Face to face: Robert G Hogan, Readymix Abu Dhabi

“Readymix Abu Dhabi was one of the first – if not the first – to offer commercially produced concrete to the UAE market,” he tells Construction Week. “At that time, it was common for local contractors to make their own concrete, but as you can imagine, there was little in the way of quality control.
“We were pioneers in this region,” Hogan continues. “Readymix concrete had been around for many years in Europe and North America, but it simply wasn’t available in the Middle East. Our company’s founders wanted to spearhead advancement within the field, and capitalise on opportunities in what was, and still is, a growing nation. This proved to be a wise move; just look how the UAE has developed since.”
Indeed, Readymix Abu Dhabi’s regional activities have matured in tandem with the Emirates. Four decades on from its establishment, the company boasts a 350-strong workforce, a multimillion-dollar fleet of concrete batching and placement equipment, and a portfolio of high-profile projects across the UAE and the wider Middle East.
Although Hogan is not old enough to remember the earliest days of Readymix Abu Dhabi first hand, he is certainly no newcomer to the company. Since relocating to the UAE in 2001, he fulfilled the roles of sales manager and operations manager, prior to his current position as GM.
As Hogan points out, the length of his tenure has been sufficient to witness significant change in the market. “The main thing I’ve noticed during my time here is an increase in competition,” he notes. “When I came to the UAE just 15 years ago, there were around 10 serious competitors that could support large-scale projects. Today, there are probably 25. This isn’t the case in many other parts of the world; typically, you’d expect to find three to four major readymix outfits in a given territory. The UAE is an extremely tough market.”
So how has Readymix Abu Dhabi managed to thrive in such a competitive environment? Hogan splits his answer into two parts: equipment and employees. “First of all, we use top-quality batching plants and equipment,” he explains. “The main thing when it comes to quality control is the operating system (OS). We use computerised self loading batching plant, and our OS is the best that money can buy.
“In this game, it’s all about consistency. Readymix Abu Dhabi produces huge volumes of concrete, so we cannot afford to make mistakes. If we produce a batch for a large-scale building and that batch fails, everything else around it fails. For this reason, we have invested heavily in quality-control systems.”
But, as Hogan warns, the best ready mix concrete plants equipment and processes are all but useless without the right personnel. He elaborates: “In order to succeed as a concrete supplier in the Middle East, you need to live your job. We have a number of key people who can cover multiple functions. I think the days of senior employees who only perform one role are gone. It’s vital to have a multi-skilled workforce. It’s also important to retain that workforce.”
He adds: “I’m very lucky in that most of our senior management team – particularly on the technical side – have been with the company for more than 10 years. Readymix Abu Dhabi invests heavily in its people. We look after our employees, and I think the fact they stay around for so long proves we’re doing something right.”
Unsurprisingly, Readymix Abu Dhabi’s unwillingness to compromise when it comes to quality means the firm is positioned firmly within the premium segment of the market. “Everything we sell could be bought at a cheaper price somewhere else,” Hogan admits. “With this in mind, we have to deliver the best. Our clients are willing to pay that little bit extra for our quality and expertise.