Exhibition entrepreneur reflects on Dubai success Expert OpinionMiddle East
JC Durand, managing partner of Electra Events & Exhibitions on the journey of a European expatriate who decided to launch his own exhibitions contracting company in Dubai.

Electra Events & Exhibitions was born in 1992 in Dubai, originally in the electrical contracting business, which is what inspired the name Electra. 25 years later, the company has 500 in-house experts, providing 360 degrees event and exhibitions contracting solutions – ranging from décor and furniture rental to tent and marquee services – to a range of local and international clients.

Image: TRA, GITEX Technology Week 2016, Dubai (Prisme International)

Why did you start this business?

A few years after the creation of the company in 1992, it turned from an electrical contracting company into a stand contracting company. At the time, I was already working in the exhibition and events industry. In 1997, I called Dubai my home for just under two years. I briefly relocated to France, and returned back to Dubai in 2002.

After coming back, I met Nino Mastrorili. He was ill at the time and he approached me with a proposal to sell his company. On the verge of a financial loss, I stumbled upon the opportunity to decorate the VIP village for the first Bahrain Grand Prix. That was it – we earned a 1/3 of our yearly turnover in a single event. The company then transformed from an exhibition contractor into an exhibition and event contractor. Rapidly, we collaborated with a host of notable international players from my previous life. The adventure has been so exciting that every morning feels like a riveting one even after 14 years.

What has been your biggest accomplishment since you started at the company?

There are many, obviously. Coping with Dubai’s lightning-fast growth is one of them. To have gained such a good reputation both regionally and globally is an admirable feat. To maintain a warm and friendly “family” environment in a medium-sized company is another. To have stuck to our core values over the years, despite the obstacles. And finally, the main accomplishment would have to be seeing our team members grow professionally over the years.

This year, Electra Events & Exhibitions celebrates its 25th Anniversary. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?
Pride of course, but not for myself. I’m proud of the people who were part of the company at that time and for those that are still part of the family. Not forgetting those that have accepted the challenge of changing and progressing with the company. I’m also very proud and thankful to the team members who joined over the last 14 years, since I took over, and to those who have accompanied me along this exciting journey. I cannot complete this answer without mentioning Nino Mastrorili, who founded Electra, and sadly passed away a few months after handing it over. None of this would have started without his trust.

What are the key strengths of Electra Events & Exhibitions today?

We started with 14 employees, building pavilions at DWTC. We now have 500 in-house experts, providing 360 degrees’ event and exhibitions contracting solutions, including everything from décor and furniture rental to tent and marquees services. In 2016, to cope with the growth and better serve our clients, we moved our headquarters from Ras Al Khor to Dubai Design District (d3), a new community dedicated to startups, entrepreneurs and established international design, luxury and fashion brands.

We have everything in-house. By having a high-skilled team made of members that trust and respect each other and are used to working together, we can ensure that our clients benefit from completely integrated services that will be delivered on time. Today, those strengths allow us to advise both UAE-based clients and international ones that wish to exhibit in the Middle East.

Through the years, we have been able to invest in the best equipment. Our 25,000 square meter premises is equipped with state-of-the-art machinery from Europe.

Image: HENSOLD, IDEX, the International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2017, Dubai (designed by VRPE Team GmbH)

Where do you expect to go in the next 10 years?

I think our development will still follow Dubai’s crazy evolution. 2020 is tomorrow, after that expo, we predict that more and more international events will come to Dubai. More than just a hub for events in the Middle East, it will probably be another interesting gateway for African countries.

Tom Hall

Tom Hall

Editor, Exhibition World

Tom Hall

Editor, Exhibition World