The integration of Saudi Steel Pipe into Tenaris in 2019 marked an important step to expand the company’s footprint and capabilities in Saudi Arabia. Rebranded as TenarisSaudiSteelPipes (TenarisSSP), the company is now the leading ERW pipe manufacturer in the kingdom and works with major national and international oil companies in the region. At the helm of the plant is Senior Operations Director Jacobo Montaño who moved to Saudi 12 years ago following five years in Latin America. Despite the initial challenges of a new language and culture, among others, Montaño and his family settled in and found their home away from home.
As Montaño prepares to take on a new challenge in Canada, he reflects on his assimilation, in culture and company in Saudi, and actions by the local team that contributed to TenarisSSP’s transformation over the years.
What does Saudi Arabia mean for you and your family?
I moved here with my wife and our then 10-month-old son in 2010. We’ve been living in Saudi for more than twelve years and it has been a wonderful experience of both personal and professional growth. Our two daughters were born here, and we are raising our kids in a truly multicultural environment. We feel blessed for our time here and we call Saudi our home. Not only have we discovered all the beauty of the Middle East and the richness of their culture, but also, we understood we have a lot in common. I’m from Venezuela and, for us, family is very important. Here in Saudi, family values are also very strong. I’ve also developed strong friendships with people from different countries, from Saudi to the Far East, and consider myself a much more open person today.
Which were the challenges of establishing Tenaris’s first facility in Saudi Arabia?
From an industrial point of view, we had to build from scratch with most of our team being either new in Tenaris or new in the country. Over the past 12 years, we succeeded in aligning our operations with Tenaris standards and we are proud to say we have one of the most efficient lines in Tenaris’ global manufacturing system.
Another big challenge was recruitment. It demands a deep understanding of the company values and the local culture. Saudi is a country with little industrial heritage therefore, it was more difficult to find candidates with a solid industrial experience. Over time, however, we learnt that we needed to look for values such as resilience and the ability to adapt to a demanding environment.
How would you describe the integration process?
In 2019, after almost two years of due diligences, meetings, visits, and plans, Tenaris officially began to build the foundation of the new TenarisSSP. As a company that had operated for 39 years prior to the integration, Saudi Steel Pipe had its own industrial culture that in many aspects differed from Tenaris’s. We knew we had to integrate both styles and develop a new identity. To achieve this, the most important part was identifying strong elements in each culture and organizing a lot of training activities and meetings to discuss the best way to approach each situation, case by case. Of course, this was not always easy. We were dealing with an entirely new team with people from more than sixteen different countries. Little by little we started working as a single team. The key to success was the openness of everyone involved. We were genuinely committed to creating a new TenarisSSP that became stronger by integrating the best of both worlds. Today we have a unified environment, regardless of your starting point in the company.
As you look back at the last three years in TenarisSSP, what were your biggest achievements?
Saudi Arabia is one of the most important markets in the oil industry. The strength of our operations resides in our people, their resilience, and their capability to adapt and change fast when circumstances require it. Throughout the last three years, we have duplicated the efficiency of our production lines without major investments, we have introduced new products and we have completed more than three years without major accidents and almost two without Lost Time Accidents. We have reached new production records in almost every line of TenarisSSP and today we are the strongest ERW pipe manufacturer in Saudi Arabia. I’m very proud of my team and of all their work. I’m sure that Saudi will continue to grow and will become more and more relevant within our industrial system, thanks to the full support of the entire team.
What are your expectations for your new position in Canada?
During my time in Saudi Arabia, I was able to engage in a variety of initiatives that I feel have prepared me well for my new position in Canada. It is one of the significant oil markets and its role will be critical in consolidating Tenaris’s position in North America as the principal supplier for the whole market. The country being diverse and open also presents an excellent opportunity for my family. They are as delighted as I am to go from extreme heat to extreme cold. I'm excited to be a member of the team and to learn from them while also contributing value from my own expertise. With the knowledge of the Canadian team and the addition of new members, I'm convinced that with some effort, our Sault Ste. Marie, ON, facility will be one of Tenaris' finest performers.