Thinking Out Of The Box: Unilink Group Managing Director Manzoor Ali On Building A Successful Business Out Of Kuwait

Manzoor Ali is the Managing Director of Unilink Group, a Kuwait-based business that operates in six sectors -self-storage, real estate, logistics, interior design, and electromechanical maintenance and distribution services.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Manzoor Ali, Managing Director, Unilink Group, a Kuwait-based business that operates in six sectors -self-storage, real estate, logistics, interior design, and electromechanical maintenance and distribution services- has an interesting observation of the market demand that his business successfully fulfills. "Our generation has many issues with a lack of space, and thus requires more storage, because we all have become nuclear in every aspect of our life- small families, apartments, office spaces, and the list goes on," Ali explains. "The world has shrunk in all senses of the word, and that is why self-storage facilities have become a necessity."

Unilink Group
Manzoor Ali, Managing Director, Unilink Group

Hailing from Edathirinji, Trissur in Kerala, India, Manzoor was a student of HDPS High School before going on to earn a diploma in civil engineering. He then got to hone his entrepreneurial skills running a small trading business in Kerala, following which he moved to Kuwait in the early 2000s. That's where he got the idea to establish a self-storage business, and in 2009, he officially launched USTORAGE with just two employees and a single storage room. That fledgling business has since grown to become the UNILINK Group with more than 200 employees and 700 storage rooms.

"Currently, Unilink Group has six divisions, including consisting of re-selling and re-renting real estate, providing self-storage facilities for domestic and commercial purposes, logistical support, interior design, and electro mechanical maintenance and distribution divisions," Ali explains. "Compared to market giants in the same fields, we have been doing pretty well, which is evident through our steady annual growth rate year after year."

Source: Unilink Group

However, Ali has faced his share of hurdles along the way, which included difficulties in collecting payments for the group's real estate and storage divisions, which was resolved when he digitally transformed his business. "We used to focus only on manual payments, such as cash and checks, and that took a lot of time and effort," Ali explains. "But, we have now computerized the system, giving an online payment option to our customers, and I can monitor the daily status of our due payments from anywhere in the world." As for the future, Ali's plans include expanding into new sectors and new markets. "We're planning of opening offices in the US and the UK, and venturing into new sectors, mainly hospitality and healthcare," Ali says.

When asked to share the main lessons he learned along his entrepreneurial journey, Ali points out to the importance of the following features: self-confidence, quality preference, punctuality, reliability, and adaptability to change. "All these contribute to becoming a successful CEO, along with your hard work and giving freedom to your team to implement their ideas," Ali says. "It is important to build a strong team, and I often choose candidates with a proven track record to head my various divisions, and while I do give them a tenure to prove their expertise, I still closely monitor them to ensure that they are genuine and can deliver what they promised. This method works for me."

Source: Unilink Group

His final piece of advice for entrepreneurs in Kuwait and across the GCC region is to always insist on delivering their work with the highest quality possible. "Never compromise on quality, whether it is a product or a service," Ali advises. "Ensure the timely delivery of your product or service at any cost, and always follow up which means to provide an after sales service. Last but not least, be adaptable to change, and stay updated on global trends."

Related: Delivering On A Promise: Estithmar Holding CEO Henrik Christiansen