Our Roving Reporter Tom Carlton has come across an interesting organization in the UAE, that manufactures a World Renowned Range of boats, providing craft for multi market users such as Recreational Boats for private and commercial uses, a range specifically for the military and a range to meet the needs of commercial operators from oil rigs to pleasure cruise liners.
To get an insiders insight into this company we arranged to find out more by interviewing the Founder & Co-CEO of ASIS Boats, Roy R. Nouhra.
Q: So, how did you get into boat building?
R: My background is that of an Engineer, I was managing the contracting part of the group for ten years and then decided that our group Solico who has Industrial, Contracting and Trading activities in the UAE since 1966 needed some cooler activities.
Boating and water skiing, being our shared passion and to spice up our range with products that could be use for leisure and recreational activities ,we (my brother Rainier & I) decided to add them to our group and started by building boats and manufacturing wake boards and other friction sports board products. This is how we included the elements of “Fun” and “Passion” into the Industrial part of our group which was already a leading supplier of various fiberglass products to the oil & gas and construction industry.
Q: When did you sell your First RIB?
R: August 2005 saw our first sale, even though we started ten months earlier. Being an engineer, design was important so R & D was a priority. We had to be sure that our product would excel in both safety and performance.
Q: And how many boats have you sold since inception?
R: In the last six years we have put more than 400 boats above 6m in length on water.
Q: How long does it now take to get from Design to being on the water?
R: Since we are vertically integrated and do everything in house we can now have a boat designed, manufactured and water tested ready for delivery within 8 weeks. Our 5 axis CNC machine is capable of doing the master in two weeks with a further six weeks for mold making and boat building. We are constantly designing new boats and accessories.
Q: What are you most proud of?
R: We are the first and only company in the world that can custom design and build a boat to our particular customer to meet all his needs in-house from Design, CNC plug making, mold making, Fiberglass, tubes, Stainless Steel works, Upholstery, Engine Rigging and Water testing.The vertical integration at ASIS Boats is impressive and due to the fact that we are a Multi Operational Industrial group with activities that complement our needs in boat building, enabling us to achieve excellence in different trades involved.
Q: Where do you see your company in five years time?
R: Good question. We are designers and innovators to the core and are continuously looking for materials, processes and equipment that will allow us to deliver world class products, leading the market and not following trends. Looking at the way the Brand is going with increasing market recognition and acceptance and as leaders of the Boating Market in the Middle East I can see ASIS Boats becoming the market leader International Markets through countries that we are currently targeting.
Q: Do you see more competitors springing up?
R: The level of investment needed to get to the level of ASIS Boats as it is now would be prohibitive for most businesses. Many established companies have tried to establish sales offices in the Middle East but they have all failed due to the fact that their boats couldn’t cope with the harsh environment that we have. High heat, humidity and salt content in the water made their boats melt under the conditions.
Q: In terms of Quality, who do you see as your main competitors?
R: In the Middle East no one.
Q: And moving wider?
R: In production terms, we don’t have any.
Q: So you consider yourself the best?
R: In production terms, yes. We are vertically integrated and therefore can control all elements of the boat as well as all manufacturing processes, very closely.
Q: How does ASIS feature in world design?
R: In the design world there are companies that are specialized and do nothing else, so of course you have some good designers in Italy, Holland and New Zealand. But they do production Boats only not “one-offs”. At ASIS, we can do standard series Production boats as well as customized one offs.
Q: What values are you working to?
R: Very simple, I tell all my people to imagine they will buy the boat with their own dollars, is this what you would approve and pay for. The spirit and ethos of our boat builders is such that they do it right from the beginning, paying attention to every detail because they know that the smallest detail positively and negatively affects the buying decision of a customer.
Q: What about branding?
R: We have more than one target market but only one brand. With the name ASIS on a boat it has to be, absolutely the best. I personally, Inspect & Sign the final inspection check list for every single boat, before it leaves the factory. This is done even though the entire QC teams, who are certified in accordance with ISO 9001:2008, undertake quality checks along the production line and at different stations right to the final product have also checked, signed and verified the quality.
Q: Being in the Middle East among the biggest concentration of the world Billionaires, you must have some fairly “Big” customers, for Designing tenders for super yachts.
Q: Are you willing to name any?
R: Yes, we’ve put them on the Biggest Yachts in the world.
Q: I mean the owners themselves
R: Err: no I can’t, Owners wouldn’t appreciate that but let me say that these owners have a term to describe them in the Middle East VVIP.
Q: Would you say ASIS Boats products suit a certain lifestyle?
R: It’s certainly for those who enjoy the finer things in life. Again, what we’re trying to do is aspirational. We’ve profiled our clients who buy our boats; you can almost say you know what cars they are going to drive. Most of our leisure customers are VVIP as we call them here.
Q: The kind of guys who really know their Stuff then?
R: Yes, it’s great. It’s interesting, the people that buy, tend to be those who are more discerning and I mean that in the positive way they’ve done their research.
Q: Are you getting repeat customers?
R: Great question, research shows that the main challenge in high-end product such as ours is customer retention. We do our best to retain our existing customers and so far we have succeeded. So yes a lot are repeat customers and even better, they refer customers to us.
Q: What is your favorite boat from your range?
R: I love all of them, but my personal favorite would be the STL 8.0 a limited edition Rib that is simply amazing. I have #1 of 25 and have been offered four times its price and did not sell it. I think this boat is a marvel for it’s time and a collector’s piece.
Q: I would love to try her.
R: Anytime, but I have to warn you that once you try her you will be hooked for good and let me say again, it is not for sale.
Q: Any new boat to be added to your range soon.
R: The next addition to the ASIS Family will be the 12 Meter Open Rib. This will be our biggest to date.
Q: I see that you are aware and knowledgeable to the smallest details in the boat build in Industry.
R: I love it, what can I say. I have often been compared to Howard Hughes in the Aviator scene when he (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) demonstrated to Juan Trippe, CEO and Founder of Pan American Airline (played by Alec Baldwin) that he knows even where the clips of the curtain are made while the other corporate guy knew nothing about any of his planes. I laughed when I heard that, but it’s kind of true for me.
Q: How do you find time to run the boat business with all the other business you have.
R: You always make time for the things you love, and boat building is a passion of mine.