Now two years in the role as chief executive of the Middle East’s largest independent MRO, Joramco’s Fraser Currie gives his insights.
In October 2021, I was appointed by Jeff Wilkinson as the chief executive of Joramco. Jeff now leads the group in his role as group chief executive at DAE Engineering based out at Dubai. The consistency of our executive management team is a key factor to our incredible success story.
The change at Joramco started in 2017 when a strategic roadmap was created. This roadmap remains our scorecard by which we measure success: people, internal process, customers and financial.
We have brought to life our vision and mission statements and have a proven track record of delivering against them. Our sustainable behaviours underpin how we behave and how we collectively and individually take accountability for our actions. In this article you will gain a few insights into how we have led change; however, for those interested in leading change in their own companies, I highly recommend Kotter’s 8-step framework for leading change.
It is not a cliché that ‘people are our greatest strength’. Joramco has a workforce of approximately 1,100 people, with the majority being technical staff in our operations departments. Our people focus has many elements ranging from how we attract talented people and how we engage and retain them to the entry point of training new graduates and ensuring our staff remain current on aircraft types.
Engaging people throughout the company is key; you may have a great vision but, if you can’t communicate it well, the impact will be minimal.
Our engagement includes face-to-face conversations, ‘Gemba Walks’, weekly newsletters, daily communication screen updates, a quarterly magazine, bi-annual staff road-shows, social events, bonding events, the list goes on – because it is key to our success.
The workforce journey, certainly for our technical staff, starts with our Training Academy which is the lifeblood of the organisation. However, we not only train for our own needs but we offer training to third parties who also benefit from our Part 147 programmes and our practical on-the-job training (OJT).
As the industry reports shortages of engineers, it’s important that every organisation does enough to support training initiatives. We are fortunate that our Academy is attached to our hangars, so the students can gain firsthand practical training and get a feel for a live environment.
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Risks and challenges
Understanding your risks and challenges presents opportunity to develop solutions and grow your business based on continuous improvements (CI). Joramco embarked on a transformation journey back in 2017 which remains live today in the form of CI.
As part of this business continuity process, we identify both near-term risks and long-term perceived risks and categorise their potential impact.
One of the main risks being faced by our industry is the challenge of attracting new talent, and Joramco manages this as a standalone strategic project, the key pillars of which are: increasing our academy intake; offering scholarships; long-term (over the horizon) recruitment; people engagement; and offering highly rewarding and stable employment.
Something we hear a lot from our customers is that Joramco exceeds their expectations when it comes to ‘flexibility’. This is a powerful tool yet, if managed incorrectly, it can add degrees of complexity and have serious impacts on both workflow and ultimately adherence to TATs, which in turn could disrupt aircraft lines.
Timely and accurate communication is the key to success in this area and I’m pleased to report that flexibility is vital in customers returning to Joramco.
Joramco has excellent customers who provide us with nose-to-tail lines of maintenance, some seasonally and some throughout the year, allowing us to increase efficiency and deliver consistency. Long-term contracts are a feature of the industry now, with customers signing up for five-year contracts. Customers are locking in capacity to protect their business and mitigate against the global shortage in capacity.
The airframe MRO business is notoriously hard to work, especially when it comes to return on investment and meeting shareholder expectations, yet Joramco is breaking records year after year.
What’s the secret of our success? It’s simple: we have a laser focus on managing the details; we invest smart as well as hiring and retaining great people.
Undoubtedly the rising demand for maintenance is having a positive effect across the MRO market and a shortage of global MRO capacity is ensuring that MROs such as Joramco are full.
Being able to plan around long-term contracts gives us the ability to be more predictable on our revenue streams and our profitability. In the six months to June, revenue increased by 26 per cent on the prior-year period to $69.1 million.
This year we have invested in a new hangar at our main base in Amman, Jordan. The hangar will be the largest of our six hangars with the capacity to accommodate a widebody aircraft up to A380/B777 in parallel with four narrowbody aircraft.
The hangar is scheduled to come online by the end of H1 2024 which will align with our new B737 – 800 BCF (Boeing Converted Freighter) business. The deal with Boeing makes Joramco the first MRO supplier in the Middle East to support future Boeing conversions of both domestic and foreign aircraft.
This feature was first published in MRO Management – October 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.