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Facility management is a relatively young field of business in our country even though it covers and co-ordinates very traditional activities that mainly apply to management and the maintenance of buildings.
One of the companies that has been offering services of integrated facility management for years is AB Facility, a.s., a memeber of the Penta Group. As of last autumn, Pavel Iványi (51) was managing director of AB Facility. He has dual nationality; from 1976, he lived in Amsterdam for 26 years and studied at college and the Faculty of Law at the University of Amsterdam there. He gained his MBA title at Rotterdam School of Management – Erasmus University. In the past he worked at the airline company KLM, at ABN AMRO Bank and at Van Gansewinkel. Prior to joining AB Facility, he ran the Czech branch of G4S. His wife is from the Netherlands and he also speaks Dutch with his daughters.
What is your experience from the Netherlands?
The Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and Great Britain are very advanced in the outsourcing areas, which is after all the term that is often used instead of FM in many countries. The reason for that is not just that many companies are trying to hold onto their ‘core business’ but also because the state administration understands that there are other specialists for some areas and that it is better to leave professional activities to them instead of getting into it themselves. They have a different approach to FM in the Netherlands. I think you can study FM at a Bachelor’s level at six universities and at two or three for a Master’s Degree. It is a well recognised profession. When you say FM everyone knows what you’re talking about and you don’t need to explain anything.
How are facility managers seen in general?
Outsourced facility managers have their position in companies and are respected as professionals. When college students are looking for employment, they can discover what a facility manager is and how versatile and attractive are his activities. All this makes an environment that is different to ours. On the other hand, when you look at the level of integration of FM services, the situation is not as if we really lagged behind within Europe. We offer integrated services to many, mostly network customers, who know the environment of those more advanced countries – and that is what they require from us. We are certainly capable of providing them with integrated services.
In which areas can we compare with them?
Development in our country lags behind with regards to how many companies requires such services. We certainly have examples where we provide integrated FM services on the same level as in more advanced countries. We know how to do it but to a smaller extent. And that is why it is also very important to meet within the IFMA at events where different companies present what they can do. The subconscious of FM is simply fundamentally different. Some services are traditional in particular countries and are seen differently within the area of facility services. Different services from the area of information technologies, for instance, come under facility management in the Netherlands. We don’t know that in the Czech Republic yet. Other areas, on the other hand, are included within integrated FM here, such as the maintenance of green and indoor areas, which are secured by specialised companies in other countries and are not included within an integrated FM.
At what phase is the consolidation of AB Facility and their current activities abroad?
Consolidation of AB Facility is not complete yet. The company is stabilised and has had new management since the beginning of the year. The financing of all our companies in the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Poland is also stabilised. Those are also the three main markets we focus on and also have strong support there from our holding company Penta. At the moment we don’t offer a comprehensive portfolio of services in these countries. Two years ago, we purchased a company that only dealt with cleaning in Poland. Now we are also expanding the portfolio by security and mainly technical facility management, which is doing well. Our aim will be to complement this portfolio with a form of acquisition in countries where we already operate. We don’t want to expand any further too hot-headedly until we are sure about the consolidation of services and their level in the countries where we operate. We are certainly a sufficiently large trans-national and reliable partner for companies in Central Europe, which organise tenders for technical facility management, cleaning and security.
And current plans?
What is now the most important issue for our company is to staff it with people on the professional level of facility managers. I am convinced that that is an issue for the whole segment and not just for ourselves. If we were saying that this field can be studied in the Netherlands at particular levels, here we must rely on people who either studied abroad or have gained practical experience. It is not enough for a facility manager to be a specialist in technical facility management, he/she must have the ability to distribute security or to service some facilities. He/she must mainly be communicative, identify himself/herself with a clients thinking and be able to offer to the client proposals for some changes. He/she must also approach it from an economic point of view and manage people. It is very demanding and there are not many of those who can do it. We found several of those amongst our employees and are also looking externally. We train them and invest in their education in order to be able to offer such people to our key clients.
Why doesn’t the state support training within this particular field of business?
Our educational system is in a very difficult situation, demand here, unfortunately, is not always adequate to supply. The state administration wants to deal with things their own way. They have a concept that they can be the specialists in security, cleaning or facility management themselves. We can only hope that the state administration will be able to employ and pay capable and competent facility managers.
What is the practical experience from FM within the state sector in the Netherlands?
The outsourcing level is much bigger than in the Czech Republic and there is not the desire to deal with things in their own way. A specialist deals with a specialised activity, so the world there is a little different. When I was giving the example of prisons – the state has the executive power and can hold prisoners but is also aware of the fact that the operation of a prison doesn’t differ that much from the operation of a hotel. Only with equipment and bars in the windows and that there are companies that can manage such establishments better. Here is another example: How much time do the police lose when they arrest somebody or take them into custody and to sort out various paperwork... In Great Britain, all this area is outsourced to private companies. This is not work done by the police but by a hired company. Co-operation with the state sector is paralysed in our country by rules of complicated tenders, appeals and complaints that are examined and investigated by the Office for the Protection of Competition.
What projects do you prefer?
The large projects that we are preparing are interesting and expand our portfolio. One such area is the preventive and operational maintenance of production facilities. Companies where we traditionally dealt with the maintenance of the building etc want us to also start maintaining their machinery equipment. This area is exceptionally interesting for us, expands the possibilities for our operation and also strengthens our relations with the client. If we know how to set a maintenance programme – preventive and corrective on which production depends more than on our traditional services – the client really appreciates that.
What is the difference in viewing clients since you have been under Penta?
Penta belongs to leading and financially stable investors from within the market. AB Facility belongs amongst very successful projects such as Dr. Max, Fortuna, regional hospitals. Penta’s ambition is to build large companies with an equity value of EUR 20 million that are market leaders. We are now before the period when we are to see whether we are to belong promisingly amongst the large ones and remain permanently within Penta’s portfolio or whether we are not able to fulfil this ambition. It is naturally a significant challenge for us.
Are you planning for AB Facility to move to Penta?
Penta Real Estate is realising the Waltrovka project, where we are to move next year to the first completed administrative building Aviatica. We deem to be in a modern building that meets our requirements – flexibility, health, having both the LEED and BREEAM certificates. We will secure management of the complex and would like to present a clear demonstration of our quality services. As it is at Florentinum whose complex we manage, as well as integrated facility services.
A. Wagner / photo: L. Hausenblas