Turning $3 into $10 million

Narendra Odhrani founder of ESMA, Parker tools distributor, tells O&GME of the firm’s success story

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By  Nicholas Wilson Published  August 1, 2006

ESMA|~|200ESMAOdhrani,-Narendra-.gif|~|Narendra Odhrani: "We have a wonderful, young, dynamic team who are an essential part of our present and future success."|~|Narendra Odhrani, managing director of ESMA Industrial Enterprises, came to the UAE more than three decades ago in its early days. The firm that he founded has grown with the country, supplying its oil industry with equipment. Oil&Gas Middle East talked to the man behind the enterprise about his and its story.

What brought you to the UAE?

My father came to Dubai in the 1960s when the UAE was a plain desert and you could count the number of buildings on your fingers, which were all single or double storey. In those days the country used Indian currency and postage stamps, and water was delivered by truck. The locals were very simple, humble and polite.

In early 1970s, I came to Dubai from Mumbai on a passenger ship on a four-day journey with only US $3 in my pocket, which will remain in my thoughts forever.
I came over having finished my petrol engine automobile engineering training to start an auto-parts workshop and form a company called Super Technical Supply with my brother. We put in about US $1,000 and worked from 7 am to late at night, in very harsh conditions and with very few comforts. We started our business providing spare parts for Land Rover and Bedford trucks, as the country was a desert and the only vehicles you could get were British.

How did that bloom into ESMA?

After a year, the city started experiencing growth and the economy began gathering pace. The late Sheikh Rashid (PBUH) and late Sheikh Zayed (PBUH) encouraged and motivated expatriates to invest and set up businesses here in the UAE.

When the oil boom started in the UAE, our auto-parts business became saturated. We decided to switch over to our current line of business to reap maximum benefits of the situation. We came across companies like Weatherford, Dowell Schlumberger and Dubai Petroleum Company (DPC).

During those years, we were introduced to an American company called Parker. Previously, they were erroneously known as ‘Parker Pen’. We worked hard to change that perception and establish Parker’s name as a high quality, reputable, professional and reliable engineering firm.

In 1981, we decided to open an office in Abu Dhabi since it was mainly oil based. I moved to Abu Dhabi along with my family for seven years to set up the business.

We worked hard to establish it, and after having achieved this, I moved back to Dubai to support our business in Dubai.
Ever since, we have continuously grown to what we are today. We established ESMA in 1992, to cater for the hydraulic engineering and service requirements of our customers.

Through hard work, this grew into a reputable name and has today come to be known as a reliable company for good and professional service.

What steps have you taken to keep growing?

In 2000, we restructured the business, giving greater autonomy to its units to allow stronger growth. I have assumed sole responsibilities for the ESMA Group, which now has a presence in Jebel Ali, Deira (Dubai) and Abu Dhabi, in the UAE. In the past three years our growth has been double digits as more and more big oil projects come on-stream. We have established offices in Baku, Azerbaijan and in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

We have a wonderful, young, dynamic team who are an essential part of our present and future success.

Why have you moved your HQ?

Last year, we moved into our corporate head office in Jebel Ali Free Zone to centralise our administration activities and inventory to enable better handling. From here, we have also opened export channels to neighbouring countries including: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Oman, India and Pakistan.

What’s the parker store concept?

We are the first company in the UAE to incorporate an innovative and unique concept called the ‘Parker Store’—offering customers the flexibility to adapt their equipment to the solutions offered here. Many have also used our premises as training facility for their new engineers.

ESMA provides engineering solutions from over 35,000 line items from some of the most reputed global manufacturers, including Conbraco (USA), Bonney Forge (USA), American Block Company (USA), Elora (Germany), Sandvik (Sweden), Ludecke (Germany), Dixon (UK), Holmatro (Holland), Tractel (France) and Weicon (Germany).

How are you managing the increased demand for all products in this oil and gas boom?

The oil and gas industry is a promising sector due to the high price of oil, and the prospects of the number of new projects here. In addition, steel and cement plants, manufacturing and assembly facilities, aluminium smelters and desalination plants are other sectors that commonly use our services.

We have increased our market share and will increase our local presence in the UAE soon with the establishment of a new branch office in Dubai. Parker Hannifin has more than 220 manufacturing plants worldwide, all of which is supported by its regional manager who actively supports their distributors in the Middle East. Parker is growing very rapidly. Part of their success comes from having their stock available near to the market.

Is your family involved in the ESMA business?

Today, my family is grown and well-settled. Our children were born here in Dubai and grew up here.

My son, Yogesh, studied engineering in London. He was one of the top three students in Brunel University’s Engineering School of Science & Technology, and has now been with an active part of the company for four years.

Both my daughters are married and well-settled.

In additon to hard work, and being in the right market, what do you put your success down to?

I would credit our accomplishments and achievements to the thoughtful guidance and blessings showered on us by my parents, and the blessings of the All-Mighty, and the kindness of our well-wishers.
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