Being ready to fail in order to reach the top
A real leader is someone who sees opportunities in difficulties, learns from mistakes, and uses their knowledge to nurture the next generation of leaders. It is the mantra that Adib Kouteili, co-founder and director of PEB Steel Buildings, has consistently used during his 25 years in the steel industry.
Adib Kouteili stepped foot in Vietnam two and a half decades ago fresh from his managerial position in Malaysia, which he described as a “comfortable country to live” for expatriates. Unlike Malaysia, Vietnam at the time was in its early development stage, and hardships were prevalent in the country. While many others scoffed at investing in Vietnam, Kouteili and his positive mindset saw an opportunity in the very new market.
However, the path to success in Vietnam was not easy, as it involved a lot of trial and error. Kouteili used this sense of tenacity to set up PEB Steel Buildings with his brother Sami Kteily, pioneering the concept of pre-engineered buildings (P.E.B.) in Vietnam. Today, one of PEB Steel Buildings’ most well-known innovations on the market is PEBFoamTM, which solves the problem of insulation products with fiberglass that can be harmful to workers’ health.
Other innovations also came after months or years of research, observing the market, listening to feedback, and overcoming failures. PEB Steel Buildings is also famous for using convection mechanisms to improve ridge vents, which is important for ventilation inside buildings. Another example is replacing painted sag arrestors that are prone to rust and take a long time to paint or dry. The company instead galvanises these arrestors, improving their durability and appearance.
At first, the ground-breaking technology failed because it was vastly different from the one-size-fits-all approach to steel products at the time. However, soon enough, buyers in Vietnam realised that P.E.B. was superior to ready-made steel because it is tailored to each construction project.
The company’s hard work and perseverance has paid off. From a factory with less than 100 workers, PEB Steel now runs six factories in the southern province of Vung Tau, one factory in Yangon in Myanmar, eight sales offices, and one headquarters in Vietnam, employing a total number of more than 1,000 people across various functions.
The company, under the leadership of both Kouteili and Kteily, has served 6,000 buildings in Vietnam and many more in far-flung markets. The company posted a historic revenue figure of more than $100 million in 2018, which represents a growth of 30 per cent on-year.
The most recent achievement for the company is the VinFast automobile factory in the northern port city of Haiphong, for which PEB Steel provided the structure. The company is the largest supplier of steel structures for the complex, and is also the sole foreign contractor to implement P.E.B. technology at the site.
Kouteili said with a smile that 85 per cent of constructors in the market now use P.E.B. – an incredible feat in just a quarter of a century. From just one small group in 1994, there are now at least 200 companies in the P.E.B. technology sector, providing jobs to 750,000 people across Vietnam.
|The Yangon factory in Myanmar was built with well-known innovations by PEB Steel|
The can-do mantra
When asked by VIR about his management style and the secret that drove PEB Steel Buildings towards success, Kouteili replied that he believes in involving staff members in the business, and giving them the right tools and the authority to do so.
For example, anyone who complains about procedures or products at PEB Steel Buildings will be given a chance to propose solutions. The employee will then be given time, money, and a team to test these solutions and if they make mistakes in the process, they can try again. Kouteili believed that this approach turns “complainers” into “doers”, and inspires them to be strong leaders in the future.
“You have to care about them and involve them directly in the process, because they’ll learn much better this way. We make people believe they can do it, and I am very proud to say that many managers at other steel companies in Vietnam used to be our trainees,” said Kouteili.
To do this, leaders also need to have strong emotional intelligence, because the ability allows them to ask for market feedback, listen to others and learn from failures. This is deeply ingrained in the corporate culture of PEB Steel Buildings.
Regarding the possibility of “leaking” trade secrets to outsiders in the coaching process at PEB Steel Buildings, the steel veteran said that this reality forces him and the company to constantly innovate and part ways with competitors. As soon as people know about their trade secret, PEB Steel will come up with new technologies and methods – and of course, fail and learn in the process.
Leaving a legacy behind
In response to VIR’s question about his legacy, Kouteili said he would want to be known as someone who constructs not just buildings – but the next generation of leaders.
According to Kouteili, this will make him happier than any business results, which explains why he has been a strong supporter of training programmes at PEB Steel Buildings and across various universities. Donations made by the company to universities in Vietnam have reached VND1.5 billion ($65,200) so far.
Kouteili said his favourite trainees are those who think beyond themselves and their personal achievements to provide solutions to the market. The biggest lesson that he shows trainees is that leaders must be willing to improve, truly care about people, and possess a strong sense of integrity. They should also be open to new ideas.
This is also the message that he taught his two children, who are now teenagers about to start university life. The steel veteran allowed his son and daughter to experience the world via exchange programmes, and seek solutions to any missteps they made in the process. This is how soon-to-be adults can thrive in the bigger world outside of their home, insisted Kouteili.
Thanks to his achievements in the steel industry, Kouteili was recently appointed as an honorary ambassador of Lebanon in Vietnam, as well as earning commendations from Canadian business groups. In June, the businessman also received a third-class labour medal from the Vietnamese government, granted to organisations and individuals that have made major contributions to the country.
“I’ll continue to nurture the next generations of leaders in Vietnam, and I believe that this is the most sustainable way to go for the future,” said Kouteili.
The Yangon factory in Myanmar was built with well-known innovations by PEB Steel: Using the revolutionary PEB HybridTM for rafters and mezzanine joists, new ventilation (R.V 5 meters) and insulation systems, and an eco-friendly painting line that guarantees that the building will achieve LEED certification.
PEB Steel’s Blood Donation Day: Through compassion comes love
PEB Steel’s Blood Donation Day, 31 May 2019 – When demand exceeds supply, the availability of sufficient blood is in an urgent need. Therefore, we encourage all of our PEB heroes to join in the meaningful Blood Donation Day to help save human lives. This is a precious gift for patients suffering from life-threatening conditions.
At PEB, we are trying to carry out many annual humanitarian activities in the hope that through such events we can spread love to the community.
PEB Steel Myanmar holds Grand Opening Celebration at Pullman Hotel
Yangon – PEB Steel Myanmar officially held the Grand Opening Ceremony for its first facility in Myanmar on March 29, 2019, at Pullman Hotel. The ceremony was held solemnly in the presence of representatives from local authorities, investors, constructors, consultants, and executive members of PEB Steel Myanmar.
Located in Thilawa Special Economic Zone (TSEZ), the 30,000-square-metre factory with a total investment of $25 million will feature the latest advanced technologies and designs to achieve a monthly capacity of 3,000MT for steel structures.
The factory will be put under the operation and management of an excellent team of engineers and supervisors, along with more than 335 skilled workers, to ensure the production of top-quality products, and contribute to construction quality in Myanmar.
PEB Steel Myanmar opened its first representative office in Yangon back in 1998. Over the course of 20 years, supplying products to more than 160 projects, PEB Steel Myanmar factory has been built to meet the rising demand for pre-engineered buildings (p.e.b.) in the country and overseas markets such as the Philippines, West Asia, and Africa, among others.
Board of Directors posted with delegates
Mr. Sami Kteily addressed an opening speech
The moment of Yangon factory was officially launched
Mr. Sami Kteily, executive chairman of PEB Steel Buildings spoke to TSEZ representative
Mr. Adib Kouteili, managing director of PEB Steel Buildings gave a name card to the guest
Mr. Nanda Kumar, general manager (operations) of PEB Steel Myanmar welcomed the guest
A traditional performance during the grand opening night
PEB Steel honored with our 6th Golden Dragon Award
Golden Dragon Awards 2018, 6 April 2019 – PEB Steel Buildings has recently been awarded the “Golden Dragon Awards 2018” by Vietnam Economic Times for “Best Steel Products”. The award is to recognise outstanding achievements in production and business and the significant contributions made to Vietnam’s economy. We are very honored being selected as a winner for 6th successive year.
This achievement recognises PEB Steel Buildings‘ efforts in innovation and developing the pre-engineered building industry over the past 25 years. We are thankful for our precious clients who choose and accompany with PEB Steel during the past time.
Truong Khoi Nguyen, General Manager of PEB Steel in Hanoi, received the award on behalf of the firm
Trophy of “Vietnam Strong Brand Awards 2018″
About the Golden Dragon Awards
The Golden Dragon Awards were first held in 2001 to recognize and encourage enterprises recording outstanding achievements in business. Awards are determined based on production and business activities, service provision, the application of technological solutions for environmental protection, full implementation of tax obligations, guaranteeing of employee rights, and actively participating in social activities.
With a theme, this year of “New Prestige, New Opportunity”, Vietnam Economic Times, the organizer of both awards, presented 60 FIEs with a Golden Dragon Award and 94 Vietnamese enterprises with a Vietnamese Excellent Brand Award.
PEB Steel awarded The Highest Quality Design & Steel Fabrication Company certificate in Indonesia
ELECTRICITY FORUM 2019 Conference & Exhibition Event with the theme “Electricity Technology & Energy Innovation for National Energy Independence”.
In the recent launch of the 35,000 MW electricity project by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Indonesia government through PT. PLN (Persero) to accelerating the nationwide electricity programme, many activities which include Conference, Exhibition, Job Fair, and Awarding The Best Research Supporting Company has been carried out to promote the accomplishment.
PEB Steel is trusted as a designer, fabricator and supplier of steel structure in Indonesia with the best quality steel product. The customers are very satisfied with our service and products. In addition, we are excellent in providing after sales service. Therefore, 27th March 2019, we were award “The Highest Quality Design & Steel Fabrication Company” certification as ticking out several complex requirements and criteria including technical qualifications, competency, progress, and quality.
PEB Steel is honored to receive this award, so we are anticipating new opportunities of contributing in building great Indonesia.
Conference & Exhibition Event with the theme “Electricity
Technology & Energy Innovation for National Energy Independence”, 27th March 2019
PEB Steel was award “The Highest Quality Design & Steel Fabrication Company” certification
PEB Steel glides over global challenge
Despite widespread assumptions, the US-China trade war is unlikely to affect Vietnam’s steel businesses in the downstream segment.
Throughout 2018, trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have reverberated across the world. Among the top products that fall victim to this trade war is steel, starting with Chinese steel imports to the US being taxed by 25 percent in March 2018. The issue is getting complicated as the US has accused Chinese steel manufacturers of shifting products to nearby countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia, to avoid import duties to the US.
For the past year, these anti-dumping accusations had a negative effect on Vietnam’s upstream steel producers. Steel mills in Vietnam are suspected of importing Chinese products, adding some minor finishing touches before exporting them to the US as “Made in Vietnam” steel. The 250 percent tax on Vietnamese steel, imposed by the US’s Department of Commerce last year, was a bitter pill to swallow for local steel exporters.
The US-China trade war did not only hit downstream steel players, but it provided them a chance to fill in Chinese producer’s boots
As a result, the entire steel industry was taken by doom and gloom, accompanied by news of excess capacity and strict export requirements. However, industry experts are now trying to clarify that the trade war and its related tariffs only affect upstream companies. These are the ones at the very start of the production process, who are responsible for collecting raw materials, such as iron ore or coal, before mixing them and creating steel billets for mid-stream businesses.
According to industry experts, the effect is more muted for mid-stream companies, who are tasked with thinning the steel billets. Going further to downstream counterparts, who use the finished steel to build houses and factories, no significant impact of the trade war can be found. This is mainly because downstream businesses in Vietnam respond first and foremost to the domestic construction demand, which is still robust thanks to Vietnam’s rising status as a regional manufacturing hub.
“A lot of people are concerned about our profitability in 2018 due to the trade war. However, it is actually the opposite. Our profits are excellent, and we are proud of the projects we delivered in the past year,” said Sami Nour Kteily, executive chairman of PEB Steel Buildings.
The downstream company posted a historic revenue figure of more than $100 million in 2018, which represents a growth of 30 percent year-on-year.
New opportunities for big players
Most experts agree that the Vietnamese steel industry still has ample room for growth despite the risks of lower exports and the trade war. However, growth opportunities are not the same for everyone. For example, in the downstream segment, pre-engineered buildings (P.E.B.) are expected to flourish, while small stores selling ready-made steel will be phased out.
In many ways, P.E.B. technology is superior to ready-made steel because it is tailored to each construction project. Similar to a tailor, P.E.B. engineers will take into account the requirements of individual customers before designing suitable steel products for specific projects. All of the primary framing members, and secondary structural tools, are treated in the factory before being shipped to the job site for setting up the building.
On the contrary, ready-made steel producers – similar to fast-fashion manufacturers – have a one-size-fits-all approach to construction. Customers have to choose from the existing range of materials, which may not match their own unique needs.
The change towards P.E.B. technology in Vietnam is already happening, with 80 percent of domestic factories now built with P.E.B. technology instead of ready-made materials. This trend is similar to nearby markets such as Myanmar, Cambodia or Laos, where steel mills cannot meet the rising demand for tailored buildings. The P.E.B. market in Vietnam, specifically, is expected to grow by 15 percent in the near future, as manufacturers flock to the country thanks to Vietnam’s increasing openness to global markets.
P.E.B. technology is flourishing in Vietnam, as 80 percent of factories chose it over ready-built materials
PEB Steel Buildings’ Kteily said that even within the P.E.B. industry, there is a divide between major businesses and smaller competitors. Bigger players have three distinct advantages: an experienced in-house team of engineers, the latest software of certified standards, and a huge inventory of at least three months’ worth of sales. At PEB Steel Buildings, this amounts to $15 million of inventory.
“We want to build efficient, effective and economical buildings. We should take particular care not to repeat the mistakes of the ready-made system. Our products must be of certifiable origin and our in-house engineers need to always make sure that we can provide tailored solutions to each customer,” said Kteily.
At factories, major businesses can afford to have the most experienced welders, together with good materials and a strong team of controllers, who keep tabs on product quality. Added advantages include high-quality accessories and a no-waste system that minimizes environmental effects.
Buoyed by good prospects and a healthy distance from the US-China trade war, most downstream steel businesses in Vietnam are upbeat about the future ahead. PEB Steel Buildings is among the biggest optimists – the company finished 2018 with a bang and is now eager to see what the future has to offer. Just a few months ago, the company finished the steel structure for the first stage of VinFast’s automobile factory, located in the northern port city of Haiphong.
“This is our proudest achievement in 2018, as we delivered the project in record time and recorded no casualties or penalties,” said Kteily.
The company is the largest supplier of steel structures for the complex and is also the sole foreign contractor to implement P.E.B. technology at the site. The company is “incredibly happy” to take part in a landmark project for Vietnam’s nascent automobile industry.
Looking forward, PEB Steel Buildings said that it is planning to export Made-in-Vietnam steel to different markets around the world, as far as El Salvador in the Caribbean. Bound by its commitment to Vietnam’s sustainability goals, the 25-year-old company is also striving to train Vietnam’s next generation of high-quality engineers and to promote green construction in the country.
2018 PEB Steel's Overview! Success comes from great efforts!
Another successful year 2018 has come to PEB Steel Buildings. Every success has the story to tell, let’s see how PEB Steel did it, and we are believed that our story will inspire you to be succeeded like us for the Golden Pig Year 2019 coming!
Happy New Year 2019 to all!
PEB Steel Buildings.