Chris Cracknell talks to fmme on the opening of OCS Emirates
It may be a new entry in the UAE’s FM market, but the OCS Group has a long and rich history of working in the FM sector backing it as it starts working in the UAE as a joint venture with United Technical Services (UTS), operating under the name of OCS Emirates.
Established in 1900, OCS is a family-owned FM company headquartered in the UK that delivers more than 70 different kinds of services across a variety of sectors to over 100,000 clients in over 40 countries. Besides the UK, the company, which has a staff count of more than 90,000 people around the globe, also boasts of a commendable presence in countries like New Zealand, Thailand, India and others.
OCS started its Middle East operations by opening an office in Qatar two years ago, and according to Chris Cracknell, global CEO, OCS Group, the company is planning to follow up its launch in the UAE by setting up a branch in Saudi Arabia later this year.
“This move to the Middle East is all part of plan that we put together maybe seven or eight years ago for expansion of our group into this area,” reveals Cracknell. “Coming into this part of the world, we needed partners, and so we spent a lot of time trying to find people who matched the values that we have as a family-owned business. In the UAE, we found such an organization with UTS, whose values match closely with ours.”
Having observed the FM market in the UAE, Cracknell feels that it currently has a strong leaning towards labour supply, and the provision of FM services is being catered around that, as opposed to finding solutions to the actual needs and requirements of the customer.
“We are keen to look at the market from a completely different angle, i.e. the output,” Cracknell says. “What are we doing to help our clients achieve their strategies? We need to sit with the clients, and ask them, what are you trying to achieve, where do you want to be in 2-5 years, etc., and then figure out how we can align what we are doing with our services in total facilities management to help meet those needs.”
With respect to the question of OCS Emirates’ own labour force, Cracknell reveals that the company plans to migrate some of its trained staff in India to work here in the UAE.
“We have an opportunity to create a career path for our staff from India who, because they have already been trained and understand our values, can come here, ready to work,” he says. “They understand OCS and our way of working; they understand our values as a family business, and so we can install them here. For them, it’s a career advancement and they get benefits out of that, and for us, we have staff that understand how we work.”
According to Cracknell, moving the focus away from labour supply and towards output specifications also allows the company to focus more on innovation, and thereby concentrate on making sure that the client’s needs and expectations are being met. “If our staff share our passion for the business and for the client, then that customer will be taken care of properly,” he explains. “It becomes more about offering solutions, than about being just a service provider.”
With goals like these governing OCS’ business in the UAE, Cracknell believes that OCS Emirates’ launch is in sync with what the market is looking for in terms of FM service providers.
“I think we have got the timing right,” Cracknell says. “And we have got the right partners. And we now need the patience to build relationships, to prove our capabilities, and then convert it into a sustainable business for the long term. As a family business, we are committed to the long term.”