More than 200 delegates from the region and around the world have reconvened at the Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City hotel complex in Dubai (UAE) for Day Two of gasworld’s flagship MENA Industrial Gases Conference 2019.

Held to tackle the Business Models Fit for Purpose in the Middle East and North Africa, the 2.5 day conference is exploring the challenges and opportunities facing the region as it moves forward into the next decade.

SOL Group’s Renato Imeri provided the opening keynote for the day and described the Success Factors for a Tier 2 Gas Company.

Over the past two decades, Renato Imeri has worked in sales, marketing and business development at SOL group. After joining as glass application engineer Imeri became glass and metals marketing manager and through his research and consulting at SOL group, contributed to implement technical gas application and technologies, like oxygen advanced combustion, both in glass and metal industry, and to develop SOL group presence all over Europe.

Since 2010 he has been heading SOL group activities of the Industrial Gas Division outside of Europe and particularly in India, where SOL Group established a 50/50 joint venture with Sicgil ltd., the leading Indian carbon dioxide manufacturer, that is actually a leading player in the south of India thanks to a combination internal and external growth.

Bringing all of this knowledge and experience to his keynote, Imeri opened, “I have been working at SOL since the very beginning of my career, so the only way I can explain this topic is to give you some insight into how we have grown.”

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Imeri described the SOL Group’s roots in Italy and how, through the decades, the company expanded beyond Italy and into wider Europe. He also explained how the company diversified into the medical and homecare business; the company serves 400,000 patients today and the homecare business has become so significant to the SOL Group, that Imeri described that diversification all those years ago as ‘a necessity’.

SOL Group is active in 29 countries, across four continents, and boasting 4,000 employees today, Imeri explained, noting that there have been several elements of strategic diversification along the way – and not just in applications served.

‘You have to be brave’

Imeri cited the importance of long-lasting partnerships with local players and partners, while also alluding to the 2008/9 global recession and the impact this had on Europe as a catalyst for the company to re-evaluate its position again and branch out beyond Europe, starting with investment in the emerging Indian market.

With such a geographic spread in 2019, over 50% of SOL Group’s revenues are derived from international business activities (beyond Italy/Europe), he explained.

“You have to be brave and do the best in taking opportunities to secure the best future for your company,” he opined.

Another example of SOL Group’s agility in ‘protecting itself’ was the company’s recognition that the gases industry is still so power/energy intensive; the company promptly decided to diversify its options here too, with the investment in a hydro-electric power plant. Further still, in doing so, SOL felt it was also putting its expertise in energy to good use.

So, Imeri pondered, what can we learn from these 30 years of history? He cited the following five success factors for a smaller enterprise in the industry:

  • Have a strong company culture and values
  • Anticipate environment change and decide where to go, step-by-step
  • Be an innovator and no a follower
  • Respect your partners to grow together
  • Hire the right talent

“And we have to dream,” he concluded. “For a Tier 2 company it is always important to have a vision for the future.”

Follow the conference online

Our coverage of the conference continues online again throughout the day. Stay up-to-date with all the latest news, views and developments at the event, as well catching up on yesterday’s developments, via the gasworld website.

For more ways to keep on top of developments from the event as they happen, follow and interact with gasworld on Twitter using the hashtag #GWMENA19.