Chris Bates is the Facilities Manager for Tarmac’s Central & Wales Regional Head Office at Granite House in Syston, Leicestershire. With over 40 years experience in building and facilities management, Chris has seen a wealth of change and industry developments during that time. One thing he hadn’t come across though is a #cosmetic repair specialist offering the services of Plastic Surgeon…
How did you hear about Plastic Surgeon?
My introduction to the company came via a speculative letter that landed on my desk one morning. Unless I was out to the market for a particular service or product it would be something I would usually pay little attention to, however, whoever had compiled the marketing in this instance had done a fantastic job. It drew me in straight away and told me exactly what I wanted to know (as an FM) about how beneficial quality repairs to damaged surfaces would be in terms of savings against potential time and materials charges.
What instantly struck me was the simplicity of the concept described. In over four decades of working in facilities management I had never come across a company offering such a service. My initial thought was ‘I can’t believe I didn’t know about this’. Cosmetic smart repairs have been a longstanding staple of the car industry, so why wasn’t it a well known aspect of facilities management?
What cosmetic repair needs are there at the Tarmac offices?
We’ve been at Granite House for 12½ years now, and, with up to 600 people regularly using the office, the need for minor repairs, as you’d expect, is considerable. Over that period of time, fixtures and fittings inevitably get knocked about, scuffed and worn through prolonged and frequent use.
I like to run a tight ship and am a firm believer that a place of work should be a pleasant place to come to. It’s our aim, as an FM team, therefore to keep everything in good working order and in a good state of repair. The cosmetic repair service that Plastic Surgeon offers comes firmly into its own in this respect.
Another element to take into consideration is that, being on Syston’s Watermead Business Park, we’re on a prestigious site. Other businesses on the park include Bentley Leicester, Flogas and Dunelm Mill’s national store support centre.
How has Plastic Surgeon helped so far?
We recently changed our FM services contractor and one of their first ‘wins’ was to provide us with a better washroom service. Inevitably, the change in fixtures and fittings meant that panels and Bushboards were left with holes that needed filling and making good. This was the first task that I turned to Plastic Surgeon to help with.
The quality of repairs completed by the Plastic Surgeon team in such a sensitive area (people judge a business on the cleanliness and state of repair of washrooms, for obvious reasons) was outstanding, such that unless one knew where to look the repairs are truly invisible. The cost of installing new panels etc would have been many times that of the repairs. Plastic Surgeon, by doing such a good job, has enabled us to avoid this expenditure.
What other areas can you see Plastic Surgeon helping with?
We are currently looking at those internal doors and frames that are in need of attention. Plastic Surgeon’s FM National Sales Manager Mark McKay tells us that the average cost of repairing a door equates to less than 1% of replacing it, so the savings speak for themselves.
There’s also scope for assistance with window and external door repairs, where paint has been damaged or has weathered badly. One benefit of using a service like Plastic Surgeon’s is that it can minimise onsite disruption when compared with full-scale renovation work. This particular task is therefore something we’d need to see done at weekends due to eg the added fire risk from and potential adverse reactions to the solvents in the paint.
Additionally, and should the need arise, we’d be keen to see Plastic Surgeon’s skills on stone and concrete around our window ledges. There isn’t a need at present, but given Plastic Surgeon’s range of services and expertise it’s something we’d certainly look to push their way.
How does the work of Plastic Surgeon tie in with the business outlook at Tarmac?
At Tarmac we have a big focus on sustainability, for example, here at Granite House we have sent none of the waste created on this site (c.1.1m litres pa) to landfill in the past 3½ years, ie we recycle everything. The repair capabilities of Plastic Surgeon therefore fit exactly within our ethos of reducing waste.
On a wider industry note, what do you think are the key challenges within facilities management at the moment?
One big challenge is that of flexible working. Due to our excellent onsite facilities, we often have people hot desking, which sees the numbers in the office fluctuate. Particular issues arise when everyone is in at once!
Another challenge is thrown up by the pace of technological change, which can often leave eg building management systems behind. One thing that amazes me is the lack of compatibility between different manufacturers. The obvious reason behind it is to ensure users stay tied to a particular company’s services, so dealing with this also throws up challenges specific to facilities managers.
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