The RAMY Automotive journey has been a long and exciting one. Founded in Dubai in April 1992 by a young Lebanese entrepreneur, Farid Semaan, who was inspired to bring his passion for cars closer to the market in the UAE. RAMY is a name that can be seen around the Emirates on all the most impressively modified vehicles: as well known for its projects as its close relationship with customers. But the way that RAMY has developed and progressed over the last 25 years can only truly be explained by the founder himself. So, on the occasion of its silver anniversary, I asked Farid Semaan a few questions about his brainchild: RAMY Automotive.
What made you want to start RAMY?
I always loved cars and motorcycles. I worked for several years in my father’s company in the field of garage equipment where I was the Workshop Manager, responsible for installing and repairing lifts and diagnostic computers. However, I always felt that I needed to be closer to cars, so I began looking for alternative opportunities. It was in 1990, that I resigned from my father’s company and worked as a freelancer, importing Jeep accessories with a meager starting budget of AED 15,000. This went on for 2 years during which time I had the chance of helping the Toyota dealership in Kuwait to restart their workshop. Through this, I generated AED 400,000 which I used to set up Ramy Trading in March 1992.
Was RAMY always a car accessory company?
I had introduced Warn winches and managed SONAX Car Care products at my father’s company when I was awarded the position of Marketing Manager. When I left to work as a freelancer, I became the sole distributor of those brands in the UAE. I added several other products to my portfolio during the period when I was independant, these eventually formed the core products of RAMY Automotive. So, yes, RAMY has always been focussed on car accessories, but has since branched into other aspects of automotive modification.
What is it about cars that you feel so passionate about?
When you love something passionately, you end up becoming obsessed with every aspect of it. Playing with cars goes back to when I was about 5 years old. I used to play with toy cars and with time a love developed for them. Whether that be a small Corgi Toy car or a real one, you start dreaming about what you could do, the car itself never ceasing to excite you. When you are a kid, you make it fly as far as your little arms can extend until, in your teenage years when you get your license, you drive it like there is no tomorrow. You are faster than the wind, unstoppable. Despite a few accidents, sheer luck leads to experience and, eventually, wisdom. Driving becomes an extension of your powers and pleasures, which carries a sense of freedom. A never ending love story that gets stronger the more you learn: the more you crave it then the more it will deliver.
What is behind the ‘RAMY’ name?
When I decided to name the company after Ramzi and Marwan, my sons, I took the first two letters of their names and wanted to call the company ‘RaMa’. Unfortunately, it was not accepted by the authorities then, as it represented the name of a Buddhist god. So, in order to keep the spirit of my son’s names in the company’s name, I changed it to ‘Ramy’ which in Arabic means ‘The Thrower’ or ‘The Shooter’, which was eventually accepted after a little help from my father!
What are some of your fondest memories over the last 25 years?
In the 1990s, I was the very proud owner of only the third Jeep Wrangler YJ that was ever sold in the UAE: a truly beautiful machine. Everybody wanted to buy it from me and I was stopped so many times by people asking if it was for sale. On one occasion, a man was ready to give me his brand new Mercedes C300 (very famous in those days) plus cash three times the value of the car, but I loved it too much to let it go. It was a matter of pride owning such a beautiful car that was turning heads, lifting eyebrows and making people stop in the street to admire it. Similar to the way that a painter falls so deeply in love with his painting that he cannot sell it, no matter how much he is offered. It is like giving away a piece of yourself. I also look back at the way that my boys, at a very early age, fell in love with our 4×4 cars to the point they influenced what cars their friends’ fathers bought. I have so many amazing memories of the last 25 years, even if I wrote a book it wouldn’t cover it all.
What would you say separates RAMY from competitors?
With due respect to competitors, RAMY was never started with money in mind because I was earning much more working at my father’s company. It was started, because I dreamed of doing it for the love I had for cars and everything associated with them. The best part was always when you get the chance to test the cars that we modified. That spirit stands true in the company today as many of my team are 4×4 drivers or car racers in their free time. As an offshoot to that and part of the ethos of our company, every single member of RAMY is made to remember that the instant he or she walks out of our premises, they will unavoidably become a client somewhere else. I like to remind them of the fact that they would want to be treated well as a customer, so this sympathy is reciprocated when dealing with our own clients. And, as I said earlier, RAMY was never started with profit in mind, so we see clients as friends who share the same passion and love of all things cars, rather than walking bags of money!
How do you see RAMY progressing into the future?
The automotive field is so diverse and dynamic. Diverse in the range it offers and dynamic in the developments it has undergone in such a short time. So, at RAMY, we are aiming to cater to the ever changing environment by offering clients the best experience possible. Put simply: that means we will be designing and developing parts based upon suggestions and feedback from our clients. Parts that are, far too often, neglected by big industries. We have also made it our priority to put the client first, without sacrificing quality of our products or services.