Exalto Emirates: we will come through this period of intense challenges stronger than ever – Interview to John W. Paul

Who is John W. Paul general manager of Exalto Emirates?

All marine operators know him because he is leading the biggest trading company in the GCC for marine accessories and parts but do they really know him?

After graduating from University he arrived in the Gulf in November of 1995 working in Saudi Arabia for a large hydraulics and industrial equipment company. After having spent a few years in sales in the head office he was asked to start a new office in Kuwait and ended up living there for 10 years. In that time John built up a successful business and was involved with the reconstruction effort in Iraq as well as executed several project in the Offshore Oil & Gas Industry in Iraq. In 2009 he left the company to pursue his own adventures here in the UAE. Since then John had been working in the Gulf for 15 years it seemed logical to continue in the region and now that he is a 25 year veteran in this area it seems likely that he will complete his working career in the UAE.

We touched base with John to find out more about the future of Exalto Emirates and he was really confident about it.

John: Early March of this year when we were starting to see signs of the global effect the Corona crisis was having we were quick to adjust and made the necessary preparations. We placed sizeable stock orders with suppliers from countries that seemed to be badly affected, we focused our energy directly on sustaining the business and cut out all unnecessary expenditures and we took all relevant precautions to protect our employees and our customers by immediately starting a work from home system and also launched a sanitization and protection program both internally and externally. Even though we had less staff in the office and quite a few of our colleagues were not able to fly back from their home countries we were able to keep the company fully operational. I am not saying we did not have some challenges along the way but we ended up supporting our customers as they had come to expect from us. Especially during the more quiet weeks at the end of March, April and early May we spent a lot of our time pushing through internal improvements both in our company processes, sales activities and website. Especially our website got a lot of our attention and although perhaps not very visible to most customers we have done a complete technical review of the entire site as well as updated the internal search engines to help our customers find what they are looking for quicker and easier. Since it seems the entire world is moving online we wanted to make sure that we were as ready as we could be to keep being available to our customers. In difficult situations we always need to look for the positive and for me the very best thing that happened is that our entire team pulled together, understood the challenges and really stepped up to the plate. I am so proud of everybody that worked so hard and was so dedicated to make sure that as a company we would come through and thrive.

Q1: How is Exalto Emirates  positioned in the GCC market and what changed during this emergency period?

John: Although it is still a bit early to tell I believe that we will come out of this struggle stronger than ever and even better positioned to help our customers make boating better. We work with every single boat builder in the region and most of the other marine industries such as service companies, charter companies and operators and we have been growing our business year after year after year. I believe that we have earned the trust of our customers and they know that we will support them through thick and thin. For this reason I am optimistic that we will strengthen our customer relationships even more after this period which help our customers, us and the entire industry grow.

Q2: Exalto Emirates is always proposing new market trends,one of this period trends is the Smart Working: how is your company dealing with it and what do you think about ?

John: Although we have never spoken this out loud, it has always been one of my personal goals to help our customers build, service and operate better boats. For this reason our company supplies only the best quality parts from the most reputable brands and our team and myself are always on the lookout for the latest products that bring value to our customers. We can take pride in the fact that we were the first to introduce digital switching to the market, are market leader in electric propulsion, are at the forefront of autonomous vessel control technology and always have the latest and newest products. Sometimes however we are not always in the drivers seat but we are driven by what happens around us. One of those examples is “Smart working” which was really forced upon us. I have always loved going out, being on the road and spending time with our customers. Obviously that has been difficult and we had to switch to video conferencing. It has turned to be a blessing in disguise, in a very effective manner we are able to have “Face to face” meetings with our customers that take a fraction of the time. We all get the job done and make our days more productive. Even with our own workforce this has shown great benefits. Overall meetings are shorter, more to the point and we get really a lot done. I think “Smart working” is here to stay and we plan to use it fully to our benefit in the future.

Q3: how do you think the life of the boaters will change  in the GCC after this period?

John: In trying to manage a responsible business we always have to look ahead and think what is around the corner. Of course nobody could have anticipated the impact COVID-19 would have on our market but now that it is here we have to think how it is going to impact boating in genera. Simply put being out on the water by yourself or your immediate family is currently one of the safest ways to spend your time, for this reason I think the interest in boating will remain. There will most probably be some impact because of the economic downturn that we are going through but I remain optimistic and will say that boating is here to stay.

Q4: In 2020 it seems there will be less boat exhibitions than in the past 30 years. How do you think that this will impact the business in the region and what actions are you taking?

John: Also we need to think how we interact with our customers and the greater boating community at large. A few weeks ago I attended the Palm Beach Boat Show in the USA without ever leaving my house. They had set up a virtual boat show and I signed up and had the opportunity to “Walk the Docks”, visit a few boats and check out various equipment suppliers. I even had a chance to interact with Gulfcraft as they were one of the exhibitors. I do not know if this will be the only way of the future when it comes to boats shows but it will certainly be part of that future. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I like more than sitting down having a cup of coffee with one of our customers and showing them around our stand but we need to adapt and if a virtual boat show is what it takes then we will support this. For potential boat owners who have a real interest in boats and for our customers who want to look over the latest products there is of course no substitute for meeting in person, visiting a boat show or going on a sea trial but we will have to see how this develops.

Thanks to John for his time to reply to all our curiosity.

To know more about Exalto Emirates you can visit directly their website by clicking here.

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