What is the story behind AMI and its present success? How did you become a part of this story?
I come from a very strong business background where entrepreneurship lies in our hearts. AMI was founded on the same guiding factors that has inspired us all these years. It was conceived with a vision to be the center of progress and human ingenuity for the advancement of the society. More specifically, the idea was to create value for the UAE market. The UAE market is our home, our base that provides us with the necessary infrastructure for our innovative ideas. We are not only supporting our economy but also introducing newer standards and modern solutions through manufacturing “MADE IN UAE” products. Our success lies in the basic principle- to make the lives of people easier with our products including both consumers and employees. Our work ethic and quality has resulted in loyal customers both within UAE as well as across more than 32 countries where it has a dedicated brand loyalty. I co-found the firm in 2000 as a humble start up and saw it flourish to its present state. We have branched out in various segments and employ over 250 employees who create the magic that is “Dolphin”, our brand. We now operate in the Middle East, Africa, South and Far East Asia, Eastern Europe and Russia.
Tell us about the main line of business that AMI operates in?
Our two core lines of manufacturing business are automotive and construction where we have a wide array of product lines. In the automotive segment, we produce vehicle care and maintenance products. These include interior car care products, exterior cleaners and other products for vehicle maintenance. We also provide general purpose products, perfect for the DIY occasions for your car.
What are the most popular Dolphin car care products in the UAE market and overseas?
Every geographical region and its population defines a product’s utility and attractiveness. Hence, we see a high demand for AC Cleaners in the UAE and GCC region. The region sees its fair share of high temperatures and the AC unit in the car needs regular maintenance. To maintain its health and ensure performance, the Dolphin AC cleaner becomes every car owner’s ally.
What is the short-term and long-term outlook for vehicle maintenance products in the GCC market?
The region has a rough climate that can affect a car’s performance in the long run. In addition to this, the terrain also makes it difficult to have a healthy and long lifespan. Thus, the vehicle maintenance sector in the GCC market is a dynamic industry with a potential to grow. People are also leaning towards maintaining their present cars instead of investing in a new car. Hence, the former affects their choice in the long run to preserve the car’s function. The latter on the other hand is an attempt to maintain the car in the short run.
How has the recent implementation of VAT affected your segment? Has this had any impact on sales and availability of products for the end user?
The manufacturing process is one that is tricky by itself as it involves various facets. The addition of another dimension through VAT have an impact on the same. Despite some price changes that are inevitable due to VAT, we have tried to keep the burden of cost minimal while not compromising on our quality. Our business strategies and operations are deliberate in their attempt to manage expenses so that we can stay affordable. However, quality is a dimension we do not compromise on and have made sure our processes follow the set standards.
How does Dolphin differentiate its products from similar products in the market?
Dolphin is a brand that is truly “Made in UAE”, our products are manufactured in the UAE itself, thus setting us apart from other products. Moreover, we may be acting local but we think global as our products meet international quality standards. This combination gives us a unique standing in the market. In addition to this, I truly believe that ultimately the price value analysis of the customer decides a brand’s fate. The get and give components of any purchase have a lasting impact on the brand. In that respect, Dolphin is recognized as a brand with quality at an affordable price.
Who do you think are your main competitors in this industry and how do you ensure that you stay ahead of your competitors?
As the saying goes, true nobility lies in being superior to your previous self. When it comes to competition, we look inwards to better our processes than compete with other brands. We aim at responding well to the market with new and improved products while channeling high technology into utility. With a constant availability of high quality products and customer oriented services, we want to be a brand that is reliable. The credibility from our customers is the only thing we need to stay at the top of game.
Are the entry barriers high for your particular category of products.
As with any product that has a high manufacturing component, the entry barriers to an anew firm are high. Adherence to quality standards and consistent performance can be difficult to achieve when starting out. Since most of our products are also fairly technical in nature, the new entrant will also need to invest greatly in research and development. These are a continuous process and the firm has to be very careful about its entire value chain addition to develop and market a successful product.
Dolphin embodies the “Made in UAE” spirit. In what way has this helped you?
“Made in UAE” is not a promotion strategy and we are not looking at it from a strategic point of view either. Rather, we want people to know that the homegrown mark is a valuable entity in itself and holds as much importance as any international seal of quality. The spirit of being homegrown is central to our brand’s pride in producing quality products that contribute to our economy in more than one way.
How do you think the Expo 2020 will impact the economy in general and your industry in particular?
The Expo 2020 will be a mega event whose ripple effects will be felt even after it is over. The economy will definitely see a surge in activity as the world business community turns its eyes towards the Gulf region. It has already made a huge impact on the hospitality industries and effected employment favorably. Our industry in particular will see a greater influx of more modern technologies and production techniques. I also hope that that our products find a greater market audience in the global market.
The general trend globally is to switch to more environment friendly options. In what manner has Dolphin’s products confirmed to this trend?
As the world takes greater cognisance of the impending environmental concerns, there is a greater shift towards environmental friendly options. The automobile industry is also doing its bit to ensure that it is able to contribute to environment preservation. AMI has always been conscientious about employing the best practices and being aware of its responsibility towards the society. We create all our products to ensure that they conform to the “green” label.
Accident rates are quite high in the UAE. In such a scenario, how important is role of regular vehicle maintenance?
The current generation of automobile owners spend a large part of their time in the cars, on their way to and from somewhere. When the automobiles are functioning at such a high speed, maintenance assumes paramount importance in ensuring its durability. With long distances and high speeds, often faulty car parts can lead to accidents. Car care is not only about the cosmetic but boils down to the very function of the car. Maintenance increases a car’s durability as well as its ability to perform well on the road.
Do you think that the average motorist still does not give vehicle maintenance the importance it deserves? What can be done to ensure greater education?
I don’t think it is fair to say that they do not give it importance, rather the more pressing issue is their dependence on service centers and technicians. This is where education comes into play as it is a vital part of owning an automobile. As technology changes and more products enable a person to take care for their car, we are missing the key link- education. Being well informed may even allow the motorists to prevent harm. It is important to know more about the machine that has come to become a vital and irreplaceable part of our lives.
What can be done to further encourage the growth of home grown brands like Dolphin?
There is no dearth of talent or ideas in the current generation of entrepreneurs. All they need is guidance, encouragement and a platform to perform. We need to support them to create brands that are proudly made in UAE. The stalwarts of the industry could provide mentorship to young business minds looking to enter the market. The procedures and pitfalls of opening a business are often the most complicated step of setting up a firm. We could help them understand the same through outreach initiatives. This will not only boost our economy but also give it the sustainability in the long run.
When it comes to parts and maintenance, the quality of the parts is highly important. How do Dolphin’s products fare in quality tests?
Since the brand “Dolphin” was conceived, we have been stringent with our quality controls. Monitored under the highest standards in high technology laboratories at AMI, each product and its component undergoes rigorous testing. The certifications from UAE and International bodies are an impartial recognition of our efforts over the years. In fact, Dolphin products are recognized and trusted by many key companies in the market as a reliable partner.
How do you see the future of home grown brands amidst the stiff competition from global brands?
Everything what you do is going to be evaluated from someone, whether it is home grown brand or global brand. Only persistent and quality work will provide you future and enough time to see if you have, and who are actually your competitors. Dolphin Team believes in future and looking forward to compete on global level.
In the highly connected global economy of today, the distinction between homegrown and global brands is fast diminishing. As a brand, we are liable to face competition from brands irrespective of their origin. In such a scenario, the only factor that counts is the ability to deliver quality consistently and over a period of time. The quality position will catapult any brand to the top of the table and should be the aim of any brand. This holds especially true for homegrown brands as they look to compete on a global level. “Dolphin” Team believes in looking to the future and has a confident of its ability to compete on a global scale.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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