Kuwait Resources House: A Leading Provider of HR Solutions and Integrated Logistics Services

Mohammad E. Al-Muaili gives an overview of KRH (Kuwait Resources House). Before being a globally built company serving the CENTCOM region, KRH started its journey in providing logistics services to the defense industry in 1991. Today KRH is a turnkey solutions provider delivering on its core business pillars: HR solutions, integrated logistics services and its very own KRH Academy.

Interview with Mohammad E. Al-Muaili, CEO of KRH (Kuwait Resources House)

Mohammad E. Al-Muaili, CEO of KRH (Kuwait Resources House)

What is the major challenge to boosting your business?

Our main challenges are technological. In order to expand and have a good growth you need time and support and the correct and adaptable technology that will help you to expand while you do not jeopardize the quality that you want. It is easy to have the growth, but it is very difficult to sustain the quality in different regions and different countries. Today, we all are aware that technology is the key that will take you from point A to B. We see in our line of business and in the sector that what will differentiate us from other competitors is that we are considered technologically better by using our own system. But still, we are in a time where we need to improve that in order to go ahead and support this so that we have the right expansion. Of course, after that, you have to have your employees be trained well in order to be users for this.

You define yourself as a logistics support services company. Can you explain more?

We are a one stop shop. We tell the clients to focus on their core business and let us handle the rest. There are a lot of things in the side businesses that these companies should not be worried about and we can handle that for them. Being in the service industry, you just need to be agile and you just need to adapt and have a tailored solution wherever the customers need it. We are proud that our team can sense what the customer requires and we adapt ourselves to them.

Where are you pushing to improve your technology specifically?

One of the things that helped us to become more of a resilient organization during COVID was having the right technology in order to communicate with all the units. But on the other side, there is going to be required more of the data analysis. It is more important for us to expect what the customer will require so that we do not need to go and ask what the customer wants; rather, what we want to do is to figure out what the customer needs first. In the next three years, the challenge is that we need to upgrade ourselves and develop ourselves in order to meet the clients’ requirements.

What is your scope of business and your competitive advantage? How do you distinguish yourself from the others?

First of all, we are in the service industry, but with the evolution of the company throughout the years, we have increased more of our services and developed and evolved to the level we are at today. We are in HR solutions and the life support business. On the HR side, what we usually provide is the recruitment services, legalization, the payroll, we handle the traveling, we handle the whole nine yards when it comes to the HR solution to any company. We are your HR department. On the other hand is the life support which is the complement product of the HR. For your employees, we would handle their accommodation, the transportation, the catering, the laundry, if there is a requirement for project management or a need even for heavy equipment. We were proud to announce in 2019 the establishment of KRH Academy which is more centered on training the blue collars and having them be certified to the needs of the clients themselves.

How is this appealing for companies to delegate this aspect to a service company? Is it a very competitive environment? Are there a lot of companies like yours that propose similar services?

Before being a globally built company serving the CENTCOM region, KRH started its journey in providing logistics services to the defense industry in 1991. Today KRH is a turnkey solutions provider delivering on its core business pillars: HR solutions, integrated logistics services and its very own KRH Academy.

When we started in 1991, the business itself was focused mainly on the defense sector. In 1991, when we had the liberation of Kuwait, the army had to be here with a base in Kuwait and they were required to be settled in. They found out that there was a shortage of having all the support from the labor side in order to go ahead and gather doing other business administrations that requires different nationalities and different support and different capabilities. This is where we came in. We told them they were on their own as for the army and the contractors, but we would provide the manpower, we would provide the service, we would handle everything in the proper way. At that time, it was called a labor broker. But the terminology that we always try to develop is that we provide for your needs and we upgrade. There is a misperception between being a labor provider and doing human trafficking. This is a major issue that we face in the Middle East. There are a lot of people that try to confuse these things. At KRH, we tried not only to go against that, but also to educate the market about it, because that not only affects the business, it affects the whole country’s economy itself. As for the competition, something that I heard on the first day I joined from the owner that I still repeat to my employees because this is something we believe in is that our own competition is ourselves. We always try to compete with ourselves in order to improve our business as we are in the service industry. If we just stick with what we do every day, we will be behind. So, what we need to do is always develop ourselves and have a continual improvement. That is something that we always focus on, including myself, and this is something that has kept us in the race. We do not see who the competitor is. We just compete with ourselves. That is what makes the company grow well year by year.

How has the market responded to this service proposal? What is your ratio for defense versus other sectors?

The percentage of the defense versus the percentage of other sectors in the old days was around 80:20. Now, we are close to reaching the target of around 65:35. The reason why we are doing this is not about diversification only, but even if we increase with the non defense business, such as oil and gas or healthcare or ICT, to improve, still we are increasing the business in the defense. So, the ratio is always going to be there, but the value will increase. The second sector that we have after the defense is oil and gas. And after that, it comes between ICT and healthcare. We are not there to compete in every small business in Kuwait. We have a certain segment that we deal with not in Kuwait but also the region because we are available in six countries. Now, in our vision, we always say that we are your value driven partner of choice. We always mention the word “value”. The value is that we provide you the service and it is not about a price. A lot of the ministries of Kuwait, when they do the tendering, they first look at the price, but not the quality. But, we know that you get what you pay for. So, the idea is to provide the right value to the client. We consider ourselves as part of the other client department that we think with them and find the solution and how can we develop it. That is why with most of our programs that we have been working on, we have been working with them since inception to today. This is something that we are proud of.

Who are some of the clients that you work with?

Kuwait is the hub for the army on the CENTCOM and we have been doing some of the programs since inception, for example, like APS-5, ASP, OMDAC-SWACA, BOSSS program. Until today, some of the contractors have changed, but we are still the provider for the service and we cherish the relation that we have with the contractors, with the client as the US government. As a company, we try to tailor all of the requirements that are needed.

What are some of the services that you provide?

We work with the sponsorship, the legalization, the traveling, the payroll, we handle the accommodation, the transportation, the laundry, the catering, the whole thing. We provide the right one of my personnel that will go ahead and do the job as required on the base and from their side all they have to worry about is this person showing up to do the job and we handle the whole thing for that person at the end. We consider them our heroes in that they are there in the camp, going there they are our staff. One of the things that we are proud of is that some of these employees, they passed on about 25 years working with us. I noticed one time a name and this name is repeated. We have three generations: the grandpa, the dad, and the son. That is exciting, actually. We create a community and the comfort that can go on beyond a generation itself.

At the end of the day, everything that you do is about people and people that you provide to your clients or customers that are going to be your face and representing you. What is the key to success for you and what are the challenges you still face on this?

As we are a service industry and we are mainly focused on providing people, they are the assets of the company. A lot of people look at their people as liabilities in the balance sheet. To us, they are the assets and that is something very important. They are not only an employee, they are a partner in the success of KRH. We are dealing with them from different aspects. For example, COVID is something that has been very difficult on all of us. We always say that being as a resilient organization, to pass and surpass, by taking it as an opportunity to flourish and evolve. Thankfully, with the team, that is what happened. Sometimes these things required that we sit and that is why we have training. We had a couple of courses about wellness and how to react to this, training on how to have that negative effect of COVID and how to reflect it. We also have to be well aware of how we deal with them. Especially if a lot of people are far away from their families and far away from home, they need to feel that they are with another family. We monitor it through our CX team, our employee relations team, our QHSE. In addition to that, through our KRH Academy we always do an ongoing training that will have a certificate. This is not just a job, it is a career. Even in the blue collar, there are a lot of people that look at it that they are going to be a laborer and end up as a laborer and that is not correct. For example, our three generation family: the first one was in the laborer category, the second one was in supervisory and the laborer category, and the third one was one of the executives. So, there is a career path if you want it and if you want to continue training, we will give you that support in KRH.

How is the recruitment in Kuwait? Is it easy to attract the right people?

We created a business model for our recruitment side. We have manpower hubs where we go and attract our talent to come and join the KRH family. That is done by the HR and administration. We do have two levels of HR: the first is specialized for all the categories for our projects and the second is an HR that is specialized for the executives, because it is two different sciences in choosing the right capability of the people that they want to be involved and two different kinds of treatment and approach. We have hubs in Asia, in Europe for the NATO employees, and also in Africa. Every country is unique with its own capabilities and calibers that they come and join Kuwait. There is always challenge. There are two different scenarios: one before COVID and one after COVID. The one before the pandemic was having a challenge with the ministries, getting the right quarters, getting all the paper set up, having them come here. One of the things that we fought was utilization of the right time, what to do when we get the employees and they come to Kuwait because due to the bureaucracy of the requirements for the government, in order to finalize all the papers, it takes around 45 days. These 45 days are ideal for these employees to sit in the camps. We think we should not waste that time. So, we get them immediately into KRH Academy. They have the complete training. You can see what they require and the training that they need. Is it in IT? Is it linguistic? Is it admin? Is it health and safety? There is even a hygiene training or a cultural training to understand exactly what you are working on. So, you would not have that kind of a culture shock. That training goes through an ADDIE model. We do that design, that analysis, development, implementation, and evaluation. After that, we take them to OJT or “on the job training” where they can see exactly how it is. So, when he starts the job, he will not have that kind of a shock in the beginning. He can plug and play immediately and he goes on to do his own thing. Now, after COVID, it has been a challenge. Today, the airport is not open yet to get employees from outside. Number one is to take care of our employees that are here from the different countries in Kuwait and Qatar and UAE and Bahrain, how we can handle their situation, and how they can do the job. COVID is one of these effects that as a company, you should either be resilient or you should come up with how you are going to react in difficult days. And it was difficult days. To us, it was a major challenge. How can you control a complete camp that has a lot of laborers available – you want to not only take care of them, during the curfews not only to provide them with their meals, but also to provide them the right communication, to take care of their health, to do the testing for them, if there are any infected people to take them to set up the quarantine. Without the collaboration of all the KRH team acting as one unit, we could not do that. The number one thing is communication – communication that goes from top to down, and everyone is clear about it, and the agility of taking action. Now, we are prepared to go ahead for a new business. We are just waiting for the airport to open which we expect hopefully by July. Once we start going back to business, we start getting our right employees, and in addition to that, we are working very hard with the government to get all of our employees vaccinated.

Do you work only in Kuwait or do you tend to work also in the GCC area? What is your international reach?

Our HQ is in Kuwait. We do have presence in Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and just recently during COVID, we opened our branch in Saudi Arabia. Very soon, we will have our own office in Iraq.

What is the size of the company?

We are approximately a 10,000 plus workforce, around 500 plus corporate employees to take care of that 10,000, and 55 partners from 15 countries. Our diversity is a major strength for us and this is something that we are proud of. We have an annual turnover of around $200 million. Our average contract cycle is around five years.

Can you explain the benefit of being part of a very large group and more information about it?

We are 100% owned by a group called BIG, Beyout Investment Holding Company. The relationship that we have with our mother company is different than any investment or subsidiary. They are more involved with us in the business. First of all, the Group is very diverse. We consider ourselves as the logistics arm. There is also a real estate arm, an oil and gas arm, as well as a retail arm. We get the support from the Group on the shared services when it comes to HR and recruitment for executives, the marketing activities, IT, even the governance both internal and external comes from there. We have our own separate finance, but at the end, we consolidate with the mother company. When we receive the support service from BIG that all keeps us and the mother company very close in order for any development and they support us in all of that.

Are you interested to attract investors?

It goes not only into KRH but also in the level of BIG and how they look at it from their potential investors that they could participate. We always look for strategic partnerships. We do have some strategic partnerships and some subsidiaries under KRH and some other companies under the Group. There is a qualification level that we have for KRH and for BIG and for the real estate to be ready for listing. That would be the decision by the board and once it has been decided, the CMA requirements are to have other investors as well in the company. So, this is something that could happen in the near future. Right now, the focus for us is mainly to grow and maintain the business of KRH. As for the investor side, that investor relation, this is something that they have in order to seek investment, but there are a lot of approaches happening right now, especially in that the Middle East is always going to be an attractive area for investors from all over the world. There are a lot of developments happening. In Saudi Arabia there are the changes in the new project that is coming. That is why we are now going there to be part of this and to provide the solution for international companies. When they want to onboard in any of these countries and they require services, they will find KRH there to support them.

What kind of awards or certifications have you achieved?

When it comes to any certificate that KRH can gain or add it is to develop its own processes and quality. In the old days, we started going through the ISO certification. In order to do that we needed to focus in order to do the processes. But that was not enough. We went for 9000 and after that, we thought it was time to go for health and safety. So, under environmental we got the 18000 then 45000. Just recently, due to the need of the IT and technology everywhere, it needed to be protected with cybersecurity and that is why we went for 27000. Recently, as well, something that is also to give more of a comfort to international companies involved with us is to understand that there is a lot of misperception of what is happening with the companies in the Middle East. So, we worked with a third party organization called TRACE for anti-bribery to show exactly the level of ethics and the transparency of the company and how we do business. Of course, this is all built up with our code of conduct and this is something that every employee joining the company has to agree to in order to be part of the organization. In addition to that, something that we have been working on for the last three years and we hope that we can finalize this year is the program called Sterling International. Sterling International is a Baldrige Award from Florida State University. We have been working with them for a very long time. We are in the last stage and we hope that we will get the audit by this year. If we manage to do it, we will be the first company in the Middle East to gain that award outside of the US.

Project yourself to the medium term, three years’ time. What is your mission for KRH (Kuwait Resources House)? Do you think the need for your services will continue to grow?

The world is changing and so is the level of the need for a third party to be on board in order to handle the business and to have these organizations focus on their core. It has not only started with us, that started with a lot of companies before us. There is the concept of a 3PL and 4PL that always came out just at a time that they noticed that they do not need to sort out all the staff, we need to go for the third party, we need to do that, why not do your IT in the cloud, why not to have a service to do that, why not have an outsource to have the marketing. The outsource concept has already been there for a very long time: it evolved, it has become a necessity, and not just as a complement to the business or just to use it as a marketing tool. Now, it is the right way to focus on your core business in order for the company itself to spend more on the calibers and the capability of the core business and these other services are to be provided by a third party to handle. The confidentiality is there. The level of the quality has been measured. In previous days, it was a price war between everyone. But then in the later stage, it has been clear that whoever would stay in the market for a very long time is the one who would invest more, and to increase in more of the capability of providing the right service with the right quality that is needed. Working with international companies, we learned a lot. We are a local company, but we build a global mindset in order to provide these services for these international companies. We are still learning and we will never stop learning. We are always going to continue to develop ourselves. We are still there. We did not reach that level yet and when we reach that level, we will continue learning for that as well. Now, I see that there is a major review happening and there is a major change happening in the market, so there are going to be major requirements. Saudi Arabia would be a great market to go ahead and develop. There is a very ambitious plan until 2030 and we would love to be part of that. UAE has always been a great, mature market that is built on a service industry provided so that only the quality can survive and maintain. Here in Kuwait, we are working in some small steps. But there are some changes happening. I can see that when it comes to the logistics, there is more of an interest and focus on it lately. In the oil and gas, there is always going to be a new project. On the defense sector, it has always been the relationship that we have with the government having the base to be developed and there is definitely going to be more requirements. LOGCAP is the major contract that is happening now. It has already been awarded by CENTCOM and there is a mobilization happening right now until July. We are proud to be part of that as well and this is something that we want to expand ourselves. In addition, we would soon add more capability to KRH, which will be a complement to our business and it will be an addition to the service.

What is your inspiration? What is your drive to do what you do?

One of the quotes that I like says going for success and wanting to be a successful person is not the difference between them and the normal people, it is not the lack of knowledge, not the lack of work, but the lack of will. I have a very strong will and this is what always keeps me going. With the right will and consistency, you will achieve. In our business, you always face hurdles and sometimes you need to do a lot of firefighting. But you need to be consistent and have a strong will that you need to continue. Certainly, the truth is that it is not a one man job. I am just part of the team. I have the huge team backing me up and they are actually the heroes, not myself. I am just the guy who talks and tries to hear ideas. But, to tell the truth, it is the team. We have a very strong team in KRH and the Group itself. They are the heroes that got us to where we are today.

For more information, please visit: https://www.krhkw.com.


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