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“Our presence in the special economic zone allows us to react much faster to customer requirements”

For more than 50 years, R&M (Reichle & De-Massari AG) has been developing and producing leading cabling solutions for high-quality communication networks. With 1,100 employees worldwide, the family-owned company has also been operating in the Middle East since 1999. Its regional headquarters is located in the Dubai Free Zone, where tailor-made solutions are also produced and developed.

Dubai is an ideal location to serve customers out of the Dubai Airport Freezone.
Dubai is an ideal location to serve customers out of the Dubai Airport Freezone.

R&M solutions are used in office buildings and data centers, and by network operators as well as in homes and industry. R&M operates globally and is one of the leading providers in Europe and the Middle East. It all began in the region with a sales office in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai in 1999. Since the business was developing well for R&M, the company decided to settle in the Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA) in 2001.

“Our customers expect tailor-made solutions and we must be able to respond quickly to local requirements,” stresses Stefan Grätzer, CTO at R&M. If necessary, global products and systems are adapted directly in an integrated assembly in the DAFZA. In addition to data centers and telecoms companies, R&M also counts hotels, hospitals, public administrations, commercial and financial services among its customers in the Middle East.

Accelerated governance processes

The processes are fast and straightforward and are handled primarily via smartphone or tablet. “In the past, official processing often took somewhat longer,” says Grätzer. Proximity to the airport was an important criterion when choosing the headquarters. “Since the entire region is supplied out of the DAFZA, the parts usually no longer need to be stored temporarily.”

Faster for customers

Being present in a special economic zone is ideal for companies that do not need large production areas and who have to get small parts quickly from A to B, since it can massively accelerate their logistics processes. “An SME must gear itself towards its customers’ requirements and then decide whether this is the right approach,” explains Grätzer. One disadvantage is the high cost of renting in the zone. “For us, however, it pays for itself because we get our products to the customer faster and processes are greatly simplified.”

R&M also uses its offices in the DAFZA for customer visits and regularly provides training sessions. Stefan Grätzer concludes: “If someone sends a representative, you have to apply for access quickly – you can do this over the phone in five minutes.”

What SMEs should look out for

“Personal relationships are fundamental in the Middle East,” says Grätzer. “The two owners of R&M thus regularly travel to the region to meet important customers in person.” R&M already had very good customer contacts before it decided to establish a presence in the special economic zone. “Having a presence, opening an office, getting acquainted with the culture, and then growing quickly and flexibly. The Zone is ideal for this,” stresses Grätzer.

There are huge differences when it comes to liability and payment practice in the Middle East. “If you are aware of this, you won’t encounter any more surprises than you would in other regions,” says Grätzer. It is important to stay flexible in this regard. “Even if a project seems to be going quite calmly, this doesn't mean that you won’t suddenly be asked tomorrow to deliver it within two weeks.” In the Middle East, flexibility and speed are important keys to success!”

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