International Fire Buyer speaks to Mike Cottam, Sales Director at Advanced, about his strategy for the Middle East, current trends in fire safety systems and what visitors to Intersec can expect to see on show from Advanced on Stand F22, Hall 4
When did you join Advanced and what is your background?
I joined Advanced just over a year ago. I came from 3M, the global science-based technology company where, over the past 19 years, I held a variety of roles covering sales and marketing, integration, and Lean Six Sigma.
My latest position before Advanced was as EMEA Segment and Channel Leader within 3M’s Abrasive Systems Division based in Dubai, where I headed up the sales and marketing strategy to expand the division’s customer base into key metal-working segments across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
So, you are familiar with the Middle East Region?
Yes, I worked and lived in Dubai from 2015 to 2021. I moved there with my wife and three young sons. It was great to experience the culture and live in the Middle East.
What was your vision for the Middle East region when you started your role at Advanced?
When I started a key part of my role was to continue the growth in existing markets, but it was also to accelerate new international markets. From this I understood the important part the Middle East would play as an area we should invest in and develop a team on the ground.
How has Advanced invested in the Middle East since the last Intersec?
At the last Intersec Sasi Kumar had joined Advanced a short time before as Commercial Manager Middle East and Africa. Advanced appointed Sasi to accelerate the company’s growth in the Middle East. Sasi came from sister Halma company FFE Ltd, where he successfully grew their specialist beam and flame detector business as Head of Sales for Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific.
We have now invested in three new employees in the Middle East, with Business Development Managers Sargunan Sellamuthu, and Hossam Badwy also joining the team. Sargunan was Advanced’s second appointment to the region in a year. He came to Advanced with nearly a decade of fire-industry experience, previously working as a sales manager, successfully handling UAE sales for a European safety systems manufacturer.
Hossam is the newest addition to the team, with a strong sales background, his most recent position was sales lead for global systems manufacturer Johnson Controls. Originally from Egypt he is now based in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia.
What is your strategy for the Middle East Region?
There are three key areas of our Middle East strategy, firstly to drive the Advanced brand so people are aware of the high-quality fire safety solutions we offer. Secondly it is to develop specifications for the brand, so visiting consultants, architects, and key influencers face-to-face to explain the many benefits of Advanced. Thirdly we are looking to develop partnerships with distributors in Saudia Arabia and the surrounding countries in the Middle East. Alongside this we are going to further invest in our Middle East team, we are seeing growth so I would love to continue to expand our organisation in the region. So far this has been stage one of investment in the region and this is set to increase.
What opportunities do you see in the Middle East at the moment?
It is exciting times, with a high level of development, including the giga projects in Saudia Arabia. Alongside this there is also an increase in safety regulation being rolled out which is improving fire safety in the region. Ensuring the right product is specified for the right job is very important to Advanced. It is reassuring for me to know that our broad portfolio of products offers robustness, reliability, and compliance with UL, EN and other important fire safety standards. In this way we’re able to provide specifiers with the versatility of choice to meet a wide range of needs – and peace of mind that the best life safety solutions have been chosen for a particular site.
We also have the flexibility to provide our customers bespoke products. Our AdSpecials department works with our customers to develop customised solutions for specialist projects that our core product portfolio does not cover, we design and build everything from smoke control units to fireman’s control panels, all using tried and trusted technology so if a customer has a complex fire protection challenge, our AdSpecials team will help solve it.
How do requirements in the region compare to elsewhere?
The Middle East is an exciting unique market where both EN and UL fire safety solutions are used. Not all companies can fulfil both requirements but at Advanced we are able to help customers that need both standards in our Axis EN and Axis AX product ranges respectively.
We will have our Axis ranges, with solutions for both EN and UL standards on show at Intersec. The Axis ranges are not only robust and versatile, but also easy to use – from installation and commissioning to servicing, maintenance, and day-to-day operation.
What other products will you be showcasing at Intersec 2024?
We’re delighted to be exhibiting at Intersec again and demonstrating how we can meet a variety of fire-safety needs across a wide range of different sites and sectors. We are keen to show visitors at Intersec that we can provide proven, robust, fire safety solutions that they need. Advanced is also thrilled to be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024 too, we are proud to have been a trusted UK manufacturer during this time providing high quality products.
We will be showcasing both new and updated products and explaining the benefits of each and the problems they can solve. We will also be demonstrating the versatility of our wireless offering at Intersec and showcasing our MxPro 5 open protocol approach. As an EN Standard open protocol fire panel, the MxPro 5 offers freedom, flexibility and safety thanks to the panel’s compatibility with a range of leading detector protocols, making it ideal for retrofits.
What trends are you seeing in the Middle East?
One current trend is the growth in wireless fire alarm technology with customers recognising its benefits including its reliable performance. This growth follows a similar trend in Europe. With wireless technology now tried and tested in Europe, the Middle East region is opting for wireless solutions too, especially following the development of the robustmesh technology. Wireless fire alarm systems are now taking market share from wired variants.
Plus, last April, the Dubai Civil Defense announced that wireless technology could be used for both residential and commercial projects. Other countries in the Middle East look set to follow. As fire safety regulation tightens across the region, wireless fire alarm systems are becoming an attractive solution to retrofit, since buildings do not have to undergo the disruption of running cables which comes with installing a wired system. Some wireless systems, such as Advanced’s Axis EN, also have the advantage of being able to integrate with existing fire alarm systems when an upgrade is required, offering a hybrid system.
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