The products and solutions that Mohd Al Sheikh’s company offers put it several steps ahead of the market and the competition.
Since its launch in 2013, the kitchen equipment manufacturer Lion’s Metals has organically grown into seven countries, with 35 distributors and 44 sales points. And, it doesn’t stop there. The company has also managed to secure clients in international markets such as Canada, India, USA and Pakistan. So, our first question to Mohd Al Sheikh, Founder and CEO of Lion’s Metals, is: what is the secret behind the exponential growth of his small business? It has been such a terrific journey and a humbling experience indeed. We’ve gone through highs and lows just like any other company does but what is important is that we are still here today. I think the success of our business can be attributed to two critical factors. One is that we are a home-grown company; we established our business in the UAE and always ensure that the needs of the local markets are met. Second is our diverse product offering; we have over 155 in-house designed unique products ? some of which have already been launched, while some are still in the pipeline.
Trial and error
Although Mohd Al Sheikh has taken his business to new heights, success didn’t come easy. The process of prototyping his product took months and required several iterations. At the time of inception, we took up the challenge of prototyping our ovens, and ended up failing numerous times. Of course, it was a difficult process and we had to be patient. After every failure, the design had to be completely revamped and a new prototype was built.
Developing the perfect product was imperative for Mohd Al Sheikh, and this wasn’t due to his knack for precision.
He knew very well that in his business segment, i.e. kitchen equipment, safety, energy saving, capacity and speed were critical elements. Every detail needed to be thought out carefully before he could launch his product.
After 10 failed prototypes, it was in 2013 that the team had a breakthrough. “We were happy with our final prototype and knew it had everything we wanted. It ticked all the right boxes and was built at an affordable cost, he reminisces.” His determination and perseverance had finally yielded results! What really sets Mohd Al Sheikh apart, however, is that he isn’t shy to talk about his failures. “I truly believe that every mistake, failure or misstep is a learning experience and if it hadn’t been for those first few iterations, we wouldn’t have been able to perfect our product. In fact, my team and I refer to them as the famous failures,” he says jokingly.
Today, Lions Metals not only provides various different models of standalone ovens, but also offers value-added products and services.
“We deal in genuine parts; all parts used within our equipment are made exclusively for us, therefore customers always have to buy them?from us directly. We have also diversified our offering to include accessories such as extra trays, gas regulators and heavy duty lighters.”
In addition to his specialised product portfolio, Mohd Al Sheikh points out that his company is quite innovative when it comes to the operating business model. “Our business model uses a two pronged approach. We not only deliver solutions to Distribution Network Partners (Commercial kitchen equipment suppliers), but also work with major catering companies as well as leading chain restaurants.”
The future is bright
With a vision to strengthen market presence and expand his network, Mohd Al Sheikh is already mulling over the mechanics of his future business model. “We are keen to launch our latest invented products as well as introduce our showrooms across the region that are directly owned by us and then spin those off into franchises. Building an online presence is also a top priority; we aim to create an e-commerce platform to sell and deliver our products. These are all avenues for growth, and will help us reach our customers faster and more efficiently.”
When Mohd Al Sheikh set out to build his business, he had a very clear strategy in mind: to be the first UAE brand that is recognised globally in the kitchen equipment, home appliances and picnic equipment. It is this very ambition that is driving him forward. “Looking to the future, we want to have a solid a footprint in 35 countries in the segments decided by year 2021 and we want to reach AED 1 billion in sales by year 2023,” he surmises. Well, one thing is for sure. There is no one better than the aspiring Mohd Al Sheikh to achieve this ambitious target.
Rushika Bhatia Editor
Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.