Ali Fauzy, the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Steel Hardware, has been instrumental in steering the company since its inception in 2005. Beginning with a modest retail outlet in the heart of Male’, Steel Hardware has grown exponentially, expanding both its stores and the range of products and services offered.
Our team sat down to have a chat with Fauzy to gain insights about his experience juggling the role of the Honorary Consul while fulfilling his responsibilities as the Managing Director of Steel Hardware.
Could you share the story of your journey in co-founding Steel Hardware? What drove you to take this entrepreneurial step?
The company was founded in 2005, together with my siblings, starting from the very beginning. We each brought our unique skillset to the table, working together to bring our vision to life.
For instance, I possess expertise in logistics and supply management for projects. At the time, I identified gaps and shortcomings in material solutions available in the market. Drawing on my experience, I decided to address these issues by serving the growing markets, specifically the burgeoning tourism and construction sectors. This is what motivated me to start my entrepreneurial journey.
As the Managing Director of Steel Hardware, what challenges have you faced in the industry, and how has the company adapted to overcome them?
Initially, our primary hurdle was securing the necessary funds to get the company off the ground. We are immensely grateful to our partners and the banking institutions that placed their trust in us, providing the ﬁnancial support we needed to overcome these initial obstacles.
The geographical constraints of the Maldives, particularly in the capital city, Male’, proved to be a significant challenge, especially at the beginning, in terms of warehousing and logistics. We were, and still are, contending with poor manoeuvrability as a result of severe vehicular congestion, with a scarcity of available land space for warehousing. Nonetheless, our team stood firm and dedicated, gradually expanding our storage facilities and delivery fleets over the years to counter the increasing demand for materials. This is an ongoing challenge, and we remain committed to ensuring that we retain the same momentum in service.
Additionally, forming a skilled and capable workforce with the speciﬁc talents required has proven to be an ongoing challenge, one that we continue to grapple with even to this day.
How do you balance your role as the Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in Maldives and the pressing demands of being the MD of Steel Hardware?
I wish to express my gratitude, ﬁrstly, to the Russian Government, His Excellency Levan, the Russian Ambassador, and Mr. Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, for appointing me as the Honorary Consul. This appointment has provided me with the opportunity to assist Russian citizens in the Maldives, and I take pride in supporting them with their affairs here.
Furthermore, I have been fortunate to have a reliable team by my side, comprising both my brothers and a dedicated professional workforce. They have consistently supported me and the company in various aspects, and I am grateful for their continued assistance over the years. This support has helped me balance both roles in consular work and business.
With the business landscape constantly changing, what is the vision for Steel Hardware in the next ﬁve years?
I aspire to gain recognition as the premier employer brand equipped with advanced technology to cater to the younger generation. Ongoing research is diligently conducted towards achieving this goal, and I am conﬁdent that we will successfully invite our youth to fully unleash their potential. Additionally, I aim to establish myself as the foremost material solution provider in the country, aligning with the demands of our expanding economy. The ultimate goal, as I envision, is to become the leading contributor for the economic and infrastructural development in Maldives.
Steel Hardware has a significant presence in the market. Are there any key milestones or achievements that stand out for you?
Securing the South Asian Business Excellence award marked a notable accomplishment, garnering positive recognition for the company and subsequently increasing exposure for our clientele. The receipt of the Gold 100 award in 2022 also stood as a source of pride for both me and the entire company.
Looking back at your journey, is there something you wish you had known before embarking on the path of entrepreneurship and diplomacy?
Taking on the diplomatic role has been a new and unplanned experience. Nonetheless, I am content to assume the responsibility and aim to broaden my experience in this capacity.
Looking back on my journey at Steel Hardware, I recognise potential areas for improvement, particularly in implementing environmentally friendly strategies and reﬁning human resources policies. Furthermore, I believe we could have reached even greater heights had we invested more in technological development and acclimatisation during the early stages of our inception, which could have enabled us to surpass our current achievements quicker and more efficiently. I am currently developing initiatives in these aspects to enhance our overall service to customers.