Armed with an engineering and MBA degree in Instrumentation and Control Engineering, Mr. Richard moved to the Gulf in the year 2000 with dreamy eyes and a dream to change the world. He started his career in 2000 in Muscat and then came to UAE in 2003. He dabbled in a lot of roles until he realised that sales is where his passion and calling lay. He then stuck to the sales sector and worked in different organisations until 2012 when he joined Garlock, a leading sealing products manufacturer headquartered in the United States.
The position at Garlock proved to be a turning point in Mr. Richard’s career, as it is here that he was exposed to a global work culture and explored various leadership programs. He got many reality checks about his professional journey and got attuned to his career goals – where he lies and what he wants to achieve.
TRANSITIONING FROM AN EMPLOYEE TO AN EMPLOYER
He worked through the ranks at Garlock, started as a Sales Manager and went on to become General Manager for Middle-East and Africa. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Garlock decided to close down the physical offices in the Middle East. This proved to be the biggest pivot in Mr. Richard’s career. This is when he decided to start his own company and Erith was born. He offered Garlock to run their Middle East business under Erith and the rest as they say is history.
Interestingly, Garlock had offered him a position in the US, but he turned it down because he did not want to abandon his team in the UAE. He chose to stay back and start from scratch and help whomever he can. This perfectly describes his character and commitment to his people.
He followed his passion and built a company when most of the companies were either downsizing their scale of operations or shutting down. Established in August 2020, with just nine employees, Erith Group grew in no time. The advantage of starting under extreme circumstances is that the worst was already over. When Mr. Richard and his team overcame the pandemic, it made the company recession-proof, sustainable and a responsible business. Since its inception, the Group has been forthcoming in hiring the right individuals and now has over 30 professionals.
Mr. Richard recently opened an office in Chennai, India – the Group’s first overseas office and that reflects a strong growth trajectory. This new office is the company’s fifth office apart from three regional offices and its headquarters in the UAE.
A PEOPLE’S PERSON ALL THE WAY
When Garlock shut down its Middle East operations, Mr. Richard was acutely aware of its effect on the people who worked there. The loss of livelihoods and stranded families was a disheartening thought and that is the reason Mr. Richard offered to take over their operations – to support the employees.
It was at that time that he decided to help whomever he can by taking them on board at Erith Group. His belief was clear – to work together in a transparent manner for a common goal. He is a believer in teamwork and clear communication and that is what is followed at the Erith Group. “If we tell the team the ‘why’ and ‘what’ we want to achieve, the qualified professionals will work to figure out the ‘how’, the right team will do it better than I can,” he says.
Mr. Richard values clarity of thought more than anything else. As a leader, he leads his team by communicating his vision clearly time and again. The ambitious and inspring leader leads by example and shows the team that the ultimate vision of the organisation is what guides him.
PRIORITISE AND MOVE FORWARD
The Erith Group is now a leading supplier of high-quality, high-end sealing products and solutions to the key players in energy, power, chemicals, nuclear, metal, mining and other vital sectors. There are three business units – manufacturing, industrial engineering and healthcare segment. Mr. Richard believes, it has only been possible by believing in himself and his team
Another vital piece in the puzzle was to be aware of the overall strategy of the country they were operating out of. For instance, in the UAE, local manufacturing is given priority and companies that contribute to the GDP by exporting more and importing less are valued – these factors were crucial when Mr. Richard was formulating his company’s overall vision and goals. Prioritising the country’s strategy and aligning his goals with that has really been instrumental in achieving whatever he has done so far.
Another important factor that has contributed to his success has been keeping a customer-centric approach. Not only did he successfully turn over the business from Garlock, but also made sure that none of the customers felt any disruption during the transition. He always ensures that the customers feel valued and feel a sense of growth when they are attached to Erith. “Be closer to your customer and always hear what they are saying and you will achieve great results,” he says.
HERE’S TO THE FUTURE
The transition from an employee to an entrepreneur was the greatest gift for Mr. Richard. “It was the high point of my career,” he shares. He believed in himself and the people who went along with him and together moved on to create something great.
Only a couple of years into the business, the journey for Mr. Richard and Erith Group has just begun. It is his dream to make it into a name that is one of the most trusted advisors in the industry.
From being a product supply company, Mr. Richard wants the Group to become a manufacturer of all high-quality products. He has already started this transition and has brought in the best available cutting edge machinery. He started his own manufacturing plant in October 2022.
In the near future, Mr. Richard wants to make Erith a 360-degree firm that gives customers an end-to-end experience. He started by providing high-quality products, added manufacturing and now plans to add servicing as per the customers’ requirements. This will attain his second goal – to become a group advisor for the customers’. At the end of the day, Mr. Richard is a humble man who finds inspiration in the simplest of things. He counts his wife as his biggest support system for standing by him in all circumstances. He draws inspiration from his parents who always instilled the right values in him and feels indebted to Mr. Mike Faulkner from Garlock who acted as a guide and mentor to him during his time at the company.
It is the trait of a true leader who values people, be it his family, employees, or customers. A true leader knows that it’s the people who make or break any enterprise.
Mr. Richard’s story is one of inspiration, passion and determination, but one aspect that stands out in his entrepreneurial journey is his cause. He started the journey to support others in need and as they say, what goes around always comes around.