Big Interview: Praveen Sarapure
Brayan Group founder talks building theme parks and Bryan Adams
It’s not often that you hear a construction company has been influenced by a famous singer. But in the case of Dubai-based Brayan Group that is exactly the case. The company, which recently completed the design and build MEP package of IMG Worlds of Adventure, currently the largest indoor theme park in the Middle East, was named after US rocker Bryan Adams.
The story goes that chairman and managing director, Praveen Sarapure, was looking to start his own business in 2005 after leaving his job with York International/Johnson Controls. During his farewell party, a song by the aforementioned musician – one of Sarapure’s favourite artists – came on in the background, and from there a company name was born.
“I’ve always liked Bryan Adams’ music so I guess it came about naturally that the company would be influenced by him in some way,” Sarapure says.
Whatever the name, Brayan Group has carved out a respectable pool of projects for itself in the MEP market for an SME.
Referring to the IMG Worlds of Adventure contract, which was undertaken by subsidiary Brayan Electromechnical Works, Sarapure says: “Brayan Group has a very strong relationship with the client and this helped us in delivering a very challenging yet iconic project.”
More theme park-related projects have come in parallel with that project including Bollywood Theme Park, where working under main contractor Bin Shafar Contracting, the company delivered the MEP package.
The attraction is one of three theme parks – Motiongate and Legoland being the other two – which make up Meraas’ Dubai Parks and Resorts in Jebel Ali. Brayan Group is currently involved on another package in the development, delivering data centres and community facilities under main contractor Arco. The project is due to be handed over before November 2016.
“We have become something of theme park/entertainment specialists and that’s great to have in our portfolio,” Sarapure says. “Especially when you consider the high profile clients we are working with.”
He admits that a big factor in deciding which projects to target is payments; or to put it another way, whether the company believes it will get paid on time.
“In the past we have had our fingers burnt, so now we don’t take on a job if it is not backed by bank finance and a reputable end user,” he says. “If everything is crystal clear from day one – the contract conditions, bill of quantities and the design of the building, constructing any monument is not difficult.” Sarapure hopes to double his workforce to 1,000 over the next two to three years to meet increased demand in the market and to reduce his dependency on recruitment firms to hire additional manpower primarily from the subcontinent.
“The biggest thing for Brayan Group is that we have a large scale project division considering we have gone from doing jobs for AED2m ($554,000) when we started in 2006 to AED200m ($54m),” Sarapure says.
A case in point, Brayan Group has just landed a AED115m ($31m) contract on Damac’s Akoya Oxygen project (phase two) working under main contractor ACTCO General Contracting. It is to carry out MEP work on 887 villas within the development, ready for handover in 2018. He mentions that he is also in talks with other big name developers and main contractors.
“We are sure to overachieve the targets of 2016 and accomplish bigger results in 2017-2018,” Sarapure says confidently. “Next year we want to do two big projects and three small projects. That’s the right mix for us.”
He sees Brayan Group’s future in renewable energy projects, and would like to expand on the inroads it has made in Africa where it has undertaken affordable housing and power projects for the likes of Shapoorji Pallonji.
“Since my background is renewable energy, I wanted to do something for Africa – so I got into low-cost housing,” he says. “I came up with a technology where I can build a house in a few days. We also built power plants and bio plants in Africa and these are two areas I want to expand upon in the Middle East.”
Sarapure has been in talks with technology companies in the USA about launching their renewable energy products in the region under the Brayan Group banner. He talks about street lights that are powered by wind and solar and backed up by a battery if neither of those natural resources are available at any given time, and infrared water heaters. Brayan Group will be launching around 10 energy efficient products in the next six months.
“Launch will take place when we get the patent, development rights and engineering skills in place,” Sarapure says. “So we want to get into technology MEP contracting.”
As if this wasn’t enough, Brayan Group wants to start its own air ducts factory in Dubai. Sarapure sees this as a way of controlling the delivery of a critical product. Nor does he rule out acquiring new companies, similar to when he took over a small switchgear outfit in 2006 and turned it into Brayan Electrical Switchgear.
“We have also faced problems in deliveries of ducts especially when there are design changes on projects, so we want to bring that in-house.
“We want to become a turnkey MEP/EPC contractor with an in-house switchgear factory, HVAC duct factory, internal manpower, and we would like to continue our core business of MEP/EPC but with the expansion plan in mind for renewable energy, more specifically solar and bio energy.”