In Tune With The Times: Michael Khoury, General Manager, Mirodec
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As a company that declares itself to be one that specializes in “the design and execution of custom-made decorative glass and mirrors,” Mirodec is definitely an enterprise that operates in a niche market, but that hasn’t stopped it from thinking beyond the status quo when it comes to doing business.
Having launched in 1982 in Beirut, Lebanon, this family business expanded to the UAE in 2012, and it has steadily built itself up to be known as one of the market leaders in this particular space- Mirodec General Manager Michael Khoury notes that the company now averages 21% year-on-year growth, with shareholders enjoying in excess of 18% return on assets per year. “In terms of market share, and due to the unfortunate lack of solid data in the MENA region, it would be difficult to provide an exact figure,” Khoury adds. “Furthermore, the answer would completely differ depending on whether one considers the glazing industry as a whole, or considers the interior or decorative industry on its own. For the former, wherein one would account for the exterior façade glazing firms who work in bulk quantities, our figures wouldn’t be as high. However, for the latter, which only includes companies competing in our niche, we can proudly claim to be market leaders with estimated market share north of 40%.”
While it was Khoury’s father who officially set up Mirodec as an enterprise, its journey actually began in the 1950s with his grandfather, who was at the helm of a workshop that catered to a clientele with basic glass and mirror requirements. As such, Mirodec is a family business that’s currently in its third generation, with it adapting and evolving over the years to serve a variety of different industries in the Arab world. “The MENA region is definitely a challenging place to conduct business, yet it offers lots of great opportunities unavailable elsewhere in the world,” Khoury says. “For our business model, which thrives on luxurious projects and flexible labor laws, I couldn’t think of anywhere better to conduct operations. However, there are several considerations that entrepreneurs should be aware of when venturing into business here, and these include frequent changes in legislation, volatility and cyclicality of the economy, as well as a high client default rate. Our greatest success in the business has been adapting to the changing industry, while maintaining constant year-on-year growth.”
Mirodec's work at Qasr Al Watan in Abu Dhabi, UAE
As for the sectors Mirodec typically caters to, Khoury says that the company has seen a shift in that landscape as well. “Historically, hospitality was considered the major sector where profit margins were made,” he says. “This is due to the fact that luxurious hotels, which are quite numerous in the MENA region, spent big on high-end finishes. However, lately, we have witnessed a sharp increase in the high-end residential sector.” Given his leadership role at Mirodec, Khoury has found himself involved in all of its different departments, and that means that he’s been instrumental in deciding how the company innovates and moves itself forward as an enterprise. “When it comes to talking about my mantra for leading the company, it can be summarized in one word: fairness!” Khoury says. “Fairness towards our suppliers by guaranteeing they get paid on time, fairness towards our clients by ensuring they get what they paid for, and fairness towards our employees by making sure they get compensated for going the extra mile.”
That last point is an indication of how Khoury views the people who work for his enterprise- it’s clear that he is someone who believes that a company’s most important asset are its employees. “Hiring and retaining a good executive team is arguably one of the most difficult tasks for a business owner, especially if you operate in an industry which only allows for a limited budget,” Khoury says. “However, quality is still the forefront of Mirodec’s core values. It only hires those with strong skillsets, and therefore ensures that its salaries are extremely competitive with the market to reward this fact.” As for why doing this is important, Khoury draws it down to being an essential tenet of good leadership. “A leader’s first priority should be to build a reliable team on which he can depend on to fuel the company’s growth. The logic should be to try and hire people who can advise you, according to their expertise, what best to do, rather than hiring people to instruct them what to do.”
In an age where innovation is being heralded as the need of the hour for businesses both large and small, Khoury makes it clear that this is a principle that’s already in place at Mirodec. “Innovation is a must in any organization, and it has definitely impacted the way we run business at Mirodec,” Khoury says. “If you compare our operations five years ago to the ones we conduct today, you would definitely spot major differences.” However, when speaking about innovation, Khoury acknowledges that the word has been misused quite a lot by businesses at large, and thus advises his peers to be wary of jumping on trends that don’t really serve a purpose. “Innovation doesn’t always have to be a digital app!” Khoury remarks. “As long as you are providing your client with a better service, or with the same product at a better price, then you are on the right path of innovation.”
Mirodec General Manager Michael Khoury’s tips for entrepreneurs
1. Be proactive
“This is one of the most important traits for a business leader, since a reactive approach will almost always result in failure.”
2. Take care of your employees
“When you do so, they will make sure to take care of your customers.”
“In the MENA, personal connections can go a long way.”
4. Put in the long hours
“Entrepreneurship has no schedule, and it offers no substitute for the long hours. It is definitely not for people who prefer the 9-5 lifestyle.”
“Do not depend on one market or product. Always hedge your risk.