You read that right. We don’t play by the rules. We haven’t done this once in the last 18 years. And we don’t ever intend to.
When we launched Fabtech in 1999, we were just another upstart in the Indian pharmaceutical allied sector, competing with a whole bunch of players, big and small. There was no Godfather to guide us as we took our first steps. We made mistakes; learned from them. There was no legacy. No network. No hand to hold.
While we made our presence felt in the Indian market, we decided early on that India wasn’t a large enough canvas for our ambition. So we also went looking for projects overseas before we looked for projects in India. We won a few and lost plenty. But the world is ours to conquer. And conquer it we will.
Over the last 18 years, we’ve delivered over 700 projects in over 53 countries. We’re building Fabtech into an engineering powerhouse, project by project. And we sure as hell aren’t doing it by playing by the rules.
We are the “crazy ones” in the iconic Apple commercial. Much is said about us by people who understand very little about how we do things. Our success is often attributed to luck. Luck and a lot of rules being broken. So, I’m going to open Fabtech’s playbook and let you take a peek at some of the rules we’ve broken over the years and will continue to break. It’s not the most complete list by far because hey, there will always be more rules to break and I’d like to leave some for the next post. But it’s enough to give you a roadmap.
RULE # 1 Don’t take risks
I’m often asked why we take on projects in conflict and war zones. The answer is simple. We’ve been doing business with companies in these regions before their countries went to war. When the conflict first started, we could have taken the easy way out and bailed, but these were people we knew. Companies we had helped build. So we stayed committed to these projects. And we delivered them. Along the way, we developed a reputation for being a “War” team. It’s a moniker we wish didn’t ever have to exist, but it is one we have rightfully earned.
We at Hama Pharma are really grateful we chose Fabtech as a partner for our pharma project. They made many valuable recommendations that benefited our project in the long run. They did not abandon us and held our hand when the Syria situation escalated out of control. They were incredibly efficient and solved every single problem that came their way – whether routine or as a result of the conflict.
Mohlam Alhalabi. Hama Pharma, Syria
RULE # 2 If it’s not working, abandon ship
When you work in countries with complex geographies, impossible terrain, or even conflict zones – things go wrong. In all the years we’ve been in business, we’ve never once abandoned a project. We’ve always found a solution. We’ve always made sure the project stayed on track. We’ve used each one as a learning experience and built a reputation for being the company to call when the brief is, well, simply impossible.
Fabtech’s strategies, personnel and detailed project plans are simply impressive! Despite the harsh weather conditions, different living culture, logistics and visa challenges, Fabtech stuck with the agreed plans and timelines. They did not compromise on quality or delivery. Everyone on the team plays a role in the delivery of the project, and that’s what makes Fabtech so successful. Both Fabtech and our project have become a reference for pharmaceutical projects in the region.
Yunis Ahmad. Sudair Pharma Company, Saudi Arabia
RULE # 3 Don’t clean up someone else’s mess
We’ve been asked to rescue abandoned projects. Projects that were being managed by another contractor who bailed because things got too difficult. Because they didn’t have the project capability, team or expertise in the first place. Or because they underestimated the geopolitical landscape and were clueless about what they were getting into. We’ve revived a vaccine project in Nicaragua, a soft gel facility in Bahrain, an IV solutions project in Sudan and a multi-dosage plant in Nigeria. Projects that would otherwise never have seen the light of day have become references in their markets.
We started our cooperation in a relatively unpleasant time for my company because our main contractor at that time didn’t manage to deliver the project on time and to full scope. Fabtech had the will, resources and capabilities to analyse a highly sophisticated pharmaceutical project and to deliver it including implementation of several improvements from a technical point of view that allowed us to create an even more efficient and state-of-the-art facility. I believe that great companies, especially those working in the sphere of healthcare, bear vast responsibilities to nations and people. Our common aspiration is to deliver best solutions, production practices and products to enhance the level of life. These are the values that Fabtech shares with my company. I have an explicit belief in our long-term relationship and cooperation for the best of quality of life of all nations around the world.
Stanislav Uiba. CEO, Mechnikov, S.A. Nicaragua
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We were setting up a $40million WHO Pharmaceutical Products Formulation Plant at Sango Otta, Ogun State, Nigeria. A $6.5million contract was awarded to a firm in Bangalore, India to plan, supply, install, validate and commission the project that would deliver six different dosage lines. The project stalled for 18 months in the hands of this company due to sheer incompetence and inability to mobilise the right resources.
While in limbo, we were introduced to Fabtech who came to our rescue deploying an experienced project planning, execution and management team. Their competence was clear from the very day they were awarded the contract until they completed the work in 15 months. They brought an unassailable professionalism, versatility, responsiveness, and speed to bear on the project despite various changes introduced in the course of execution. The project was also delivered well within the timeline promised without any major injuries to any worker. The factory, now the largest pharma facility in Nigeria and West Africa has been up and running for 19 months without malfunctions needing their attention. We have had the privilege to host many visitors from Regulatory, Private and Public Sectors through the new facility. Their comments have all been extremely complimentary.
All of this only serves to underscore Fabtech’s capability to handle any large turnkey project in any corner of the globe. They are a dependable partner, focused on quality, timely delivery and value for money turnkey projects.
Fidelis Ayebae. CEO, Fidson Healthcare Plc, Nigeria
RULE # 4 It’s all about the bottom line
This is one rule we love breaking. The more creative, the better. It’s one of our favourites because we’ve broken it so many times. For us, it’s always about the customer. And we’ll do what it takes to ensure they get everything that Fabtech has to offer – technology, people, commitment, grit. It’s why so much of our business is repeat or referral. It’s why we have over 500 happy customers who know we always keep our promises.
Fabtech exceeded all expectations we have had from a business partner. Their ability to achieve objectives despite limited budgets and constant obstacles was commendable. Their flair for innovation and humility with which they incorporated our ideas and desires with their plans was nothing short of remarkable. The unwavering attention to detail and tenacity shown by the Fabtech team was an indispensable factor in making our dream project come to life. A business partnership of this kind is rare in the world where fierce competition is the order of the day.
Hakim Bouzid, CEO, SARL CPCM Algeria
RULE # 5 Don’t work with governments
While we’ve never resorted to connections, bribes or government intervention to win a project, our mission is to make medicines affordable – everywhere. To build pharmaceutical capability in markets that have none, eventually, we will need political will on our side. And when the time comes, we WILL work with governments in these economies to drive change.
We break the rules because someone should. We could play it safe. After all, it’s easier to pick off low hanging fruit than go after the impossible. But we like the impossible. It’s simple: no one else can do what we can. If they could, they’d all be doing it.
And, when you get down to it, everyone wants to be us.
This post was originally posted on LinkedIn on January 9, 2018.