Samer Khoury is President of Engineering & Construction at Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC). He is a board member of more than 28 regional and international organisations, along with Arab and international economic institutions. He has worked for the firm – established by his father and late uncle – for 22 years, and has been President of the firm’s Engineering and Construction Division since 2011.
Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) is a 5.3 billion dollar construction and contracting giant, that was founded in 1948 by the Lebanese Khoury family. To the surprise of many, the company’s global headquarters are not in Riyadh, Doha, or Abu Dhabi – leading business centres of the Arab world – where much of its work is completed. Instead, since 1976, CCC has called Greece its home, with its headquarters in Athens being viewed as the perfect base to project-manage its operations, in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and elsewhere.
“CCC thinks in the long term, for us this is home”, said Samer Khoury, President of the company. His father and late uncle moved the business to the Greek capital, when Lebanon was engulfed in civil war – a decision that CCC is happy to stand by today. “Many of the best companies in Greece are family owned, like us, and with family comes reputation”, Khoury commented, adding that Greece has become part of the fabric of the company, and a place that all of its staff consider their home.
While CCC carries out its work and delivers its projects, in countries, for the most part, to the east and south of Greece; as a company, they are nevertheless invested in the continuing growth and stability of the Greek economy.
“The last decade has taken its toll on all companies here, including CCC”, reflected Khoury, alluding to the effects of the Greek financial crisis. However, where some see the glass half empty, others see the glass half full.
According to Khouri, the economic turmoil has effectively made Greece more competitive and open to inward investment, such as Chinese investment at Greek ports, and the scheduled gas pipelines and energy infrastructure projects that are being developed throughout Greek territories. This, he believes, should lead to cheaper energy and a more competitive labour market.
Speaking of gas pipelines, CCC are ambitious about their plans for large scale energy projects in the Middle East, but also in the Eastern Mediterranean. “Oil and gas are one of the dominant factors of the business, and the emerging market in the Mediterranean is definitely an area we will continue to look at”, Khoury enthused.
With CCC committed to its Athens base, it makes sense that it leverages the city’s strategic position for the benefit of its business development, but also with a broader objective in mind – one focused on regional development.
Close to the East-West axis, Greece is positioned within easy distance of the Arab world, where CCC was born. With this in mind, Khoury and his team conceived and launched the annual EU Arab World Summit, which is held on a yearly basis in the Greek capital. The objective being to bring the two regions closer together, forging cultural and business ties, and breaking down existing barriers to business development on both sides.
“There are 22 Arab countries in the Middle East, and we feel that trade between the region and Europe, including Greece, is not to the level it should be”, Khoury highlighted, adding that Europe, in general, has a lot more to offer Arab investors than just shipping and transport solutions. The third summit was held recently in November, 2018, in Athens, and CCC’s President is optimistic that it will lead to real business relationships being formed.
“We are delighted to act as a catalyst in some way for that”, he concluded.
Innovation and Sustainability
CCC undertakes projects on a massive scale, often transforming green or brown field sites as part of their work, and frequently in environments that are climatically harsh and geographically remote. Innovation is the key to success, and efficiencies drive that success. The company has never been afraid to embrace technology and innovate, but, as Khoury pointed out, the human dimension is still vital for success.
A 2018 report, produced by the World Economic Forum (WEF) said that the construction industry could benefit from full scale digitisation, to the tune of 1.7 trillion dollars, globally, over the course of the next decade. With business and cost benefits in mind, CCC has driven ambitious solar power projects, and is embracing the growing potential of disruptive 3D printing technology.
When it comes to technology, the word at the forefront of the discussion is currently ‘automation’, and when you spend – as CCC does – between 300 to 350 million man-hours per month on direct construction, even saving 5% of that via automation would make the firm millions. “This is still in its infancy and requires a lot of partners”, said Khoury, referring to automation. “At the end of the day, in life or business, human values and human interaction are highly valued. I don’t think we will get to a point where you could automate the whole EPC chain. First control the wastage, then improve the productivity.”
With an eye on controlling costs and productivity, CCC have partnered with industry leading firms in Europe, in the field of 3D printing, to build a digital warehouse for 3D printing parts. They have also partnered with leaders in the field of Building Intelligence Management (BIM) systems, which harnesses both 3D and 4D technology. “Both are very powerful tools for the future”, said Khoury.
Moving the discussion to sustainability, Khoury highlighted that no company – no matter what the size, – can be ignorant of their environmental obligations, particularly in relation to CO2 emissions. CCC have been innovative in relation to how they incorporate this into their operations. Their average construction camp can be composed of up to 5,000 workers, often living in a desert, or other remote area. These facilities obviously require a lot of power generation, a large quantity of diesel, and therefore create a considerable amount of emissions.
“However, we have developed, in partnership with a German company, a battery storage system for our cabins, which allows for them to run overnight, purely on solar power, which is stored up during the day”, explained Khoury. CCC have three camps presently running on this system, and hope to expand it across their operations. The technology was recognised for an award at a recent convention, with Khoury adding that sustainability is to the fore of how the company is developing their business.