– Abdulrahman Ali Al-Abdulla, CEO – Qatar
Muntajat is a new company tasked with the responsibility of sales and marketing of many of Qatar’s downstream products to the world, from polymers to chemicals and fertilizers. The company’s CEO here discusses the need to create one face to market for Qatar’s downstream sector, and how his new company is already adding value to the sector.
Muntajat has been tasked with bringing together all of Qatar’s downstream sector. Why was the creation of a dedicated marketing, sales and distribution arm for Qatar’s chemical, polymer and fertilizer production a necessary step for the country?
The creation of Muntajat was mandated by decree law 11/ 2012 in line with Qatar National Vision 2030. Qatar started its chemical and petrochemical businesses 42 years ago. As part of the drive to move these activities to the next level, Muntajat was created to help Qatar develop its own internal capacities and resources, leverage and improve the country’s human capital and build a knowledge base within the country when it comes to sales, marketing and distribution of chemicals, polymers and fertilizers. This will be vital in the years ahead: Qatar will be ramping up its production from 10 million metric tons to around 23 million metric tons of products by 2020, following USD 25 billion in investment in the chemical and petrochemical sector as stated by His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry and Muntajat Chairman.
Why was the decision taken for one company to run the marketing and sales for the industry, rather than letting each producing entity run its own operations?
To have one face in the market means that whenever anyone thinks of chemicals, petrochemicals or fertilizers coming from Qatar, they think of Muntajat, the gateway to these products. By consolidating the marketing, sales and distribution divisions of each producing entity under one roof, we have build economies of scale, and can work to share and build knowledge, focus on catering to the requirements of our customers, provide better before- and after-sales service, and allow the producing entities to focus on their core business – growing production, improving quality, and furthering the capacity. As one entity, Muntajat can reduce costs, add value, and achieve better netback through building reliability and credibility.
What have been your main objectives since the company was started in 2013?
Our vision for Muntajat is to become one of the world leaders in marketing and sales of chemical and petrochemical products, not only in the State of Qatar but also worldwide.
To establish Muntajat, we studied the possibility and assessed the benefits of creating a single sales and marketing face for the sector; after checking that there were no legal red flags, and upon the decision that we would add value to the sector overall, we began the incorporation of the company. It was a challenge: we wanted to move fast and incorporate the business at the same time as we started to migrate activities across to the new entity. Bringing the expertise on board from the producing entities, as well as recruiting experienced personnel from abroad, really helped us to achieve this goal.
The first company to be successfully migrated was Qafac, and by the end of 2013, we had completed the transition of companies responsible for 90 percent of Qatar’s total chemical, polymer and fertilizer production. Muntajat entered the market with no disturbance, gained respect from Qatar’s producing entities, and managed to prove that we could add value to their activities in 2013, even though it was a shortened period. By the end of 2014 we will have completed 100 percent of the migration: according to our plan, the last company to be migrated is Q-Chem. This is planned for completion before end of 2014.
What strategy have you implemented to ensure that every producing entity receives its fair share of attention under the new Muntajat umbrella?
We divided Muntajat into three divisions: fertilizers, chemicals, and polymers, each one focused on marketing and sales for one segment only. We brought the legacy sales and marketing teams across directly from each producing entity and integrated them into this new structure. Our ambitions were to ensure that the customer never noticed the transition – this was a lot of work with 4,000 existing customers, but it worked, and paid off: to enter as a new player with products that have been sold in a certain way for 40 years is no mean feat.
In order to best serve our existing clients, and develop relationships with new ones, we have established 21 international offices over the past nine months. We work relentlessly to improve our quality of service through our operations teams, that examine the best ways to improve shipping, warehousing, logistics, and how to consolidate shipments together, and last year we achieved a lot of savings, but also improved lead times and efficiency in coordination with marketing and sales teams.
How much of a challenge has it been to build a Muntajat culture, when people have come from so many different places?
We have people from 33 different nationalities working for Muntajat today, comprising a team that has come together in a very short period of time. We have worked hard to build a company culture, through town halls, workshops, internal training, electronic training, gatherings, and other internal activities. We made the company vision and mission clear to everyone.
When it comes to the people that have come to Muntajat from Qatar’s producing entities, it is important for them to see that Muntajat adds value to their previous company’s activities. These employees are still marketing the same products that they used to. They have the technical skills, mixed with the passion, the network and the connections they have with customers. It is an excellent combination.
Combining the best of all worlds and elevating the corporate culture to a new dimension in an opportunity not to be missed.
Muntajat has built its initial international presence very quickly. How did you prioritize the global markets you have entered?
The chemical and petrochemical business is global; Muntajat wants to deliver Qatar products all over the world. Today, we sell our products in almost 120 countries. We have established 21 offices so far this year; our intention is to have up to 36 offices.
Because of Qatar’s geographical location, it makes sense to focus on Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Europe, but our products also reach North America, South America, Africa and Australia. Our objective is to achieve the highest netback possible in the market, and in time build loyalty and long relationships with our customers.
Reliability, credibility, and stability are very important for any business, not just one in the chemical and petrochemical segment. Political stability and a healthy economy are very important too. In chemicals and petrochemicals, Qatar has a well-established reputation; for example, Qafco –which is the largest single site facility in the world for the production of Urea- has been in the fertilizer business for the last 40 years, and currently supplies almost 12 percent of the fertilizer requirements for the US alone.
The new Muntajat brand helps further enhance the global position of ‘Made in Qatar’ chemicals and petrochemicals, as it provides one face to the world, and a larger basket of products combining the output of all Producing Entities in Qatar: today we sell over 10 million metric tons of products to the market, broken down into 15 different product types, but once the production goal of 23 million metric tons is reached, Muntajat will have over 30 different types of products to sell to the market. That makes a big difference.
What other trends will drive Muntajat’s development?
I believe that the key to success for Muntajat will be developing its before- and after-sales service. In order to thrive in global markets, you need to be considered a local player there, which means being close to the customer, and shortening lead times, which can turn you into added value assets. We need to dive deep into the market, and understand the needs of end users. We have already started building this.
We also capitalize on our foreign partners, who have been very supportive. We have seconded many people from their side, from Total to Shell, CPChem, Marubeni and Mitsui. If you want to have the best setup, you need to have the best knowledge and know how. So we capitalize on their expertise. We are an international company with international standards, governance and procedures.
What are Muntajat’s ambitions for future expansion?
Muntajat is not only engaged in marketing, sales and distribution but also with new projects that are being established both in Qatar and abroad. We are very engaged with QP, QPI, and QIA with regards to downstream ventures, building great relationships to support the future of Qatar. For any new chemical or petrochemical project to be a success, you need appropriate feedstock state-of-the-art manufacturing technology, marketing sales and distribution excellence, and financial backing. Marketing,sales and distribution is obviously where Muntajat will apply its expertise, and it is a crucial area: without the right marketing, finance will never be found. This means that we will be integrated in any new downstream projects originating from Qatar or Qatari companies.
In the coming five years, for the new products we are going to market, we have to start with pre-marketing: bring the knowledge, train people, and communicate with the customer. Sales do not start when you have the products – they start a long time before this. We are already starting this process for these new products. We will also work on the global infrastructure in order to achieve this.
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