It’s not every day you come across an organization that has undergone rebranding and yet managed to retain its image in the market. After meeting Ramez Hammamy, Managing Director, Apleona HSG Facility Management, UAE, and Ihab Assi, Country Director, at their Dubai office, one realizes that it’s always important to look at the bigger picture when it comes to managing any facility. Previously known as Bilfinger HSG, Apleona is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, and is active in more than 30 countries. The company delivers a broad spectrum of services in facility management and real estate, in addition to industrial services within the public and private sectors major corporations, property developers, banks, hospitals and various multi-national clients. In this interview with FM today, both Hammamy and Assi talk about the brand’s presence in the region, the scope of work and the growth potential of the FM industry.
Ramez Hammamy (RH): The rebranding of Bilfinger to Apleona has been a 12-month process across the various countries. The brand Apleona represents stability, strength, and sustainability. We have been dealing with clients from across the globe, and despite the belief that implementing a new name may not gain instant recognition, in just a few months we have seen a stark difference, where people are relating to the brand instantly.
RH: The year 2017 has defined our path to further step into the market. Our journey started 10 years back, and after 7 years of focusing on multinational clients in the UAE, Apleona decided 3 years ago to tackle the local UAE market. Since then we are getting invited to participate in big tenders which says a lot about how the market has received Apleona. Ihab Assi (IA) : This year, our main focus was to stabilize our operations in the region. Through this process, we have added in-house soft services including cleaning, hospitality and security to our scope of services. Apleona aims to provide complete turn-key solutions to all serviced facilities.
IA: While Apleona has been active across the country at many key and iconic projects, a real highlight has been the Joint Venture with Sharjah Asset Management Holding (SAMH), the investment arm of the Government of Sharjah, to deliver various FM and technical services at various Sharjah public and private projects. RH: Another key highlight has been the contract we won with a prominent bank in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year. This is the first bank we are servicing in the country, and it has added a lot of value to our brand. In this project we provide the complete IFM services, except for security. As we are servicing all their branches across the country, the project gave us the opportunity to penetrate erstwhile untapped areas.
RH: Apleona provides complete IFM services to all its clients; we even provide staff for hospitality scope and VIP shoppers. However, when it comes to initiatives, Apleona has always promoted green thinking amongst our clients. Be it in the way we provide our services, the machines, and products we use, or even the energy-saving initiatives, we have ensured it is environment-friendly in nature. IA: Globally, the scope of services is far larger than what we provide in the UAE. However, we serve the market depending on its requirements. The company as a whole is ready to support the demands of any customer. Despite being a mid-sized company in the UAE, we are backed by professional expertise that will enable us to provide a solution to any requirement. As of now, we are choosing our clients wisely to help our brand grow to its full potential in the country.
RH: While we are present in more than 30 countries, our major presence is in Germany. One can’t really compare both markets as they are very different in terms of the environment and culture. In my experience, I would say that UAE is one of the most advanced markets globally in terms of the requirements, which are driven by the projects and the kind of buildings and people who use those facilities. IA: One of the biggest differences I have seen in the FM industry in the UAE is the fact that it is open and a fast market possessing a culture that allows for global innovation and the latest trends to be implemented immediately. And this works well with Apleona as we aim to be a driver that will set benchmarks backed with 140 years of experience guarded with technical expertise that is garnered from across the countries.
RH: In the future, we aim to be a recognized service supplier for our customers. As a trusted service supplier, we will ensure that our clients can concentrate on their core business without any hindrance. At the same time, we aim to grow without compromising on our standard of services. IA: Apleona is a conservative company. We don’t really jump into big numbers for the sake of it. The plan is to look at the sustainable business while maintaining quality, which is not easy in this competitive market. But as a company, we have always believed that we’d rather concentrate on a sustainable business module than quantity.