Zahid marks 60 years with Caterpillar

Surrounded by enormous gleaming yellow graders, wheel loaders and bulldozers, members and guests of the Zahid Group celebrated its 60 years as Caterpillar’s partner and distributor in Saudi Arabia.

Customers, Zahid managers and staff together with senior representatives from Caterpillar marked one of the most fortuitous chance meetings in Saudi business history that saw the beginning of a long association that quite literally has moved mountains and played a large part in changing the landscape of the Kingdom.

Vice president of the Construction Machinery Division Mohammed Zahid said that the support of customers and the shared values of Caterpillar and the Zahid family were at the core of the partnership’s existence.

“Respect, trust pride and excellence are the guiding principles that have always influenced the conduct and decisions of all Zahid group members,” he said in his welcoming remarks.

He looked forward to the next 60 years hoping that the partnership would continue to contribute to the Kingdom’s burgeoning economic growth.

The original meeting in 1950 between the Zahid family and a Caterpillar representative took place quite by chance on the airport road outside Jeddah. The rest is, as they say, is history.

Since then Zahid has represented Caterpillar Inc. in Saudi Arabia, supplying machinery and equipment to virtually all of the Kingdom’s public and private sector enterprises. Business growth resulted in Zahid Tractor & Heavy Machinery Co. Ltd. being incorporated in 1967 and today, Zahid Tractor’s Construction Machinery Division (CMD) manages one of the world’s biggest Caterpillar dealerships.

Amr Khashoggi, the Group’s vice president for corporate affairs, said that Saudi Arabia had benefited from the farsightedness of King Abdulaziz and his children in transforming the Kingdom into what is now.

He said that the society’s foundations were now in place and that the task now was to build on them. It is, as he said, a very exciting time to be living in the Kingdom.

“We have a larger and young population and we need to look after them by creating jobs and a decent life for them. So we look at the next 60 years as a period of high growth, and great promise and hope.”

The Zahid group has programs for training young Saudis through in-house apprenticeship schemes, both mechanical and technical, close cooperation with the Technical and Vocational Training Council and with the National Human Resources Fund.

Some of this is centered on Zahid’s state-of-the-art training center in Jeddah which includes simulators for training operators.

“The trainees also go out to junkyards, obtain old Caterpillar machines and engines and completely rebuild them,” he said. Profit from the sales of refurbished machinery goes back to the trainees and into financing the training program.

“We plot career-paths for every employee including women and people with special needs,” he said. “We encourage them to grow vertically and horizontally across the fourteen companies we have within the Zahid group.”

He stressed that the two companies and the Zahid family worked closely together because they shared same core values of transparency, loyalty, integrity, commitment to excellence and hard work.

Established more than 80 years ago and with 2008 sales and revenues of $51.3 billion, Caterpillar Inc. is the world’s leading  manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines and industrial gas turbines.