It takes passion and foresight for a new generation of leaders to drive a family business forward. That’s how George Youssef, CEO of Egypt-based New Mena Plast, and his brother achieved success: through sourcing new technologies, recruiting fresh talent, and working with the right partners, taking the business into the new millennium.
New Mena Plast was founded in the 1970s by George’s father. By the 1990s, it was the largest manufacturer of PVC hoses for industrial use in Egypt. When George and his brother took over amid Egypt’s infrastructure sector boom in 2005, they realised that they needed to look beyond Egypt’s borders. “We are searching for new technologies, for new partners to try to deliver a value added to our market,” George explains.
This led them to team up with German pipe production technology firm Krah. Being first to market with a new technology is no easy task, but the brothers were undaunted. George points out that they have “the exclusivity of know-how in Egypt” with Krah. This bold step into uncharted territory has paid off, with unrivalled demand for their products. “From 2009 until now, our … pipes are the most-wanted product in the area.”
Sustainability is also a vital component of New Mena Plast’s business strategy. George underscores the importance of finding environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing methods. “We are always in search for new products and new materials that can have less impact on our environment,” he says.
The key to sustainability is finding a product with a long lifespan that can be recycled at the end of its usage period. “We use materials that have a 50-year lifespan, which can later on be reused, making them 100% recyclable.”
To keep the company young and dynamic, George expresses a strong conviction in the ability of new employees. “For talent, we always believe in youth.” Most of his team are under 40 years old, he notes. “We acquire new talents and we give training.” This, he says, is how they inject passion into the business.
George points out that beyond products and technologies, the key to success is finding people who can contribute to the business. “We believe in … not just the product, not just the technology, but persons that can add value to our business.”
This philosophy extends beyond recruitment to other business areas. George describes his company’s relationship with HSBC as a partnership, outlining three reasons he sees the bank as more than just a supplier of banking services.
“HSBC is a partner, not a service provider, this is certainly the mindset of the HSBC team. They are partners in our business, our success is part of their success.”
The dedication of HSBC’s Relationship Managers, who understand their clients’ unique propositions, strengths, and weaknesses, is also key. “RMs in HSBC are always advocating our company, our success, and our future. They take their responsibility seriously.”
Citing reliability and transparency as critical factors in choosing a banking partner, George recognises that HSBC’s ability to deliver these is highly reassuring. “accuracy and transparency with every document secures our decisions and money.”
For George, success is about waiting patiently for the right opportunity and seizing it when it comes. “My advice, it's always about timing. Be ready to take the opportunity when it comes, because letting it go is a big waste for the business.”
George’s passion for the future is clear in his hope that he will forge a path for those who come after him. “I wish my legacy to be that I paved the way to the next generation. Not only to transfer technology and do business, but also to be able to add a value to the technology and to introduce new technologies to business,” he says.
And it is perhaps this belief in technology and willingness to seek out and try new products that sums up his world view. “I think innovation inspires me a lot, because it adds space to our world, it adds new horizons to our business, it adds a lot of hope for the future.”
What do you want your legacy to be?
“...that I paved the way for the next generation and introduced new technologies”
What advice do you have
for future leaders?
“Be ready to take the opportunity when it comes”
What inspires you?
“Innovation… it adds new horizons and a lot of hope for the future”