Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants is a privately-held Dubai based company providing Testing, Inspection and Certification to the building construction industry under multiple accreditations. We spoke to Tom Bell-Wright to find out more about the company itself and to hear his thoughts on the construction industry at present.
Please give me an overview of your company and the services/ products you provide.
Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants is a privately-held Dubai based company providing Testing, Inspection and Certification (“TIC”) to the building construction industry under multiple accreditations. We are in our 20th year and employ over 80 people. Our main business lines are Façade Consulting (principally third party design review and inspection of curtain walls), Curtain Wall Mock-Up Testing, and Fire Compliance which comprises fire testing for Resistance-to-Fire, Reaction-to-Fire and Fire Propagation in facades; Passive Fire Protection Inspections and Product Certification.
How long has your company been established for in this industry? What changes have you seen during this time and how have you adapted to them?
We have been in Dubai since before MacDonalds. I myself came to Dubai in 1993 to oversee the installation of the curtain wall on the then tallest tower in the Middle East. The company was established in 1995. We recognised the need for testing and had the first permanent curtain wall testing equipment in the region. From there, laboratory premises were established to provide the full range of performance mock-up testing. In 2007, it was recognised that there was a need for fire testing, and from that has grown our present Fire Compliance business.
When undertaking a new client or project what approach do you use to ensure the best possible outcome?
For us, the ‘best possible outcome’ is that everyone is happy. For our clients that often means that their product or system passed the testing, but equally, we have to be nice to work with and do a professional job – and they have to appreciate the value that our services have created for them. For us, happiness is seeing our clients happy and not having too much hassle in getting paid. A happy client will speak well of us and will come back: that is the best possible outcome.
What sets you apart from other companies in this industry? What marks you out as the best option for your clients?
We strive to be nice to everyone, we think that being nice is extremely important, particularly in business where we interact with so many people and spend so much of our lives in doing so.
Within the wider industry, how do you distribute your knowledge and experience (for example, do you speak at industry conferences or write literature on your area of expertise)?
Yes. We participate in a half dozen or more industry exhibitions and conferences a year, and are increasing the amount of speaking participation. We also contribute articles on cladding and fire-related topics to industry magazines, some on a regular basis, some occasional.
Please give us an overview of your industry currently? Have you had to overcome any challenges that have strengthened your company values?
Our little corner of the TIC / Building Products industry involves us a lot with the cladding fires which have received so much attention over recent years. I hasten to mention that our company appreciated the danger of the ACP cladding very early on and tried to bring it to general attention in addition to warning our clients. We are now installing the equipment required by the new local codes in order to test materials for new projects, and participating in discussions on how to reduce the potential for fires in the large number of buildings which still have this cladding.
What are your overall aims and what strategies do you employ to achieve these?
We want to provide a range of services contributing to the safety and value of buildings in our adopted home and neighbouring countries. We want to expand into new types of testing where these are extensions of work we are currently doing, and also into new markets besides buildings, such as the oil industry etc.
What is your most successful project to date and what has been the most important thing you have learnt from working on this?
One project does stand out – the National Museum of Qatar. This was a huge project for us, far exceeding in overall scale anything we had done before – in fact we had to rent new premises in order to accommodate it. There were many challenges, starting with the architectural design which was made to resemble the mineral formation call ‘desert rose’. However all was successful and the result was high on the happiness scale for everyone.
Do you have any new projects/business ventures you would like to share?
We are in the process of relocating to new premises that are 3 times the size our existing. This is a very exciting time for us as we grow into facilities which we have designed to meet our own requirements, and with room to breathe and room to expand.
How do you make sure you create innovative solutions to maintain your success?
You make it sound as though innovative solutions are essential to success. We try to be a nice place to work and we try to provide growth and stimulation to our employees through expanding into new areas of business. Figuring things out along the way would be the innovative solutions.
What aspects would you say are essential to creating success in your industry?
Success means different things to different people. Success for the shareholders in a publicly listed company, as some of our competitors are, means maximum earnings. I drove past a competitor’s facility recently and I didn’t notice any trees or greenery, and I suppose that if these are not essential to the bottom line you don’t have them, which is a shame. For us, success is being challenged and rewarded by your work, not being too stressed, enjoying the interaction with other employees and making enough money to be comfortable and to expand the business.
What are your future aspirations for your company? Do you have any plans or projects you would be willing to share with us?
We’re in the process of expanding our capability in small scale fire testing. One other test we are looking at is for the off-shore industry and called the Jet-Fire Test. It will be exciting to be able to offer this test directly to the industry in the Arabian Gulf region.
What does the future have in store for your industry? How do you see your market changing over the next 12 months?
We see positive things for the region over the next few years as Dubai prepares for Expo 2020 and Doha for the World Cup in 2022.
Company: Thomas Bell-Wright International Consultants
Name: Tom Bell-Wright
Web Address: www.bell-wright.com
Address: #81, 25b St., Al Awir Industrial Area, Ras Al Khor,
Telephone: 971 4 333 2692