fmME Supplier focus: Kevin Storey, Flowcrete ME
Service providers that look beyond the price point will accrue long-term benefits, Kevin Storey, managing director of Flowcrete Middle East, tells fmME
What is your operational presence in the UAE?
Flowcrete Middle East regionally operates through a sales office in the Downtown Jebel Ali area of Dubai. This office covers the entire MENA region, with products that are manufactured in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The company has been operating in the region for more than 16 years and has built up a strong reputation within the commercial and industrial sectors. Our products are manufactured locally – in Dubai – so that regional projects can quickly be provided with sustainable flooring systems and solutions.
How has demand from the UAE’s FM market changed over the years?
One key trend that we’re noticing is the move towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly building materials. This has meant analysing each of our products through a green lens to ensure that they meet the highest environmental standards at each stage of the system’s life cycle.
Central to meeting the FM market’s concern is guaranteeing a high standard of indoor air quality, which with flooring, means providing systems that have low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are gases that are emitted from certain solids or liquids that can cause short- and long-term health issues for a building’s occupants.
As part of this drive, we’re finding an increased emphasis on the importance of education through all stages of the development process, so that facilities managers are aware of the low-VOC material options available in the market.
How does your product and service portfolio improve FM delivery?
FM service providers are looking for flooring solutions that will meet the long-term practical, aesthetic, and financial criteria of buildings. This can range from specialist car park coatings that will withstand intense UV exposure and heavy traffic, to epoxy flooring that is suitable for back of house areas and plant rooms. It also includes fast-cure systems that can dramatically reduce the application timescale; surfaces that can provide a hygienic food-safe floor; and, finishes that allow dazzling works of art to be created and maintained underfoot.
What is the scope of Flowcrete’s fire safety and egress systems?
We work with a variety of sectors where fire-resistant flooring is a paramount concern and therefore, it is important that we advise facilities managers to specify surfaces that will work alongside an effective fire evacuation strategy.
These days, a kind of fire-resistant resin flooring that is available can have aggregates broadcast into the wet resin to create a slip-resistant finish. To avoid the potentially dangerous build-up of flammable liquids, the seamless nature of epoxy floor coatings facilitates easy cleaning that quickly removes spillages and contaminants from the area.
Drainage systems that work alongside the site’s fire suppression system so that water or foam rapidly flow away can also be incorporated.
What are some of the challenges faced by regional FM outfits?
The FM market is increasingly embracing the concept that a cheaper option is not always the best one, and this outlook is especially critical for flooring. For example, epoxy terrazzo systems may have a higher initial installation cost than tiles, vinyl, or carpet, but they will last significantly longer, have a lower annual maintenance cost, and a lower replacement cost than the others. This means that in the long run, epoxy terrazzo systems provide better value for money and are easier to manage.
Should the ongoing slowdown in regional construction activity worry FM product suppliers?
The slowdown in new construction is not a concern as there will always be a need for floor renovation solutions for existing sites. Good facilities managers understand that when a flooring system starts to show signs of ageing, it is important to replace it as soon as possible – not only keep up the standard of the facility, but also to protect the substrate underneath from deteriorating, which could cost even more in the long term.
Where do you see the Middle East’s FM market in the next five years?
The FM sector will become more aware and knowledgeable about the wide variety of flooring options available and how the different sustainability, practicality, eco-friendliness, and aesthetic properties of each system stack up. We are also hoping that facilities managers will start to understand the importance of using high-quality products that last longer, rather than selecting cheaper options that fail quicker and lead to higher expenses in downtime and refurbishment costs.