Engineering Post discussing brilliant ideas with Engr. Tahir Sultan, CEO. Firm DECON International
In the annals of Pakistan’s engineering landscape, Firm DECON International (Pvt) Ltd stands tall as a beacon of innovation and excellence. Established in 1992 by the visionary Mr. Tahir Sultan, Firm DECON embarked on a journey that would not only redefine geotechnical engineering but also reshape the energy landscape of Pakistan. The journey began with a laser-sharp focus on soil investigation, a fundamental pillar of any construction venture. Tahir Sultan’s foresight was evident from the outset; he recognized that precision in soil analysis was the bedrock of successful engineering projects. This commitment to accuracy became the cornerstone of Firm DECON’s operations.
During a recent exclusive conversation with Engineering Post he explained that while soil investigation was the starting point, Firm DECON’s trajectory was marked by a relentless pursuit of excellence. Piling and water wells were seamlessly integrated into the company’s repertoire, broadening its scope of influence. The establishment of a state-of-the-art laboratory was a strategic move, positioning Firm DECON as a trailblazer in the private sector. Notably, the lab earned the distinction of being one of only two private sector labs approved by NESPAK and NTDC “Our soil testing lab is ISO certified as well,” he said
In 2002, Firm DECON elevated its aspirations by venturing into design and engineering for substations and transmission lines. Tahir Sultan notes, “Our newly established construction wing working along with our exceptional design team helped us in completing and delivering projects before time.” He said.
DECON’s foray into Nigeria in 2012 marked a significant milestone. This venture was not limited to business; it was a commitment to capacity-building for a local company. The company extended a comprehensive suite of services, including design, training, and project management. Sultan reflects, “Our engagement in Nigeria was a mutual exchange of expertise. It was about empowering local industry players and leaving a legacy of knowledge.”
In 2016, Firm DECON embraced a new frontier with the integration of solar power into its portfolio. This was more than a strategic move; it was a testament to the company’s commitment to sustainable energy solutions. Sultan remarks, “Sustainability is not a buzzword for us; it’s a way of life. We believe in leveraging our expertise for a greener tomorrow.” During the conversation he revealed that his team is negotiating some commercial level Solar projects again which will be revealed in the near future.
“Currently our firm has a geotechnical division which is involved in soil sampling, water wells, pilling etc. Then we have our project management wing which provides project management services. Along with that wing we have a construction division as well. Moreover we are planning to revive one of our dormant divisions which is the renewable energy division. Specifically we will be focusing on solar power projects through that division,” he explained.
The geotechnical division emerged as DECON’s forte, covering soil investigation, testing, water wells, and piling. The company’s ISO certification and NTDC approval further underscore its commitment to uncompromised quality. Sultan points out, “Our geotechnical division is the backbone of our operations. It’s where our legacy of precision and accuracy truly shines.”
Firm DECON’s journey is studded with milestones, including critical land investigations for projects like the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline and the TAPI initiative. These endeavors not only solidified the company’s reputation as an industry leader but also demonstrated its capacity to undertake projects of national and regional importance. “Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline was almost 700Kms while the TAPI project was more than 800Km which we completed very efficiently,” said Mr. Tahir Sultan.
Currently Firm DECON is involved in 765kV transmission line project which is one of a kind in Pakistan. The project starts from Dasu to Mansehra then Islamabad. Complete soil investigation and survey, for the project, is being conducted by Firm DECON. During the conversation he explained that he makes sure that the process of innovation and improvement is continuously going on in the company “We keep upgrading our Lab regularly so that it remains up to date. Currently our lab can not only test soil samples but rock samples as well. Similarly, as the terrain for 765kV transmission line is a mountainous terrain, we have extensively used drones for ensuring a thorough survey,” he explained.
During the exclusive conversation with Engineering Post, Tahir Sultan revealed that although his company has been involved in soil investigation for rivers/canals all over the country, one of the sectors he wants to venture in is marine drilling, “I want to expand our horizons and venture into marine drilling as well, specifically for soil investigation. Our journey has been remarkable, but let me assure you our best is yet to come,” he added.
When asked about some of the steps that the government needs to take to increase ease of doing business in Pakistan, Tahir Sultan shared some interesting insights. “First of all the government needs to work on tax reforms and adopt such policies that more people are inclined to join the tax net. FBR should present a friendly face for some years so people can trust it and become a part of tax net,” If tax revenue is increased only then the country can control inflation. “Secondly, the process of tendering needs to become more transparent. Currently the process is flawed and rigged against small players. When public sector companies start competing with private entities on the same tenders it becomes very difficult to survive. Moreover there are multiple complaints that the process is not kept confidential and bids are leaked, which can be very damaging for companies,” he said.
Another very important idea floated by him was the establishment of a Construction Bank of Pakistan. “This bank should provide bank guarantees to construction companies of Pakistan, who qualify a certain criteria, on easy terms and conditions, both for domestic and international projects. This will give impetus to Pak construction companies in their effort to secure overseas business and generate revenue through exports,” he said.
Some important observations, related to manufacturing industry, were raised by Tahir Sultan CEO Firm DECON during the conversation as well. “If the Govt wants to boost “Made in Pakistan” products, then it should focus on ensuring that the cost of manufacturing comes down, so that it becomes more feasible. Currently, just the cost of utilities and electricity are so high that we cannot compete with international players.” An important idea floated by him was the establishment of a Construction Bank of Pakistan. “This bank should provide bank guarantees to construction companies of Pakistan, who qualify a certain criteria, on easy terms and conditions, both for domestic and international projects. This will give impetus to Pak construction companies in their effort to secure overseas business and generate revenue through exports,”