Meet our member: Basel Yousef
by Tribes Inspiring Workplaces, on 9 Aug 2019
"It is our ambition to become the best in the world". Those are the words of Basel Yousef, CEO of Dredgeyard. He will tell us all about environmentally friendly digging under water - simply said. At Tribes Rotterdam Central we sit down at the incredibly long table in the beautiful, bright room. While Basel provides coffee, we are already being inspired by the Huli tribe, and admire the warm colours and modern look of this Tribes location.
Dredgeyard: Who, what, where?
We ask this ambitious member about Dredgeyard's business and he explains it to us. 'What we do is simply said, digging under water, or under water excavating. That is our specialty. We focus on the development and improvement of digging instruments, in efficiency and environmental friendliness. We provide instruments that do not affect living conditions under water, and our ambition is to become the best in the world. In 2011 my partner and I started our company in Dubai, and in 2016 we moved to the Netherlands. Our engineering office is still located in Dubai, and our production is done in Turkey. In the Netherlands we started in Sliedrecht because we thought there was the dredging industry and big business was waiting for us. But eventually Rotterdam turned out to be the perfect place for us.’
Business Nomad Basel
We ask Basel about the journey he made to get here. 'So it all started in Dubai. There I worked as general manager of the middle east branch for a Dutch company. At the time I was looking for more challenge, my employer couldn't offer me that. A little later, in 2011, I started our own company with my partner. We had a very good time there in Dubai with a lot of progress due to many construction projects related to tourism and real estate. But after a few years, we still noticed that we had to go to the Netherlands: here live many highly educated people, there are many universities and technological companies that we can use. And that's how we ended up here. First in Sliedrecht and then in Rotterdam, where I myself have lived for eighteen months now. Before that, I lived in Dubai for 9 years, and in China for 3 years; in Shanghai. And before that time in Haarlem'. Wow, a real business nomad. We ask him if he still leaves Rotterdam sometimes. 'Yes, we can certainly be found abroad a lot. Most projects are in the Middle East and Asia, but also in Africa'.
Three Goals for Dredging
Dredgeyard makes instruments that dig under water in an environmentally friendly way. We are curious about what they are approached for by prospects. Basel explains: 'There are three digging goals. The first is to remove things you don't want to have in water. Like phosphate, slip and heavy metals. The second is keeping areas such as harbours and rivers at depth, which we call maintenance dredging. The third is creating land or ports, which we call capital dredging'. We ask if Basel can tell us a little more about one of their projects, and he starts to tell us. 'For example, we now have a nice project running in Dubai. Which is for a real estate developer. They are going to develop resorts on a group of islands. They want to maintain the islands for that purpose, but also make adjustments to those islands. We call that reshaping. Connections must be made and a few islands must be given a different shape. For that project we developed and delivered a dredger.
Development, Training, Maintenance
What distinguishes Dredgeyard is the development of environmentally friendly instruments. They are well on their way to becoming the best in the world, and they can be proud of that. But besides that very important aspect, there is something else that distinguishes them. Basel starts to tell us: 'We are extremely flexible and fast. Innovation to market, as I call it, and we are good at it. We have a standard engineering project, but always adapt it to the wishes of the customer. After all, every project requires a different solution. In addition, we always aim for a fast delivery time. And what we always deliver with it is operational training and on-site maintenance training. We think it is important to always keep in close contact after delivery, and we always keep a project for at least a year. We have a colleague from the Netherlands who regularly checks whether everything is going well on location'.
Out on Challenge
What we now want to focus more on, besides the production of our instruments, is development and marketing. Because production can be done by a thousand and one companies, worldwide. And when we can do that locally, it is also much more efficient. In countries like Argentina and Brazil, for example, importing is very difficult and expensive. You have to see it like this: "You shouldn't work to work, but work to make profit". So doing the production yourself, that's not the challenge for us'. And after those fine words, an ambitious look appears in the eyes of Basel, after which he enthusiastically begins to tell us: 'What we do see as a challenge is taking existing instruments to a higher level: making them environmentally friendly, making them cheaper to produce and making them easy to use. But what you have developed and what is produced does not automatically enter the market. You have to tell the world what you do, and why you do it. Here in Rotterdam, we're now working half the time on the development of instruments, and the other half on marketing. I also went into it myself, and find it very interesting. Marketing is serious business!
Dredgeyard & Tribes
Dredgeyard is happy with their existence in the city of Rotterdam. We ask Basel if they are also happy with their existence within these walls, on which he begins to nod, telling us why this is so: 'The fact that everything is taken care of for you here, we experience as very relaxed. You have an all-in-one package here. We don't have to worry about anything. It's made so easy for us that we really have time for our own passion and business. And in addition to that, we can also use all the beautiful features such as the fine meeting rooms. Not to mention the always good service by the ladies of the reception, very convenient!'