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Monday 14 October 2019
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Qualitech – a Caribbean leader

Machine shop grows into major equipment services firm

Deepak Lall, director of Qualitech Machining Services Ltd. What started as a small machine shop with three employees is now one of the region's leading engineering companies. Photo by Marvin Hamilton
Deepak Lall, director of Qualitech Machining Services Ltd. What started as a small machine shop with three employees is now one of the region's leading engineering companies. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

It started off as a small machine shop with three workers with working capital coming from his mortgaged home.

Now, 24 years later, Qualitech Machining Services Ltd is one of the region’s leading engineering companies, having recently been awarded international accreditation from Electrical Apparatus Services Association (EASA) – a trade organisation based in the US with over 1,800 electromechanical sales and service firms in nearly 80 countries. EASA provides members with a means of keeping up-to-date on materials, equipment, and state-of-the-art technology. There are only 132 EASA accredited workshops worldwide with just 19 being outside of the US.

Qualitech is the largest EASA accredited workshop in the Caribbean and Latin America. The company has also had International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) ratings for the past 17 years.

The company specialises in the manufacture, repair, servicing and support of equipment for all industrial sectors including – but not limited to – the petrochemical, manufacturing, marine, food and beverage, quarrying, agriculture, oil exploration and construction industries.

This is a testimony to how much the company has grown since it started as a machine shop in 1995, manufacturing small parts and then expanding into areas such as welding and fabrication, balancing, metal spraying, overhauling of industrial equipment and motors.

Deepak Lall, director of Qualitech Machining Services Ltd at his office in Point Lisas. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

“Because of our customer service excellence and response time especially in emergency circumstances, customers kept challenging us to expand our business into other areas,” director Deepak N Lall, 32, shared with Business Day in an interview at the company's headquarters in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.

Qualitech has transformed into an equipment asset management company, he said, which supplies equipment to the industrial sector and provides onsite labour and maintenance on commercial equipment including industrial pumps, turbines and engines.

“What this means is that you have a lot of manufacturers, petrochemical, oil and gas customers, and they don’t want the headache of dealing with five and six people – talking to one person to supply equipment, talk to a next person to monitor it, talk to a next person to repair it, so we now handle all of that, the full life cycle of equipment, we could handle that.”

Qualitech now employs 110 full-time employees.

Deepak Lall, director of Qualitech Machining Services Ltd, stands next to large salt water petrochemical plant pump outside the business in Point Lisas. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

The family-owned business was founded by his father Deo N Lall who mortgaged the family home and rented a 2,000 sq ft space in the industrial estate.

“He bought a couple used machines from England, hired three guys, so that is how he started. Worst case, we would have to rent, it was a chance he took.

“So he kept working, overtime, kept saving to buy another machine, hire another person and that’s how it went.” Lall said his father – who officially retired in June – still works at the company.

Equipment services is a competitive industry, he said, but Qualitech – although among the youngest – has demonstrated its willingness to invest in technology and expand its reach.

He said this pioneering spirit was responsible for the company expanding its operations soon after TT entered a recessionary period in 2015.

“When we heard there was a recession, that is when we started expanding, we acquired a three-acre property in the estate, in November 2015, and we started planning, and construction began in November 2016 and we took about two years and we competed the first phase in mid-2018.

"We saw the recession as an opportunity because a lot of contractors did not have work, there was a glut of material on the market, like concrete and steel, so we said let us expand our operations that is what started the expansion.”

Qualitech's director Deepak N Lall inspects a large marine gear box. Photo by Marvin Hamilton

He said a 27,000 sq ft building – which would normally take a contractor about three to four months to fabricate the steel, and another six months to install – due to the lack of work, the fabrication took about two weeks and they erected the building in two months.

“So you get market advantage because if you had to do it in the peak period, it would take you between six months to a year to put down that kind of building.”

Qualitech today uses the new property for climate control industrial storage which would enable industrial type material to be stored in a relatively low dry atmosphere. And, still looking for new opportunities, it has pioneered water jet cutting in the Caribbean, cutting up to 10-inch thick solid steel with water.

"Hard work always brings rewards," Lall said of the company's growth. "There is no substitute for hard work."

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