Emirates Motor Company: Pioneering Mercedes-Benz in the Middle East
Mr. Bilal AlRibi, General Manager, Emirates Motor Company Commercial Vehicles describes his company's journey so far and how EMC is successfully coping with the challenges thrown up by the pandemic.
Q: Would you please give us a short introduction to Emirates Motor Company (EMC)?
Emirates Motor Company is part of the Al Fahim Group which was founded by the visionary businessman Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, and is one of the main contributors to the UAE’s economic prosperity.
In 1962, before the country had proper infrastructure, including roads, buildings and electricity, a German delegation from Mercedes-Benz flew in to invest in the budding oil-rich emirate and open a distributorship for their luxury brand.
After a few years, a partnership between Al Fahim family and Mercedes-Benz commenced in 1967 with an order of four premium Mercedes-Benz vehicles, which paved the way for a new beginning.
Today, 58 years after becoming a partner of Daimler-Benz AG, EMC is the exclusive General Distributor for Mercedes-Benz Cars, Vans, Trucks and Buses for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, and is recognized as a flagship partner in the region having earned the title of General Distributor of the Year for Commercial Vehicles in 2018 and 2019.
EMC employs 174 staff in sales, customer service and spare parts for commercial vehicles in 6 different locations serving our customers 24/7 with our 18 dedicated workshop vehicles.
Q: In what ways has your business been impacted by COVID-19?
Similar to many other businesses, our business was also impacted by COVID-19 in the last few months in certain aspects, e.g. our workshops and sales outlets were operating on emergency mode temporarily and new safety measures had to be implemented in our customer reception areas.
As challenging as this difficult times are for all of us – over the past few weeks we have also seen how important our work is for the economy and society as a whole. The vans, trucks & buses of our customers were needed before the crisis to transport and to build.
And now, they are needed from delivering food and medicine, to transporting front line workers to their workplaces.
During the sanitization drive that was performed by the UAE authorities, several of our customer representing the municipality segment and waste management were tirelessly working on the initiative.
Q. What is your organization doing specifically to adapt to this new challenging norm for continuity of business? What safety measures were implemented at EMC to continue the business?
The highest priority for EMC has the customer satisfaction and keeping our customer vehicles on the road. Of course this was challenging during the first days of the pandemic and during the lockdown.
Luckily our business was seen as system-relevant and we were allowed to open our workshop and parts outlets quite soon again after the lockdown was implemented.
We for example implemented 36 support teams with dedicated staff working full time for frontline workers to ensure the vehicles are well maintained and the safety is ensured.
We offered specific trainings for our employees who are in direct customer contact guiding them how to approach direct customer contact. Of course we implemented distance measures at our customer touchpoints, from stickers on the floor, to hand sanitation machines to Plexiglas protection.
These precautionary measures will stay in place until further notice.
All our mobile workshops are equipped as well with sanitization equipment that is used on a regular basis by our trained staff when entering into customer yard and starting the repair and maintenance work on site.
Q: What are the major changes (internal & external) you foresee for the ‘new normal’ post COVID-19?
On one hand, new procedures and work instructions have been set in place within our dealerships and workshops to welcome customers and their vehicles, e.g. new sanitization concept and social distancing regulations in the reception areas were implemented. They will remain in place for the time being until further notice.
On the other hand, digitalization is key with remote learning and working, wherever possible. Our partners in the regional office, Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA in Dubai, offered remote learning courses our employees during the isolation period free of charge.
The use of online meetings and new media was essential in the first weeks of the pandemic. We see less inhibitions to these virtual solutions lately and we experienced great enthusiasm and openness from both internal and external parties when it comes to new innovative ways of collaboration. This is really a positive development from the past few weeks.
Q: In which ways will you adjust your business?
We believe that new ways of collaboration will become more present in our daily lives and the way we used to work in the past might have been disrupted, e.g. product presentation might be handled differently in the future.
We were used to product presentations during exhibitions and in personal introductions, the product presentations were partially done virtually and online instead. Our new website is a first step into this direction. From our perspective both ways will be part of the new normal.
However commercial vehicle business is people business and this will not change – so the personal relationship with our customers will remain the core of our purpose: ‘for all who keep the world moving’.
Q: Where do you see EMC and its business in 12 months’ time?
As transport plays an important role for a country’s economy, we believe that the transportation segment will continue to be a significant contributor to our economy’s recovery.
There might be a reprioritization of certain segments and projects, e.g. in specific construction projects. However, transportation for the essentials, nutrition and medication will remain essential for our communities and request for new transport challenges like for example the insurance of cold chain transportation.
Our priority is to focus on the customers and their needs, we will be there for our customers to provide the support needed to perform their duties.
Q. Is there anyone or any organizations you’d like to thank for their efforts during the pandemic?
I would like to thank all our staff for their perseverance and dedication during the last months. Without their continuous efforts, willingness to learn, change and reorganize our business it would not have been possible to get through these turbulent times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We see our business back on track, however we are not yet back to the normal level compared to the beginning of the year.