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Pebsteel’s 30-year journey of building greatness

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Pebsteel is not a giant company in terms of investment capital, but its name is on the lip of most constructors, when it comes to pre-engineered buildings and steel structures. It is the right vision and constant innovations to satisfy customers that underline the company’s success, say top leaders of Pebsteel.
Sami Kteily, Executive Chairman of Pebsteel

“I expected a construction boom in warehouses and factories in Vietnam,” recalled Sami Kteily, Executive Chairman of Pebsteel, when he decided to set up Pebsteel Vietnam in late 1994, alongside Adib Kouteili, co-founder and now serving as director of Pebsteel.

Since its establishment 30 years ago, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, with its footprint seen across the country as well as the Southeast Asian region and elsewhere.

Just imagine in its 30-year history, Pebsteel has completed more than 6,000 buildings across Vietnam and in dozens of other countries, which averages out at roughly four buildings installed each week.

That is not to say the manufacturing and installation work for each project is that quick, because many projects take months. The contract to build VinFast automobile factory, for example, prompted Pebsteel’s factories to run at full throttle, two shifts a day, for five months on end, to manufacture the steel structures.

Comprehensive vision

As an entrepreneur with a strong sense for business, Executive Chairman Sami Kteily found the opportunity and grasped it.

“When I first visited Vietnam in July 1994, I found out that many corporations lacked the ready funds for capital expenditure goods (capex) like pre-engineered steel buildings. With my background and experience with trade finance, and more specifically forfaiting, I was able to offer such customers a deferred payment facility of two years via local banks. […]. This was our competitive advantage at the time. No one was doing it. Vietnam was unknown in the finance world!” Sami Kteily recalled how opportunities emerged and how he took them.

Sami Kteily first set up business in Vietnam in 1994, following the lifting of the US embargo in 1993. At that time, he anticipated a construction boom in warehouses and factories in the subsequent years to double down on the construction industry.

“As an agriculture-based economy, Vietnam needed warehouses – near HCMC ports – to store the produce of the Mekong Delta for future transport inside Vietnam or for export to neighboring countries. Also, some Vietnamese entrepreneurs wanted to build “ready-built” factories and warehouses to rent to foreign investors who started coming to Vietnam as early as 1992,” he reasoned.

In the first few years, Pebsteel focused on offering forfaiting facilities to Vietnamese companies wanting to set up pre-engineered steel buildings, and in 2004, the company started work on the first factory in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province which started producing Pebsteel products one year later. To date, Pebsteel has set up six factories for pre-engineered steel buildings in Ba Ria-Vung Tau and one factory in Yangon, Myanmar.

Adib Kouteili, co-founder and director of Pebsteel, asserted the importance of a right vision in the company’s business success. “At Pebsteel, we believe that the key drivers behind our success are a combination of factors, including the right investment at the right time,” he stressed.

Constant innovations

A comprehensive vision aside, Pebsteel has won the heart and mind of customers by constantly innovating its products and services to satisfy stringent requirements.

Executive Chairman Sami Kteily stressed the importance of innovations, saying how the company regularly offers customers with adjacencies to stay ahead of the market’s ever-elevating demands.

“Companies get old and unless they innovate and introduce adjacencies they will rust and become obsolete. We were among the first to introduce roofing with concealed fasteners to stop roof leakage due to heavy rains in Vietnam. We introduced Superdyma Silver 180 for heavy corrosion industries. We introduced PebFoam as an environmentally friendly insulation materials. We have introduced PebHybrid frame from galvanized materials,” he gave a few examples on Pebsteel’s product innovations.

Adib Kouteili, co-founder and director of Pebsteel

Co-Founder and Director of Pebsteel Adib Kouteili seconded the point, saying “We have always been committed to investing in the latest technologies and equipment to ensure that we can provide our clients with the best possible solutions.”

As the business landscape is changing, with sustainable development and green growth poised to become the overriding trend, Pebsteel has also been making prompt responses.

“Pebsteel is adapting to the shift towards sustainability by incorporating more environmentally friendly materials and practices into our construction projects. We always aim for sustainable development, we use strictly tested environmentally friendly materials and apply the latest system of design standards to minimize the waste of resources,” he added.

By expending resources on innovations, Pebsteel has invested in the research and development of solutions for structural steel projects of higher sophistication besides industrial factories and warehouses.

Typical projects include the 14-story office building in the Philippines, and the recently completed three-tower 19-story residential and commercial buildings in the heart of Metro Manila, standing at 58 meters high, according to Adib Kouteili.

“This has opened the opportunity for Pebsteel to extend our capabilities beyond low-rise buildings and set the standard for future projects,” he said.

According to Adib Kouteili, in order to remain competitive and meet the demands of clients who prioritize sustainability, Pebsteel is actively adjusting its business strategy to align with this trend by introducing more innovations, including making foray into the solar energy segment.

“Pebsteel opened a new division at the beginning of 2023, named PebSol, to focus on enhancing our capabilities in the solar energy sector. Pebsteel is positioning itself as a leader in the industry and attracting clients who value sustainable development,” said Kouteili.

“Of course, adapting to the shift towards sustainability requires more than just changes to construction materials and practices. It also requires a shift in mindset and a commitment to continuous improvement,” he explained, adding “I believe that our commitment to sustainability and responsible business practices have helped us to build a strong reputation in the industry and attract new clients.”

Executive Chairman Sami Kteily also stressed the importance of maintaining good relations with customers, ready to come to their assistance whenever needed. “Once a project is launched, our relationship with the customers becomes permanent. Once the building is completed, we provide indefinite maintenance and customer service,” he said.

A right vision, constant innovations, and full-fledged commitment to quality and customer service have paid off.

Executive Chairman Kteily could not conceal his pride when mentioning the success Pebsteel has scored in doing business in Vietnam.

“To be honest, Vietnam was very kind to us and brought us a lot of luck! We have a record of 30 years of profitable operations and 30 years of dividend payout, which is something unusual in the construction industry,” he said when asked about the company’s operations here in Vietnam.

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