Pioneers set benchmark for Jordanian family-owned businesses

Eye on business

hundreds of HVAC data center units
Petra Engineering Industries Co. installed hundreds of HVAC data center units at the facilities of one of the largest service providers in the US and Canada, located in California, the US, in 2020. (Photo: Handout from Petra Engineering Industries Co.)
AMMAN — Founded in 1987, Petra Engineering Industries Co. is a family-owned business that produces and exports a wide variety of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to various parts of the world, including the US, Switzerland, and other countries. اضافة اعلان

From standard split units to custom HVAC pieces, Petra’s products are engineered entirely by Jordanian experts and professionals, operating out of the company’s three main factories in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The company caters to specialized industries like the oil and gas sector and large data centers amongst others, according to their needs, Board Member Firas Abu Wishah explained to Jordan News.

“That is our niche, as opposed to standardized mass production of HVAC equipment. We engineer solutions customized to meet our clients’ needs,” he added.

The young board member explained that, despite common misconceptions, Petra is a manufacturer, not an assembler.

Today, Petra’s innovative engineering machinery and equipment is being exported to more than 50 countries around the world, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar representing the company’s largest markets, Firas explained.

Diversification of Petra’s value proposition, beyond standardization, has enabled the company to excel and retain its operations despite the economic situation and the pandemic, he emphasized.

Petra is now expanding its industrial facilities in Jordan, which employ around 3,000 people, all of whom are Jordanian, vice chairman of the company’s board of directors and Firas’ father, Omar Abu Wishah, told Jordan News.

“Petra exports 90 percent of its products and has been able to penetrate some of the world’s most competitive markets, including the US,” the senior board member said.

Highlighting the importance of the industrial manufacturing sector, the vice chairman said that Petra brought some $140 million into the Jordanian economy in 2020.

“We exported to NASA, Tesla, Google, Amazon, Hyatt hotel group, Hilton hotel group, Marriot Bonvoy hotel group, W Hotels — including Amman — and the Abdali Boulevard, among many other clients,” the vice chairman added.

Petra is one of the first companies in Jordan to fully utilize the Jordan-USA free trade agreement, exporting around $50 million worth of HVAC machinery and equipment, a value likely to grow this year, Firas said.

The company’s success has even drawn the second generation of the family to join the legacy business, with cousins and relatives working together to see the success of Petra.

Petra Engineering Industries Co. was founded by Osama Ali, the chairman, whose son Omar Ali is today also a member of the board, along with the vice chairman’s son, Firas, Omar Abu Wishah, and Dalia Ali.

The two families, bound by marriage, came together to establish one of the most successful family businesses in Jordan and the region, Firas stated to Jordan News.

“I was raised at the old factory in Mwaqqar, just like my cousins, including Dalia, who also worked at the company when she graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a marketing executive, and is now a board member, with an amazing career in arts outside of the family business,” he added.

The second generation of Petra executives and partners also shared in the visions of their fathers, according to Firas, and have worked for years to sustain that vision.

The company’s success throughout the years sets a benchmark for all Jordanian industrialists, family businesses, and exporters, with their innovation, far-sightedness, and capacity for customization, which helps target high added-value niche markets, he said.

The latest of Petra’s projects in 2020 and 2021 include setting up HVAC systems for a large data center in Zurich, Switzerland, Firas revealed.

After the factory expansions that are currently underway, Petra is planning to expand in new markets in Asia, South America, and Europe. In the next 10 years, they hope to be one of the top five leaders and forerunners of the air-conditioning industry in the world, Vice Chairman Abu Wishah said.

“We exist on all five continents but we are not in every country yet,” Firas told Jordan News.

Petra’s plans for the next 10 years are to establish a presence in every country in the world, by the end of 2031, “and we will,” the vice chairman concluded.