The Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) master community has helped shape Dubai’s southern skyline, the community — of which DMCC was the master-developer — is now closing in on the 10 year mark, and its maintenance and upkeep has been an evolutionary process, says Concordia.

The firm was co-founded by DMCC to maintain the master community, and in time Concordia has managed to find its footing in the city’s growing landscape of facilities management (FM) service providers, moving away from the ‘JLT-only’ perception that has long prevailed.

fmME visited Concordia’s head offices tucked away behind the Al Etihad Gold refinery. “The location might not be something you expect to be part of JLT because there are no high-rises in this side of the master community, but we have our staff accommodation on site, and that’s probably been our biggest advantage over the years,” says Sanjay Bhatia, general manager, Concordia.

Bhatia took over the role of company GM a little over a year ago, and brings a sound understanding of FM, having served in various capacities in EFS FM, Damac and Sodexho India.

He gives an overview of Concordia’s evolution of scope of work across JLT. “There is a big difference in the community itself, first of all it’s not a gated community and faces tremendous pressure on a day to day basis. To add to it the road network is used by people to access other parts of the city and its highways, that brings in close to 80,000 visitors a day into the master community,” he informs.

This unique nature of flow of visitors puts a peculiar set of pressures when it comes to cleaning and maintenance of the exterior, Bhatia says. “The master developer also turned one of the lakes into a park, and we maintain that as well — it’s used for a lot of events which we are co-organisers of,” he adds.

Concordia has a dedicated team of 450 staff working on different aspects of JLT’s maintenance, from rope-access cleaning and maintenance, security, concierge, MEP etc. “Certain services have to be outsourced as per regulation — which include fire, life and safety; we also outsource elevator maintenance and landscaping. The latter most was a conscious decision because it’s a labour intensive service, which we discovered was easier and more affordable to outsource because the supplier has hundreds of staff who specialise in landscaping, rather than us creating a new sub-division within the company [it made sense for us to outsource it].

Majority of Dubai’s residents have visited JLT at some point, if not having worked or resided in the community, and Bhatia notes the efficiencies with which the team handles day-to-day operations. “After I joined, we decided to do a skill-set matrix with all our staff, to see how good the people are: Are they in the right roles and positions? And we found out that the average tenure of our maintenance team is four years, which is a healthy average. The turnover levels are as low as any other company, and any industry standard in the UAE. This gives us a huge advantage because we don’t lose the knowledge of the staff that we have put a lot of effort in training.

“This [JLT] master community has unique features — the lakes, underground services, parking structures and installations within them. Every time there is a change or upgrade in a system — for example we are in the process of changing all the gate barriers in the parking lots to anti-pass back — our staff shadows the vendor and learns from them. Gate barrier maintenance was also taken over in-house two years ago because the team managed to gain superior understanding of the system over time,” Bhatia explains.

He further adds: “We are also in the process of upgrading all security systems and cameras. Again, the approach remains the same: Our staff work with the vendors during the installation stage. Ultimately, that also helps keep our costs down in terms of what the community pays as service charges.”