Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
The past two years have witnessed a facilitation of exponential development for a Company with a strong history in facilitating others’ success stories.
Facilities Management Solutions’ (FM Solutions) evolution into a standalone entity in 2015 came about as a part of an AFMS Group restructuring which also saw its Afroteq Advisory counterparts go it alone on the management and consultancy side. For the new-look FM Solutions though, the rebranding and restructuring has enabled a more agile, flexible and turnkey business to flourish; all the while in-keeping with the values that made the wider organisation so profitable in South Africa to begin with.
The Director responsible for overseeing this exciting period of growth for FM Solutions is Ronald Nothnagel, who understands better than most the significance of the Company’s recent makeover.
“What AFMS Group basically wanted was for each side of the Company to solely focus on their core area of business, so for FM Solutions this involves outsourced facility management contracts,” he introduces. “The core functions in running these outsourced contracts include all technical, soft and business support services incorporated into facilities management, and we have teams of people working on each client’s site; running the site, running the contracts and running the clients’ operations.
“What we’ve done differently since late 2015 is position ourselves to be focused more on the total package in the facilities management arena. We can now self perform a large amount of the core services required, allowing us to respond quicker, to be more cost efficient and for our clients to ultimately benefit.”
Flexible and agile
This new reliance and capitalisation on vertical integration provides a valuable option for FM Solutions to call upon, but it is the ability to remain flexible that serves as the main differentiator as a result of the new strategy; striving not to be a turnkey provider, but to be a more well-rounded entity with the ability to either perform services in-house or via its existing network of outsourced contractors.
“If you look at some of our major clients, these even include a large number of parliament buildings in South Africa, whereby we have positioned ourselves to self perform a lot of technical services on this contract, but not by completely moving away from the management model,” Nothnagel explains. “We still contract out a lot of the specialised services - such as things like security - so it’s about finding a balance between integrating more services into our own offering, without becoming completely a turnkey business.”
This aforementioned flexibility derives from an age-old trademark of FM Solutions - under all guises - to maintain its humble small-company ethos despite it growing to significant national size. Once again doing so for the benefit of both the Company’s internal operations and for its clients, continuous and personable collaboration is facilitated as a consequence.
Nothnagel continues: “We listen to our clients and understand things properly, rather than just going in with a set model and telling them this is what they should so. We have to understand each client’s individual requirements and adapt our model to suit their needs.
“We believe that by having a separate company focus now, solely looking after specific facility management and outsourced contracts, we are able to be much more flexible and agile in doing things and making decisions; subsequently coming up with better tailor-made solutions for the clients to serve them more efficiently and appropriately.”
The ability to empower
Balance is a keyword not just in terms of the Company’s operations but in terms of how FM Solutions progresses year-on-year, mixing a newly enjoyed autonomy as a standalone business with the Group strategy dictated by AFMS Group. One thing that is wholly addressed in both cases though is the high level of localisation instilled within the organisation, across its employees, supply chain and corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.
“We’ve been able to take things like supply chain and effectively give it residence in the FM side of the business,” Nothnagel notes. “It moves with the business and plays a big role in the business at the end. It has a bearing on contracts and on suppliers and costs thereof, and having it all sourced locally makes a big difference to us and helps to form our overall strategy for continuous improvement.”
Subsequently enriching a host of local skills and business partners, the same commitment to local upliftment is applied on a more community-based level too. Having recently been certified as a Level 1 BBBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) Company, CSR has always been a staple adherence for FM Solutions, but being able to carry out such objectives autonomously has given the business’s efforts a new dimension.
“CSR has always been very close to our hearts in South Africa, and we now have the ability to empower our teams throughout the Company to identify projects and opportunities in their specific locations,” Nothnagel details. “We want to make an impact on a local level, so anywhere that we have a contract and where we have people on-site, we empower those people to identify areas where we can make a difference in that community.
“As a result, we are now engaged in multiple projects across the country, giving back to all of these various areas.”
Dealing with a specialist
The evolution of FM Solutions since the end of 2015 hasn’t been revolutionary or an overhaul, but has been a subtle repositioning of a Company that can now act autonomously, brand itself without overlaps of peripheral services, and that can be entirely agile and flexible within itself to make the correct decision for each client in a timely manner.
Close collaboration and interaction has been achieved both inside and outside of the Company walls, and in keeping operations simple and down to earth, the business is able to concentrate on its quality of service; something which is directly influenced by the level of personability achieved alongside each client in the first place.
“Now that the two kinds of business are no longer intertwined, the client knows they are dealing with a specialist in what they need doing for them,” Nothnagel emphasises. “Having this one brand and single offering to the marketplace has positioned us very differently and clients warm to that and take comfort in it.”
And of course, FM Solutions has reaped the benefits of it too, as it can now look towards even more concerted growth in the future, all the while maintaining the small company methodology that helped build its extensive portfolio in the first place.
“It’s very important to know where the marketplace is going and to keep our ears to the ground, in order to identify where the corporate world is going and what our clients may possibly need in the future; and being a small flexible Company helps to respond to these trends quicker,” Nothnagel concludes. “For example, the role of the Facilities Manager is changing where they have to have a better understanding of smart technologies, or sustainability, or green buildings, and these are the kinds of things we will look to focus on moving forward, as we continue to play a significant role in South Africa.”