Monday, 23 December 2013

A Day In The Life Of A Window Cleaner

Peter Manzi the managing director of Clearwater in the company's water purication plant where the equipment can filter up to 75,000 litres of water per day and is stored in these containers. day in the life: keeping Dubai water and windows up to scratch - Peter Manzi is the managing director of Clearwater, a window cleaning and maintenance company based in Dubai. The 53 year old Briton arrived in the UAE nine years ago having seen a new water purification system in the United Kingdom and sensed a window of opportunity opening in Dubai with the emergence of the property market. He began with three employees, which has grown to a staff of 20. The purification system he employs removes the sodium, calcium and magnesium to leave the water chemical free and windows streak-free.

I have always been an early riser, not naturally, it’s because I have seven children, aged nine to 29. Only four of them are here at the moment, but Christmas can become chaotic. I get the kids ready for school. I live in Arabian Ranches with the kids at Jess Ranches, so I’m lucky enough to be able to walk them there. We have recently restructured the company so domesticity is a respite.

I have a cup of tea and some toast and then pack the wife off to work. She is in property so is constantly busy. I swim 20 lengths every morning, it focuses my mind, strengthens my body and creates a positive energy that doesn’t leave me for the whole day.

Clearwater has changed tack from the corporate world and rope access on high towers to the residential space. We moved from concentrating solely on window cleaning to adding a maintenance service. The service is a 24-hour operation so we have to be ready to react day or night to people with plumbing problems, AC maintenance or electricity concerns. When I began the business I partnered with the Lootah family, which helped with the licensing and the business development. That partnership ended 18 months ago as the Clearwater business didn’t fit with their core business. However, the family are still a valuable and dependable resource. We have the contract for cleaning the windows of all the Eppco and Enoc service stations. This has to be done at night which generally means the morning is more than busy.

I often have site visits or contract negotiations. We recently signed the contract to do deep cleaning [when one tenant leaves and a home is readied for another] on 100 villas and preventive maintenance for 42 villas on Jumeirah Golf Estates. There has been a real movement in the business confidence of the city and it is showing in our contracts book.

I have lunch – usually a smoked salmon sandwich – which is generally eaten at my desk. I would like to expand regionally but for the moment I am relying on organic growth. The maintenance business is a very competitive field. It requires professional, prompt service and now we are seeing the benefit from the referrals. The past few years have been difficult but the fact that we have stayed in the market, delivering a competitive package, is now paying dividends.

There are usually more site visits in the afternoon whether it’s checking on the maintenance team or to see if an overnight clean has been done correctly. I believe in our product and the water purification system that we use [for window cleaning] so I have diversified into selling bottled cleaning water for interior windows. It was a natural extension as one can see a myriad of products in every supermarket that use countless chemicals to clean windows.

Our product is environmentally friendly and we keep our carbon footprint as low as possible. Our fleet of vans run on bio diesel, sourced from the Lootah family. The bottled water business is still in its infancy as the patent costs and the scale of distribution is huge but we are in Géant and Lulu. It probably needs a Dh3 million investment to push that side of the business, which at present I feel would be challenging, but you don’t get many cleaning products that are safe enough for your children to drink and kind to the environment. I am planning for a very good 2014 with 50 per cent growth in manpower and 28 per cent growth in profits. When you look at global commerce right now there are few better places to be in business than here.

I leave for home and make sure the kids have done all their homework. If there is something on the TV, or Chelsea, I may watch but generally the business always needs some attention. Supper is usually pasta at 8pm.

It’s lights out and straight to sleep as long as there has not been too much stress that day.

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