Dr. Fady Gemayel is the co-owner and honorary chairman of Gemayel Freres, a family-owned corrugated cardboard and packaging company celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. He is also the current serving president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists. Dr. Gemayel spoke exclusively with Hospitality News ME about the state of the industry, the challenges he’s faced and future trends
What can you tell us about the company and its continuous quest for excellence?
Gemayel Freres has always been driven by its pursuit for quality and service excellence. To that end, the company has developed an exceptionally exhaustive quality management assurance system, which in 1998 saw it obtaining ISO certification. Besides our relentless efforts to ensure the fulfilment of all our customers’ needs, we were also driven to be in compliance with ISO 26000 Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines, while concurrently seeking and executing environmentally centric projects.
What are some of the services the company offers its faithful clientele?
Gemayel Freres is proud to have introduced, in 1929, recycling to the area, a technology which today has become quite popular, if not necessary. However back then, it was incredibly challenging. Following on its drive to meet customers’ needs, the company introduced in 1956 corrugated cardboard packaging to the region. Since then, Gemayel Freres has been at the forefront in finding ways to better serve its customers by providing them with sustainable packaging solutions, innovative products and dedicated excellent service. We have also been introducing various packaging types with several printing possibilities and processes. These have allowed us to become Lebanon’s one-stop shop, providing all types of packaging products with diversified printing options and high-quality graphics. Furthermore, we have a full range of cardboard corrugated profiles on offer, which are of the B, C, F and E grade level. This offering lends way to an array of capabilities, which we put to the service of our customers. We also are proud of our dedicated team and its design department capable of providing innovative solutions in regular packaging, P.O.S. displays, promotional items, fast-food packaging and all other custom-specific needs. That offering is further boosted by our ability to provide a reliable service with guaranteed delivery dates.
Keep in mind that customers’ needs are continuously evolving, necessitating that we do so faster to be able to anticipate and accommodate future demand. One interesting factor is that today, packaging has evolved quite significantly, especially when it comes to playing a key role in logistics and export purposes. Furthermore, packaging has also become the ‘quiet salesman’ driving a sale. For that reason, quality and sophistication in the design have become a must. To that end, we offer our customers a diverse palette of choices when it comes to the variety of materials used and the printing processes available. We work with our customers using sophisticated software to provide them with the most suitable solutions that best serve their products. Another equally important aspect, which is also part of our DNA, is our ability to ensure delivery under extremely tight deadlines. After all, we are a service-oriented industry and have built our name on our ability to satisfy customers’ needs and, in turn, ensure their growth and success.
One last noteworthy aspect that should be highlighted is the fact that today’s customers are keener to employ environmentally friendly solutions and the corrugated packaging we offer them is the right one. This has been made possible thanks to our clear vision and unobstructed foresight. This in turn has enabled us to be at the forefront of providing some of the most innovative solutions around.
Can you talk us through the difficulties incurred in the past?
Our long-term commitment to this industry has seen us rebuild our completely destroyed factories twice to ensure continued service of our customers and the industry as a whole. We also, during that period, lost our standing in the country’s recycling business due to the war, which we regained to re-emerge as the country’s leading fully integrated corrugated cardboard producer and one of the few integrated paper production facilities in operation throughout the region.
What can you tell us about Lebanon’s recycling industry?
I am proud to say that Lebanon is on par with the world’s advanced economies, recycling industries. Keep in mind that around 70 percent of packaging is made out of recycled paper. Furthermore, we have the privilege of not only having introduced recycling gear, but also growing Lebanon’s cardboard industry through commitment, resilience and various investments, with specialized producers, all of which now see us proudly exporting some of these products to regional companies.
What are the biggest problems currently facing Lebanon and how can these be resolved?
Our drive for recycling led to us to the acquisition, with our partners, paper companies in France, the latest being a specialized leading producer of white paper for packaging in that market as well as one of Europe’s most independent players. On that note, I am proud that from Lebanon, we have managed to position ourselves as important players on the international level. Having said that, there are many challenges ahead for Lebanon. We definitely need to boost our recycling capabilities and to organize the channels of collection and recovery. The, unfortunately, are threatened by some of the solutions advocated for solid waste management. Furthermore, the recycling industry in Lebanon is not granted special considerations when it comes to energy costs, which are extremely high compared to neighboring Arab states and Europe, especially since we play an important role in the economy.
What are your expansion plans?
Gemayel Freres has always been at the forefront of meeting its customers’ needs. That is why we have invested heavily in offering what customers might demand in the near future. We have a very solid platform of possibilities and our drive now is to make our bouquet of offerings available to a wider range of customers locally, regionally and internationally. This is one of our main focus areas, which would not have been possible were it not for our proud Lebanese and international partners.