Kenya Engineer interview with Mabati Rolling Mills (MRM) CEO – Mr Andrew Heycott
Since inception in 1961, MRM has continued to lead Kenya’s metal coated Roofing Sector and is credited as the first company in Africa to produce coated steel using a patented Aluminium – Zinc alloy.

1.What makes you stand out in the market?
We have been the leading manufacturer of Metal Coated and Painted Steel Roofing Solutions for the Building and Construction Industry in Kenya for more than 50 years for three main reasons. Most importantly our Customers have the knowledge, satisfaction and trust in both our Company and the leading product Brands we stand behind. Secondly, we have always strived to be at the forefront of Steel Coating Technology and were the first Company to offer a superior Aluminimum-Zinc coating system under License from BIEC. This technology is acknowledged to be far superior to traditional Galvanised Coatings and offers superior performance to Corrosion over the long term. Thirdly we take great pride as part of the Safal Group of Companies in employing, developing and nurturing the highest calibre workforce who all form part of the MRM Family.

2. What are some of your cutting edge products?
All our Roofing products are coated using the latest Aluminium-Zinc technology and Painted using the highest quality Paint systems available. We have a wide range of products catering to all sectors from the famous DUMUZAS to our premium range of premium Tiles such as VERSATILE and our most recent premium Stone Coated Tile range called LIFESTILE. We are also on the leading edge of industrial and commercial innovative products such as our SAFLOK concealed fixed roofing system and most recently a new Light Weight Steel Truss Roofing system called UltraSpan.

3. Kenya, like many other African states, has nearly half her population living below the poverty line. How do you ensure that MRM’s roofing products are accessible and affordable to the lower, medium and upper segments of the Kenyan society?
Because of our long term local presence we have come to understand the needs of the Kenyan consumer well and develop tailor made products accordingly. We understand that different people want different solutions and our multiple product range caters to this. From our tried and tested Dumuzas which covers so many Kenyan dwellings to our premium Stone Coated LifeStile which is now gracing many high end Houses across the Country, we have a product to fit everyone’s budget.

4. Production of substandard goods and the problem of counterfeiting remain a challenge to many local companies and even international brands. Have you ever experienced counterfeiting challenges in this market? How best do you think the problem can be solved?

This is a serious and growing problem that we all must continue to address both as leading Industry players and as Kenyan Companies. We espouse strongly to the  Buy Kenya-Build Kenya initiative and work closely with the relevant Authorities on containing this problem. There are only two things that will resolve this in the long term and they are for the Authorities to enforce the relevant Quality Standards and Legislation and for the Consumer to ensure very carefully that they are getting the product they are paying for and demand locally made… We, like many Kenyan manufacturers hope that the Community understands that in buying locally made products they are providing much needed Employment for the developing Kenyan Youth.

5. Briefly, take us through MRM’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives

MRM has a belief that ‘Our Communities are our Homes’ and operates an integrated CSR Strategy built around the core pillars of Education, Health, Shelter and the Environment. The Safal-MRM Foundation has two major projects in Mariakani near our largest manufacturing facility. The Mabati Technical Training Institute and Mabati Medical Centre serve the people of Mariakani area and the general coastal region. The Institute offers courses such as tailoring/ dressmaking, arc welding, electrical wireman, motor mechanic, computer packages amongst others at subsidized fees and aims to offer employability to the under privileged Youth of the region. We educate up to 700 Students per annum in both short and long Technical course. The Mabati Medical Centre offers affordable quality primary health care treating up to 40 000 cost. In 2015, we opened a state of the art Diagnostic, X Ray and Ultrasound Centre and in 2016 are planning to open Eye and Dental Clinics.

More broadly, MRM supports many requirements across Kenya for Institutional re-roofing projects and other charitable causes each year and in our operations aim to run the most energy efficient and environmentally sustainable processes possible.

6. MRM has won the coveted Company of The Year Award (COYA) severally in the past. What measures have you put in place to promote positive personal and professional growth for employees and the general community in which we live in?

MRM believes in a return on investment policy. By investing in our employees, we are ensuring return in value for our company. MRM staff are constantly engaged in internal staff training that promotes them both personally and professionaly. Once they go through these various trainings, they are equipped with skills that will further enhance their abilities. In addition to this, MRM conducts trainings for roofing installers across the country hence enhancing their skill sets when  it comes to roofing.

7.Does MRM have other specialist products to complement the roofing brands?

Indeed we operate under the mantra of being a ‘Roofing Solutions’ Company which in turn means we need to offer a plethora of complementary products to give clients the best overall Building solution. Apart from our well known roofing brands, we have many related products such as Fasteners, Flashings, Louvres, Gutters, Downpipes, Foam Fillers, Sisalation, Insulation, Clear Polycarbonate sheeting and Light gauge Steel Trusses, just to mention a few. This simplifies the buying process as customers are able to get all they need at a ‘one stop shop’. We also have Service Centres located strategically across Kenya to make it easy for our regional Customers to deal with us. Of course for some projects we need to custom make some products also to meet a specific design need.

8.Has MRM put measures in place to ensure that its manufacturing processes are crafted and managed – to be able to control harmful emissions and waste? If so, how?

MRM strives to always comply with relevant Legislation throughout all our processes. We aim to minimise Energy consumption through our Technologies, maintaining our plants to the highest standards and managing our waste products to have minimal impact on the Environment because sustainability ie key to any Manufacturing business. We are ISO14001 compliant and work closely with the relevant Authorities such as NEMA at all times. We run continuous improvement projects under our ‘Lean’ Manufacturing strategy to reduce our energy footprint and waste output. We also recycle much of our Water and of course Steel remains one of the most recycled materials on the Planet. Our new Colour Coating Line being built at Mariakani employs the latest Technology from Korea and will recycle more than 90% of the energy input through world class energy recovery practices.

9. Any other role you play in promoting growth in this field?

MRM challenges itself to be seen as an ‘innovator’ and that means pushing ourselves to provide the market with the latest products and Roofing solutions. Through our Group’s global reach we are able to understand trends in Coated Steel products for Roofing, architectural developments and other potential applications which we can then bring to Kenya.   A good example would be our Saflok 700 concealed fixed Roofing. We can produce this to customers on  site with no joints and no fasteners so you are guaranteed a leak proof and beautiful roof solution.

It would be no use having great products if we don’t have professionals who can install them so MRM has a broad training programme in place for Roof Installers across Kenya to ensure we have qualified people in the field, every day.

We also strive to support Technical development in Kenya and presently in conjunction with The University of Nairobi we are undertaking detailed Corrosion Research across the Country to better understand how Steel products behave over time. This not only brings a wealth of Technical data for the Country but ensures we can tailor our future products to be the ‘best in class’.

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