A pioneering force in the Middle East’s scrap metal industry, Lucky Group continues to set the benchmark for regional industry excellence by implementing Kaizen to secure long-term sustainable growth
Celebrating a Remarkable Journey to Industry Prominence
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Ben Foster
With a policy of Kaizen in place across all of its frontiers, Lucky Group, one of the largest secondary metal recyclers in the Middle East, continues to preserve its home-grown values of credibility, quality and personal service, while delivering products and services that surpass the industry norm.
As one of the oldest operations of its kind in the region, with operating standards and state-of-the-art technologies that set the benchmark for the regional industry, the Group has maintained its core as a family business for more than four decades, with three generations having been involved in managing the global enterprise.
Implementing consolidations where required and expansions in strategic locations to best cater to client requirements, Lucky Group has been able to strengthen the business, which remains debt-free today; mitigating exposure to global economic forces even in the face of slowing demand, shrinking global economies and tightening cash flows felt by other businesses.
In response, Lucky Group has risen to the occasion spectacularly, focusing on a customer-centric continuous improvement strategy that recognises these changing global trends.
“The scrap metal industry is directly linked to international commodity markets, foreign exchange rates and global oil prices; and likewise has been heavily impacted by the slowing demand. Clients are now placing emphasis on quality over quantity to accommodate within tighter budget parameters for production, as well as on building trustworthy relationships between buyers and suppliers as they seek stronger commitment to promised quality, prompt payments, timely shipments and risk-free agreements,” highlights Riz Shaban, Director of Lucky Group’s Gulf operations.
The Group has strengthened its emphasis on highly efficient operations, adopting more current technologies to be able to deliver the exact specifications of its clients. Moreover, Lucky continues to change its product mixes to best meet client demands and has strengthened its presence in the Chinese scrap metal market in recent times.
Shaban adds: “We were one of the first metal recycling corporations to implement a customised ERP system, designed by our Founder and my uncle, Mr Dilawar. The system is tailored to every requirement of the Group’s operational practices. Lucky Group’s parent facility in Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), UAE, situates it in close proximity to the largest manmade seaport in the world, giving the Group a strong leverage in logistics and timely and direct access to global shipping routes.
“It is a combination of these and multiple minor strategies adopted by Lucky that give it the edge over many of its competitors in the industry.”
A brief history of Lucky Group
Lucky Group was established by a young Dilawar Shaban, who arrived in a nascent Dubai in 1973, and Co-Founded by his brother Iqbal. The two brothers grew the business from a small local trading office to a fully-fledged recycling enterprise. Along their journey, three more Shaban brothers, Rafique, Raza and Saleem, joined the effort and encouraged the fledgling local scrap industry to grow alongside the Group as it continued to surpass existing local industry standards. Within a decade, several members of the younger generation were trained and inducted into the Group, establishing Lucky Group as a stalwart family-run corporation.
Lucky Group’s network comprises four leading-edge recycling facilities spanning a total of more than 500,000 square feet – situated in Jebel Ali Free Zone (UAE), Dubai (UAE), Doha (Qatar) and Miami (USA) – fully equipped to handle substantial inflows of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap material. “With the inclusion of its (associate) international trading office in Toronto, Canada and its liaison office in Shanghai, China, Lucky Group collectively handles more than 300,000 MT of ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal per annum. In addition, it also manages marginal quantities of paper, cardboard, rubber and plastic secondary material,” Shaban says.
Furthermore, the Group’s presence in strategic zones across the Middle East, Far East and North America enables it to provide timely service to its national and international business partners. “Adding Doha in 2012, and Miami in 2015, to our network allowed Lucky Group to meticulously cater to our client’s specific requirements for quality, composition and packaging, further aided by the extensive capital investments that have been and continue to be carried out at all of our recycling facilities,” he highlights.
Supplying copper, aluminium, stainless steel, brass, iron, zinc and cables to a highly-selective series of clientele in a variety of industries in more than 40 countries across the world, the Group’s fluid organisational structure and careful monitoring process for quality control has helped it promptly adjust to global and regional conditions.
Shaban confirms: “Each product line strictly adheres to the scrap specifications standards set by the US-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and quality standards set by the China-based General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). Additionally, we are among one of the first metal recycling corporations in the Middle East to be accredited with both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards. Our testament to our quality and service is our greatest asset in solidifying our relationships with our clients around the world.”
Not only this, but Lucky Group’s family-run culture has encouraged its commercial teams to develop close, genuine relationships with its clients and to remain well-informed of changing industry trends. Employing a team of more than 300 highly-skilled and multilingual workers, assessed on individual potential and fit within the existing Group culture, Lucky Group prides itself on employee retention and world-class training to foster genuine and close relationships with staff.
“Maintaining excellent client relationships helps Lucky Group to build new bridges and expand into the emerging economies in the Indian subcontinent and Far East. Further supporting this is our investments in the latest technologies across the Group as part of a gradual technological overhaul to enable each of our facilities to provide the highest criteria of client-specified quality product,” Shaban details.
Since 2013, the Group has been updating or acquiring machinery critical to fine-tuning its operations. He adds: “Our capex spending in this regard has included material handlers, container lifters, horizontal and vertical balers, cable peelers, shearers, conveyor systems, lifting manipulators, portable alloy analysers and handheld radiation detectors.”
Going forward, Lucky Group will continue to diligently follow the principles of Kaizen as an important pillar central to its long-term competitive strategy. By adopting globally-accepted standards of professionalism that surpass industry norms in order to persistently advance its own standard of efficiency, Lucky Group is able to attract a diverse range of potential buyers and suppliers.
“Both shareholders and team members are expected to maintain close personal relationships with their carefully selected stakeholders, and communicate the Group’s values of loyalty, trust, ethical standing and a personal family touch through its commercial transactions. As a result, Lucky Group continues to set the benchmark in the regional metal recycling industry for its quality controls and client satisfaction,” Shaban states.
At the moment, the Group is driven by its Vision 2020; the core of which aims to double its current transaction volume through strategies that have already been put in place and continue to be implemented, including facility expansions, state-of-the-art technological advancements and further streamlining the Group’s exclusive clientele selections.
“The Group’s short and long-term strategies are under continuous revision, since stagnancy is the fastest route to a corporation’s downfall,” says Shaban. “We have streamlined our operations, consolidated our cost centres, strengthened our profit centres and diversified our risks between Eastern and Western markets to solidify and future-proof our foundation.”
He concludes: “Lucky Group looks forward to establishing a facility in every highly-strategic geographical zone in the scrap metal industry that can contribute to its corporate vision and steady long-term growth strategy.”
Honouring his life – Dilawar Hussain Shaban
On March 20, 2016, Lucky Group lost their revered Founder, Dilawar Shaban. He is remembered by his family not only as a dynamic corporate leader, but also as a respected patriarch of the Shaban family and an esteemed philanthropist.
From the onset, every milestone that Lucky Group has achieved has been revolutionary in the region.
Dilawar Shaban proved to be an unstoppable pioneering force in the regional nascent scrap industry. He brought the Gulf region to international attention by signing on as the first member of Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) from the region in 1982. He imported the country’s first mechanical advancements in the scrap industry through installations of baling machines, furnaces and container handlers. The Group’s operational strategies, brand development and the establishment of the region’s first secondary aluminium plant have been revolutionary in the Gulf. His achievements, decision after decision, have continued to accumulate into a great legacy.
Dilawar was known for his larger-than-life personality, his single-minded dedication to his vision and as a master networker. Apart from his role as an all-encompassing corporate leader, he had also taken an avid interest in the world of philanthropy, reaching out to his countless beneficiaries. He was steadfastly committed to seeking for the betterment of his family, the industry, the community and for the greater good of humanity.
The Middle East scrap industry has truly lost a pioneer. Today, his collective triumphs and impressions have accumulated into a grand legacy that Dilawar has left behind him, which the Shaban family and Lucky Group will proudly carry forward.