Systemair Saudi Arabia: A global brand supporting the Middle East's vision for sustainable growth
In an exclusive interview featured in the September edition of Saudi Contractor Authority (SCA) magazine, Khalil El Ghazzi, Managing Director of Regional Head Quarter Systemair Saudi Arabia, traces the renowned Swedish ventilation company’s journey towards technical excellence, innovation and sustainability and the organisation’s positive outlook within the Kingdom’s burgeoning construction sector.
At Systemair, we go beyond creating products for the sake of it. Our solutions and components are carefully designed to be sustainable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly while maintaining ease of installation and maintenance.
Systemair is now one of the distinguished brands in the air-conditioning market, and the beginning always has a story. When was the company established? And how did the beginning come? How long did the company need to prove its worth and reach this position?
The company was established in 1974 by Chairman of the Board, Gerald Engström. Since its inception, Systemair has consistently reported an operating profit, demonstrating its long-standing success and reliability. Over the past ten years, the company has become a trusted brand for high-quality ventilation, heating, and cooling products and systems.
Systemair's success can be attributed to its innovative approach to ventilation systems. In fact, the company introduced the pioneering circular in-line centrifugal duct fan, which revolutionised ventilation systems by simplifying their design and functionality. Recognising its contributions to Swedish business, CEO Gerald Engström was honoured with His Majesty the King's Medal in February 2011, receiving the 12th size with the ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim. Over the years, Systemair has continued to expand its global reach through acquisitions and developed our brand portfolio and knowledge and expertise. We remain committed to demonstrating our commitment to investors, analysts, and the financial media through regular updates on strategy, emphasising growth, profitability, sustainability, and the development of smart, energy-efficient products.
Through nearly 50 years of customer service, could you speak on the most important products the company offers its customers? What are the principles that govern the development of these products?
Systemair has significantly expanded its product range, offering a comprehensive selection of energy-efficient fans, air handling units, air distribution products, air conditioning systems, air curtains, filters, and heating products. Our products are designed to be robust, user-friendly, and easy to install.
Our business concept prioritises simplicity and reliability, which revolves around developing, manufacturing, and marketing high-quality ventilation solutions. With our customers as our primary focus, we aim to become the most efficient and supportive partner in tackling indoor air quality challenges.
How many countries does Systemair operate in, and how are the employees representing the company selected in its various branches? Are there plans to expand now?
Systemair operates in 51 countries across Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, and Africa. The company employs approximately 6,600 employees worldwide and comprises about 90 companies.
We understand that sustainability encompasses a broader range of aspects beyond the scope of our products, and we place a high value on equality, diversity, and inclusion as fundamental principles within our organisation. We are dedicated to developing future talent and fostering a robust corporate culture, encouraging learning and growth. We are always open to fostering new talent locally and across the globe. Our commitment to our employees has been a critical factor in our success. We continuously invest in developing our employees, providing in-house training courses through the Systemair Academy.
What are the objectives set by Systemair in mind? How is its achievement measured?
Systemair's products are dedicated to creating a healthy and comfortable indoor climate while minimising energy consumption. Our products serve two essential purposes. Firstly, to create a healthy and comfortable indoor climate. Our solutions are tailored to various environments, ensuring clean air at the appropriate temperature in settings such as schools or facilitating the effective evacuation of fire and exhaust gases in buildings and tunnels.
Secondly, we have a clear mission to minimise energy consumption. We develop products that achieve these desired indoor climate conditions while utilising the least amount of energy possible. Doing so reduces our customers' environmental impact and life cycle costs. Furthermore, our products are designed for easy installation, operation, and maintenance, providing additional value to our customers.
One of Systemair's vital competitive advantages lies in our successful development process, which emphasises market needs and shortens the time-to-market for our products. Our success hinges on maintaining high efficiency and making informed decisions when selecting and prioritising development projects.
How do you see the company's efforts in terms of sustainability? What are the most critical dimensions that you consider? Could you talk about sustainability? What are the most important areas for you?
Systemair's sustainability efforts encompass several vital dimensions that we prioritise: indoor air quality (IAQ), energy savings and minimising our carbon footprint. Regarding IAQ, ensuring clean and healthy indoor air is fundamental to our sustainability focus. Our ventilation, heating, and cooling solutions are designed to enhance IAQ and create a comfortable and healthy environment for building occupants.
Secondly, energy efficiency is at the core of our sustainability initiatives. We strive to develop and provide energy-efficient equipment that enables significant energy savings. By reducing energy consumption, we mitigate climate change and lower carbon emissions. The energy saved (measured in kWh) can also be translated into CO₂ savings, making the impact more impactful and tangible.
Lastly, we recognise the importance of minimising the carbon footprint of our products. This involves increasing the degree of circularity in our products, such as incorporating more recycled and recyclable materials, sourcing environmentally friendly steel and aluminium, and enhancing serviceability and upgradability for long and efficient product lifecycles. Additionally, we focus on addressing the environmental impact of refrigerants by transitioning to lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants and redesigning products to minimise refrigerant usage.
Providing better air quality with minimal energy use is a major goal… How does the company achieve it? And how are the effects of these products on the environment dealt with?
Efficient and sustainable solutions are and will always be our main focus areas. We have always placed a strong emphasis on innovation, and our investment in leading technical centres around the world can demonstrate this. We certify a vast majority of our products by independent, accredited third-party certification bodies such as AMCA and Eurovent. In addition, we have substantial internal benchmarks in place, which can be underlined by the recent launch of our ‘Green Ventilation’ mark, which aims to make choosing sustainable solutions easier than ever.
Green Ventilation is now a trusted benchmark for environmental performance, reflecting our highest standards and addressing critical sustainability factors. It goes beyond energy efficiency to encompass indoor air quality, safety, comfort, Global Warming Potential, and more. Each Systemair product area has specific sustainability requirements determining eligibility for the Green Ventilation label, which are measurable, verifiable, and regularly updated to keep pace with technological advancements. We adhere to general sustainability principles, complying with demanding EU Ecodesign requirements and prioritising energy efficiency.
What services does Systemair provide to its customers? What aspects of subsequent support or guarantees during? What stages of implementation do you offer to clients?
Systemair's Service and Support capabilities cover every step of a product system's lifecycle, from initial start-up and routine operation to monitoring, maintenance, and system upgrading. We believe in delivering comprehensive support to enhance the performance and longevity of our HVAC systems and that providing proper service support is critical. It helps clients meet their individual requirements and improves overall installation, operating, and maintenance practices.
We are by our customers’ side every step of the way. We also provide many informative tools and reference materials that help consultants, investors, contractors, and end users to assess the quality of products and services they receive and support from the design to process and long after installation.
Is there a view of the research and development processes within the company to ensure the provision of more efficient solutions and the most important mechanisms for this?
At Systemair, we go beyond creating products for the sake of it. Our solutions and components are carefully designed to be sustainable, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly while maintaining ease of installation and maintenance. Driven by legal requirements, customer demands, employee ideas, and the latest academic research, our 250 engineers across 23 development groups in 18 countries are dedicated to a singular goal: providing superior air quality with minimal energy use and environmental impact.
We invest extensively in ongoing Research and Development. Through collaborations with esteemed higher education institutions, we stay at the forefront of emerging trends, promptly integrating new methods and technologies into our operations. Our 10 Technical Centers across Sweden, Germany, India, Slovakia, Italy, France, Canada, and the US play a vital role in testing and analysing all our products and components, adhering to the highest industry standards for ventilation. These technology centres also monitor technological advancements in their respective fields.
For instance, our AMCA-accredited lab and development centre in Skinnskatteberg, Sweden, is renowned as one of Europe's most advanced facilities for evaluating airflow, sound levels, pressure, and energy consumption. The presence of our technical centres enables us to continuously enhance our performance by conducting rigorous testing, staying informed about technological advancements, and ensuring our products meet the evolving demands of the ventilation industry.
Climate change has become a global concern. How do you view this dilemma? What about environmental rating systems in the ventilation industry?
Our commitment to sustainability encompasses three dimensions: environmental, social, and governance (ESG). We drive innovation within our industry by upholding these rigorous standards and contributing to global sustainability advancements. Our sustainability focus areas include responsible enterprise, sustainable workplace, sustainable operations, and sustainable products. Furthermore, we align our activities with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), actively working towards creating a better world for all.
At Systemair, we firmly believe that growth and sustainability go hand in hand. As a global company, we take responsibility and act to contribute to a more sustainable planet. Proudly delivering results, the modular equipment sold by Systemair in a single year enables impressive environmental savings, including lower energy consumption of 1.9 TWh, equivalent to the amount of domestic electricity used in 500,000 single-family homes and savings of 500,000 tons of CO₂ emissions, comparable to the carbon dioxide emissions from 280,000 cars per year.
Organising or participating in conferences, events, and seminars is particularly important in introducing the most prominent solutions and developments in the field. What are the most prominent events organised by Systemair or recently participated in? How do you see its benefit?
We actively participate in leading conferences, exhibitions worldwide, and numerous bespoke technical workshops and events. These events allow our local experts to connect with our customers and showcase the latest state-of-the-art ventilation solutions today. Over the past few years, we have also participated actively in the HVAC R Expo Saudi hosted alongside Big 5 Construct Saudi.
In addition to our involvement with the largest dedicated conference in Saudi Arabia, Systemair hosted the Eurovent Middle East Experts Meet & Greet event earlier this year. The event was attended by local government entities and discussed the state of the HVAC sector, the importance of proper selection and specification of Air Filters, the benefits of AHU certification for hot and humid climates and hygienic AHUs, among other critical topics relating to requirements for hospitals and operating theatres. We also maintain a strong presence in the leading events in the region. Systemair Group proudly served as the official sponsor of the Swedish pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE, where we exhibited cutting-edge HVAC solutions that prioritise healthy indoor air quality and energy efficiency.
What about the most important major projects that the company has undertaken and implemented? Shall we talk about them?
As a global company, we are proud to have been part of many milestone projects worldwide. Within the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular, we remain the trusted partner for many critical developments across the Kingdom. Examples include our work at Diriyah, the heart of Saudi Arabia’s historical district, where we supplied the ventilation products for the four-storey underground car park. We supported the design and oversaw manufacturing and handover within 14 months, which included a 12-week timeline for the manufacturing and delivery of fire-rated axial fans and jet fans.
We also worked at AMAALA International Airport in the Tabuk region. The main requirement involved providing guidance for an optimised air conditioning and ventilation system, and we offered a direct expansion air handling unit with an air-cooled condensing unit and exhaust fans. Together, we worked with the team from the initial design phase by providing multiple solutions considering challenges at the remote project location and finalising the optimised solution to ensure smooth and successful project execution. We were also deeply involved in NEOM Hospital, supplying ventilation fans and smoke extract fans to meet their 6-month construction period while maintaining the highest standards and compliance required for a critical healthcare project.
For these projects, we successfully supplied high-efficiency products with energy-saving features that allowed both AMAALA International Airport and NEOM Hospital to achieve the necessary certifications. These are only a few of hundreds of outstanding projects in the country we are part of, and we treat every project with the same level of commitment and dedication. Through our solutions, we are proud to support the burgeoning construction industry within the Kingdom for the years to come.
How do you help the customer to reach you and introduce your products? How do you measure his satisfaction? What was the service provided, and are any subsequent services offered to him?
We have multiple channels through which customers can reach us and learn about our products. Our state-of-the-art website serves as a comprehensive platform where customers can explore our range of solutions-providing detailed information about our products, specifications, and applications, enabling customers to make informed decisions.
Additionally, we have a dedicated sales team readily available to assist customers with their inquiries. To measure customer satisfaction, we seek customer feedback after the completion of projects or the delivery of products. We take this feedback seriously and use it to improve our products and services continuously. Our commitment to customer satisfaction extends beyond the initial purchase. We provide ongoing support and assistance to our customers throughout the entire lifecycle of our products.
As investors in the Saudi market… How do you view the Kingdom as the Middle East's largest and most important market? And how do you view the Kingdom's Vision 2030 to shift away from dependence on oil? And diversify the economy?
Systemair views the Kingdom as the largest and most important market in the Middle East, and we have also moved our regional headquarter to Riyadh and are continuously expanding it, creating dozens of new jobs across the country. We recognise the significant impact of Vision 2030, which aims to shift away from dependence on oil and diversify the economy. This vision has created tremendous growth opportunities, particularly in the construction sector.
The Kingdom's Vision 2030 has led to tremendous prosperity and significant growth in the construction sector. How do you see the impact of the positive vision of Vision 2030 on the sector as a whole in general and on the level of your company, its business and demand, particularly growing on your services?
The positive impact of Vision 2030 on the construction sector is substantial. The increased focus on infrastructure development and urbanisation has led to a surge in demand for our products and services. Systemair has experienced a growing business and increased demand for our solutions in line with the expanding construction activities driven by Vision 2030.
The construction sector represents a major engine of the economy and a fundamental pillar for the growth and prosperity of the Kingdom. Do you see it? In Systemair, is it technically adequately serviced? And what are the effects of that, from your point of view, on the movement? The market and its working mechanism?
Systemair is dedicated to adequately servicing the construction sector in the Kingdom. We ensure that our technical expertise and product offerings align with the market's evolving needs. Our goal is to provide high-quality ventilation, cooling, and heating solutions that contribute to the growth and success of the construction sector in Saudi Arabia.
Through the company's leadership and the presence of a regional headquarters in the Kingdom. How does the company look at two areas of training? And employing Saudi youth who want to learn and gain experience. And what methodology are you based on her in training and employment?
As a company with a regional headquarters in the Kingdom, Systemair is committed to training and employing Saudi youth eager to learn and gain experience. We actively seek opportunities to engage and develop local talent. Our approach to training and employment is based on providing comprehensive programs that combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience. We strive to empower Saudi youth with the skills and expertise needed to contribute to the growth and sustainability of the construction sector and the overall economy.
What are the organisations that approve your products? What are the most prominent awards and honours won by the company?
Our commitment to excellence applies to not just our services but everything we do. As a result, our products and facilities are certified by leading independent third-party ventilation and air quality organisations. Everything we do at Systemair fully complies with current and ready-for-future standards and regulations. At the same time, we are helping shape the future of HVAC legislation, codes, and standards in global markets through our partnerships with key associations and research bodies.
Today, we play an active role through leadership positions in 50+ associations and research organisations worldwide. All to help advance HVAC industry regulations and to push for further developments in environmentally and energy-conscious production, manufacturing, and performance. Systemair is, for example, proudly associated with Eurovent Certified Performance, the global benchmark in third-party HVAC product certification as well as Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA) International, a trade body that sets standards for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning equipment.
We are also founding members of Eurovent Middle East, which is the region's only industry association representing leading manufacturers of Indoor Climate (HVAC), Process Cooling, Food Cold Chain, Industrial Ventilation, and Building Automation Technologies, as well as sector associations and industry initiatives active in these fields. Eurovent Middle East collaboration with its members focuses on core industry issues, including IAQ, energy efficiency, maintenance and durability, refrigerants, market surveillance and technical and regulatory affairs.