Pultron has new CEO in Dubai

THE NEW GUY: Meet Pultron Composites’ newly installed chief executive of the company’s Dubai-based non-metallic rebar subsidiary, Mateenbar. Formerly CE for Amiblu, a glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) pipe production and technology licensing business, Mr Crofts holds a first degree in materials science, an MBA and is a chartered engineer. Pictures supplied
THE ENGINE ROOM: Pultron chief executive Jasper Holdsworth (left) hands over the keys to Nick Crofts, the recently-installed chief executive of the company’s Dubai-based rebar subsidiary, Mateenbar.

Gisborne-based Pultron Composites recently announced the appointment of Nick Crofts to the new position of chief executive at its subsidiary in Dubai, Mateenbar — he talks to Mark Peters . . .

The Dubai-based factory Pultron Composites established in 2010 to produce a non-metallic, corrosion-free product for use in civil engineering structures now has a chief executive.

Former Amiblu CEO Nick Crofts has taken on the role at Pultron’s rebar (reinforcing bar) subsidiary Mateenbar — from the Arabic word Mateen, which translates to “strong and durable”.

As former CEO for glass fibre-reinforced polymer pipe manufacturer Amiblu, Mr Crofts is well-suited to his new role.

His background in high-performance, glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) composites and civil engineering has helped smooth the transition.

“I’ve worked overseas all my life and even the UK-based businesses I ran were export driven,” he says.

“In many ways Mateenbar feels like a natural next step into a more entrepreneurial environment.”

Both Amiblu and Pultron are market leaders for their respective glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) products, and both target traditional, corrosion-sensitive materials, says Mr Crofts.

The client base of large engineering and procurement companies, as well as consultant engineers and governmental end users, is identical.

“But the scale of Mateenbar is very different and this takes some adapting to. I have always liked to be hands-on but in Amiblu that was more optional.

“The advantage of a smaller organisation is we can move quickly as opportunities evolve.”

An appetite for growth

Mr Crofts took on the role of CEO at Mateenbar after seeing through the merger of Saudi Arabian pipe products manufacturer Amiantit and GFRP manufacturer Hobas (which together formed Amiblu).

“I had an appetite for change and growth.

“GFRP pipe growth was stalled because of mistakes made during its infancy. Growth attracted new entrants and what started as a blue ocean of opportunities became a red ocean of internally-focused competitors.”

The commercial environment for GFRP was not in a healthy state, says Mr Crofts. Cost became a focus too early and shortcuts were taken.

“We developed standards and tests that helped rehabilitate the product, but even today there are businesses that will not consider it.”

GFRP rebar is now in blue ocean territory. Standardisation, science and diligence will help ensure it stays that way.

Many people in the composite industry recognise rebar as its largest future-growth engine, says Mr Crofts.

Unlike steel, the heavy-duty Mateenbar is impervious to corrosion and is well-suited for structures such as bridges, wharfs, sea-walls, road, industrial plants or any area susceptible to corrosion of steel reinforcement.

The product can also be used in structures such as toll booths or transformer pads where its non-conductive properties are key.

“I believe it will surpass automotive and wind energy in terms of glass and resin consumption.

“As the technical market leader, Pultron represents about the most exciting role I could imagine taking.”

The rebar advantage

Amiblu’s GFRP pipe products and Pultron’s rebar have light-weight, strength and corrosion-resistant properties in common. While with Amiblu, Mr Crofts introduced “sustainable pipeline solutions” into the company’s brand.

Promotion was based on life-cycle analysis with a long-term perspective.

“It really worked when selling to private hydropower investors. In municipalities it was harder as perspectives were shorter in term.”

But because GFRP pipe is further into its lifecycle, the product is seeing less growth.

Pultron’s Mateenbar has a significant market advantage. Concrete reinforced with steel in corrosion-sensitive environments is fatally flawed from day one. Infrastructure is failing within 20 years, not 50, and this is scandalous, says Mr Crofts.

“In the absence of choice, engineers are specifying stainless steel at phenomenal cost. Worse still, we are now seeing pitting corrosion even with stainless steel.

“The growth rate of GFRP rebar will massively surpass the early growth rates of GFRP pipe as the industry wakes up to what it is doing,” says Mr Crofts.

Amiblu was a 50 percent joint venture with a large Saudi Arabian group that he had considerable contact with, so he is comfortable living and working in Dubai.

“The local people are incredibly sociable and open,” he says. “With its enormous expatriate community, Dubai is a little different — but you make friends quickly and the region is very business friendly.”

Mr Crofts is excited about the future with Mateenbar.

“I feel I have joined the right company at the perfect moment. It’s more than that because I feel the cultural fit is incredibly strong. In Amiblu we benefitted from having R&D headquartered in Norway. The Norwegian brand made our products smart, low-risk and high performance.

“I see New Zealand in very much the same way. The link between Dubai and New Zealand is very important.”

Gisborne-based Pultron Composites recently announced the appointment of Nick Crofts to the new position of chief executive at its subsidiary in Dubai, Mateenbar — he talks to Mark Peters . . .

The Dubai-based factory Pultron Composites established in 2010 to produce a non-metallic, corrosion-free product for use in civil engineering structures now has a chief executive.

Former Amiblu CEO Nick Crofts has taken on the role at Pultron’s rebar (reinforcing bar) subsidiary Mateenbar — from the Arabic word Mateen, which translates to “strong and durable”.

As former CEO for glass fibre-reinforced polymer pipe manufacturer Amiblu, Mr Crofts is well-suited to his new role.

His background in high-performance, glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) composites and civil engineering has helped smooth the transition.

“I’ve worked overseas all my life and even the UK-based businesses I ran were export driven,” he says.

“In many ways Mateenbar feels like a natural next step into a more entrepreneurial environment.”

Both Amiblu and Pultron are market leaders for their respective glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) products, and both target traditional, corrosion-sensitive materials, says Mr Crofts.

The client base of large engineering and procurement companies, as well as consultant engineers and governmental end users, is identical.

“But the scale of Mateenbar is very different and this takes some adapting to. I have always liked to be hands-on but in Amiblu that was more optional.

“The advantage of a smaller organisation is we can move quickly as opportunities evolve.”

An appetite for growth

Mr Crofts took on the role of CEO at Mateenbar after seeing through the merger of Saudi Arabian pipe products manufacturer Amiantit and GFRP manufacturer Hobas (which together formed Amiblu).

“I had an appetite for change and growth.

“GFRP pipe growth was stalled because of mistakes made during its infancy. Growth attracted new entrants and what started as a blue ocean of opportunities became a red ocean of internally-focused competitors.”

The commercial environment for GFRP was not in a healthy state, says Mr Crofts. Cost became a focus too early and shortcuts were taken.

“We developed standards and tests that helped rehabilitate the product, but even today there are businesses that will not consider it.”

GFRP rebar is now in blue ocean territory. Standardisation, science and diligence will help ensure it stays that way.

Many people in the composite industry recognise rebar as its largest future-growth engine, says Mr Crofts.

Unlike steel, the heavy-duty Mateenbar is impervious to corrosion and is well-suited for structures such as bridges, wharfs, sea-walls, road, industrial plants or any area susceptible to corrosion of steel reinforcement.

The product can also be used in structures such as toll booths or transformer pads where its non-conductive properties are key.

“I believe it will surpass automotive and wind energy in terms of glass and resin consumption.

“As the technical market leader, Pultron represents about the most exciting role I could imagine taking.”

The rebar advantage

Amiblu’s GFRP pipe products and Pultron’s rebar have light-weight, strength and corrosion-resistant properties in common. While with Amiblu, Mr Crofts introduced “sustainable pipeline solutions” into the company’s brand.

Promotion was based on life-cycle analysis with a long-term perspective.

“It really worked when selling to private hydropower investors. In municipalities it was harder as perspectives were shorter in term.”

But because GFRP pipe is further into its lifecycle, the product is seeing less growth.

Pultron’s Mateenbar has a significant market advantage. Concrete reinforced with steel in corrosion-sensitive environments is fatally flawed from day one. Infrastructure is failing within 20 years, not 50, and this is scandalous, says Mr Crofts.

“In the absence of choice, engineers are specifying stainless steel at phenomenal cost. Worse still, we are now seeing pitting corrosion even with stainless steel.

“The growth rate of GFRP rebar will massively surpass the early growth rates of GFRP pipe as the industry wakes up to what it is doing,” says Mr Crofts.

Amiblu was a 50 percent joint venture with a large Saudi Arabian group that he had considerable contact with, so he is comfortable living and working in Dubai.

“The local people are incredibly sociable and open,” he says. “With its enormous expatriate community, Dubai is a little different — but you make friends quickly and the region is very business friendly.”

Mr Crofts is excited about the future with Mateenbar.

“I feel I have joined the right company at the perfect moment. It’s more than that because I feel the cultural fit is incredibly strong. In Amiblu we benefitted from having R&D headquartered in Norway. The Norwegian brand made our products smart, low-risk and high performance.

“I see New Zealand in very much the same way. The link between Dubai and New Zealand is very important.”

A love of science

Pultron Composites’ newly established Mateenbar chief executive, Nick Crofts, has always loved science and technology.

Born and educated in England, he says he was lucky to have a father “who even today is considered a legend in plastics technology”.

“I followed his lead and was sponsored through university by Raychem.”

On completing a graduate training programme Mr Crofts joined a research and development team, but found he was happiest when out talking to customers. He eventually switched from R&D into more commercial roles.

“My passion is building teams and businesses that apply materials technology to market needs,” he says.

“When you keep asking yourself ‘how do I make my customers more successful?’ you can’t go far wrong. Rebar feels like a great place to focus today.

“I like to think I help get the best out of teams. I shape roles around people more than many managers I have met.

“If you can adapt roles around strengths, you end up achieving more and having fun.”

The key to his success is in retaining talent and having great support, he says.

“The concept extends to customers — selling by pulling teams together across businesses. When you look at Pultron this is exactly the culture and working practice the Holdsworth family have in place.”

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