Hoehler+Partner has rebranded itself as Hoehler+AlSalmy. Ernst Hoehler, Partner and Representative, and Muhammad Al Salmy, Managing Director and Lead Partner share the reasons for the change. An OER interview
The name of the company is being changed from Hoehler+Partner to Hoehler+AlSalmy Architects and Engineers. What has necessitated
Hoehler: We are German architects with branches in different cities of Germany with about 180 employees. We also have branches in Oman and Algeria. We started operations in the Sultanate in 2009, with an order to do the design of GUtech or the German University of Technology in Muscat. Then we knew nothing about the local rules, so we found our friend Muhammad Al Salmy and started with a small company; and since then it has grown in size. The Oman branch has 35 employees, and there is a sub company with 25 people. We built another University in Buraimi and now we have a number of commercial and tourism projects. We are changing the name because of the importance of our partner in Oman.
Are there going to be any changes from an ownership perspective?
Muhammad: There is no change in the ownership structure. Moreover, the name change is only applicable to the Oman branch and if we win business in the GCC and around the region.From a marketing and branding standpoint, multiple identities can be confusing and expensive to promote. How would you react to this?
Hoehler: It is important that our partner in Oman is given the same importance as us, as we are operating here and we need the expertise of the Omani people. We are happy to have Muhammad as our partner and this is what is being reflected in the new name.
Muhammad: Earlier, wherever we went we were seen as a global company, with no local element. We hope that the name change would change that perception. I know people may question the rationale of doing a name change after seven years, but we discussed it internally to see the pros and cons. Secondly, we shared the idea with some of our clients and it was received positively. That gave us the confidence to go ahead. While the name has changed, our branding will remain the same.
What is your differentiation in the market?
Muhammad: We have always been strong in the market because we have primarily been working with clients in the corporate sector, while a number of other architects and designers have been working largely with the government. Given the current economic situation due to low oil prices, the government is cutting down on its expenditure, but we are largely insulated against this because of our diversified client base. As a company, we have always been selective in choosing projects, as we want to bring in special designs and architecture to Oman. We have also brought in new technical standards to the market.
Hoehler: Just to add, we also build fast without any complications. For example, GUtech was built in 16 months. This is an advantage for us in the market.