is a need for energy-efficient product solutions, owing to the prevailing energy crisis in our country. Hence, when Johnson Controls introduces new products packed with energy efficiency, we get an opportunity to launch that product line in Pakistan, and meet the demands of the market and respond positively to the energy crisis.
What are the specific challenges confronting you in view of the oil prices and uncertain market scenario? How are you responding to them?
Al Neama: Since most of our projects are in the private sector, we are not directly affected by the oil prices. As a matter of fact, I have been witnessing exponential growth in the private sector. Although the Iraqi market is still growing, there is tremendous demand for a lot of products and solutions, and many international companies are studying the feasibility of expanding operations to Iraq. The government has to commit themselves to ensure political security and stability, in order to witness positive long-term results.