The HIDI Group was originally founded in 1975, by Andrew Hidi, in Toronto, Canada. At its infancy, Hidi & Associates primarily provided mechanical engineering consulting services. However, in the mid-90s Hidi & Associates acquired a company which offered electrical building services, called E. A. Rae & Associates.
The amalgamation of these two businesses resulted in the creation ‘Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers’, an MEP consulting engineering services firm that laid the foundation of what the The HIDI Group has become today.
Throughout the past 43 years, The HIDI Group has maintained a set of core values that concentrate on robust, longterm client relationships and high levels of customer service, while embracing the technology and innovation needed to succeed in an ever-changing business environment. Its team of professional engineers, engineering technicians and designers take on complex projects worldwide, supported by offices located in Toronto, Calgary, and Dubai.
“Until the late 90s, Hidi Rae was a relatively small firm catering primarily to clients within the Toronto region,” explains Ahmad Shakil, Managing Principal – Middle East at The HIDI Group. “As Hidi Rae’s reputation grew, so did its need to expand and evolve, with the decision being taken not to have all of its eggs solely in the ‘Toronto’ and ‘MEP’ basket.”
In 2002, the firm embarked upon an expansion and diversification strategy that resulted in the addition of a Communications (ELV/IT) division in 2003, the opening of the Calgary office in 2007 the same year that Building Commissioning was introduced. The expansion outside of North America came in 2008 with the unveiling of a Dubai office. In 2014 Hidi Rae also launched Alula Lighting Design, its inhouse specialty lighting design studio. Risk & Resilience services followed a year later. That same year, the decision was made to rebrand the firm from Hidi Rae Consulting Engineers to The HIDI Group. The firm continues to look for opportunities to expand its service offering, both as a company and in Dubai, with several exciting initiatives currently under consideration.
A Logical Step
“When I joined the firm in 2002, we were working primarily in the Toronto market,” says Ahmad. “But we were growing, and as you grow a firm, there are young people who aspire to higher roles and more challenges. We clearly saw that we needed more ‘space’ for these young professionals. So we had a brain-storming session and decided to diversify both geographically and in relation to the services we provided.”
The first move was to open an office in Western Canada; the city of Calgary was a great fit and obvious choice for expansion. Due to Ahmad’s 12 years of experience in the Dubai market, opening an office in the Gulf seemed to be the next logical step. “Around the economic and construction boom time, some architects from Canada were getting involved with projects in Dubai. We worked with those architects back in Canada and some of these firms eventually moved and set up offices in the region. Due to our ongoing U.A.E. projects and the fact that I had experience working in Dubai, there was a lot of synergy, and we decided to open our Dubai office in 2008.”
A Sense of Ownership
Technically speaking, for the UAE market, The HIDI Group currently provides consulting engineering services for MEP, ELV/IT/AV and Security systems for buildings, as well as speciality Lighting. These services cover both design and site supervision. Perhaps a better description is that the firm is in the business of helping its clients realise their visions and aspirations. The HIDI Group tries to ease its client’s ‘pain’ by being a reliable partner that is honest, fair, and that genuinely enjoys what it does.
“We endeavour to be the engineers of choice for our clients.” Ahmad continues. “We don’t go for the short-term approach, and we don’t try to be everything to everyone. Furthermore, we only operate in certain sectors, ensuring that we retain and have complete control over the quality and design of the projects.”
What particularly sets The HIDI Group apart from its competitors is its ability to integrate design considerations amongst all disciplines. It does not, for instance, assess risk and resilience in isolation; a risk mitigation recommendation often results in a mechanical and electrical design implications, whilst the lighting design must also consider security and energy requirements. The result is an all-inclusive approach that contributes to clients’ continuing success.
“It’s not just about robust designs; it’s a number of things, including quality of service, being conscious about the goals of client and providing a design that reflects those aspirations in terms of cost, time, performance, maintainability, and future proofing,” says Ahmad. “We try to instil a sense of being invested in a project, a sense of ownership and being a part of the whole process, endeavouring to be a partner that the client can rely on and who is available.”
What The HIDI Group does may not rocket science, but what it does, it does well. “Doing the job well is a combination of a number of things, including robust designs, which can be relied upon for trouble free performance, and designs and systems that are appropriate for the project’s key objectives and client’s aspirations.” explains Ahmad. “It is also important to be flexible.” The HIDI Group has the ability to offers its clients both a bespoke tailored approach or a standard solution, based on their needs. This extra effort has lead to The HIDI Group winning numerous important and prestigious projects in the Gulf.
“Whatever the project and whoever the client, we never take a blinkered approach,” he continues. “We look at the overall project and do what is best for that project. As an example recently, the firm was having an initial design workshop for a tall tower on a small plot where the team was struggling to make separate entrances work for different occupancies in a mixed-use project. Although it was not related to The HIDI Group’s area of expertise, a suggestion by the firm based on past experience helped the team come up with a very elegant solution to an architectural issue.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of our services is that we endeavour to be a reliable ‘Partner from Concept to Completion’. When a problem comes up, as it inevitably does in a construction project, we always find a solution in the best interest of our clients and the project.”
A Family Affair
The HIDI Group currently has a 40-strong team in Dubai and a team of over 160 back in Canada. As a result, it is big enough to take on practically any size of project, but is not so big that the partners and stakeholders lose touch with the projects and delivery of services. The firm’s partners are happy to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
This approach has fuelled impressive growth for The HIDI Group in Dubai, with the firm celebrating its 10th anniversary in the Emirate on June 1st, 2018. “Our business model is based on providing a high and reliable level of service to a select number of clients, retaining them for extended periods of time and working with them on a repeat basis. Some of our clients in Toronto have been with us since the company was founded in 1975, and we are looking to emulate that model in Dubai,” Ahmad says.
“Business is good at the moment, and the team is quite busy with a number of projects in various stages of design, and at least three new large projects expected to commence construction over the next few months.” The future, therefore, looks bright, with The HIDI Group continuing to base its business model on steady, controlled and manageable growth; not growth just for the sake of growth. Over the last five years, the firm has grown at just over 15% year-onyear, and is confident that it will be able to continue this in the future.
“The HIDI Group will be looking at opportunities to establish a presence in at least one other country in the region over the next couple of years. We constantly aim to expand the portfolio of services offered, and over the next five years we will certainly be adding at least two, possibly three, additional disciplines to our capabilities in Dubai.”
In spite of the group’s continued growth and innovative advancements, it has maintained a sense of family that is rooted in its earliest days. All the senior management in the firm are shareholders and thus have a vested interested in the firm’s success on a project by project and overall basis. Clients are dealing with owners, not just employees. Loyalty between The HIDI Group and its employees is one of the keys to its success. “We’ve created a really wonderful management team, and we all push each other, whilst at the same time creating an environment where everyone enjoys working together,” concludes Ahmad.
Here’s to the next 10 years!
THE HIDI GROUP
P.O. BOX 450176
T: +971 4 4431507