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The evolution of building management and maintenance.

The recession of the late 1980's precipitated widespread outsourcing of services, especially those beyond a company's core competency. It gave special impetus to the facility maintenance industry, a market of more than $882 billion that has been growing about 7 percent a year.

In the prosperous 1990's, the need for outside services continues to grow, with companies seeking to consolidate contracts to work with a single source provider to gain efficiencies of both time and money.

The current economy is, however, adding several important new twists to relationships with outsourcing companies. As the new economy allows for higher rents, there is a new competition for tenants. In turn, this requires that buildings improve their presence in the marketplace with upgrades in maintenance and a renewed attention to both lobbies and tenant spaces.

"There is an increased interest in viewing the commercial building as an asset, and a significant interest in working with an outsourcing company that can function as a partner with ownership, working in tandem toward improving the value of that asset," says Jan Kaupas, president of Remco of New York City, the 70-year-old metal, stone and wood restoration and maintenance division of Omni Facility Resources, Inc.

"We are now doing far more than maintaining spaces such as marble lobbies. We are working constantly to upgrade the way the materials are maintained to create an outstanding image," adds Kaupas. The renewed interest in quality allows the artisans at Remco to fully utilize skills in stone, architectural metals and wood achieved over three generations of experience.

Omni Facility Resources, Inc., headquartered in South Plainfield, NJ, represents a new breed of facility maintenance company that is responding to this new direction in the commercial real estate marketplace. Founded by Betty Browne, formerly vice president of ISS International Service System, Omni unites under one corporate identity expert companies in six different fields of specialty maintenance, including mechanical/electrical maintenance, operations and maintenance engineering, air filter sales and replacement services, commercial and industrial janitorial, landscaping and food plant sanitation, in addition to stone and metal maintenance.

"In founding Omni, we chose specialty maintenance service companies that are at the top of their field," explains Bettina Browne, president and CEO of Omni Facility Services. "By bringing together only the best companies, we are able to deliver consistently superior services as a single source provider."

Computers Join the Team

Kaupas also points to increased access to information as a key change in industry that is directing a new trend in property management. With computerization, maintenance schedules, staffing and achievement can be planned, documented and shared with customers.

"The availability of detailed information on each building provides us with the ability to direct customer-focused maintenance programs," explains Kaupas. "In addition, it has significantly increased the focus on achievement and on accountability, again pointing to the need to create working partnerships between building owners and outsourcing companies."

MainTech, located in New Jersey, is Omni's division for HVAC and mechanical maintenance. The ISO 9002-certified firm has bucked the trend of buying off-the-shelf computerized maintenance management systems, and taken the initiative to create its own proprietary system. Unlike off-the-shelf systems, which are designed to generate work orders, MainTech's tracks labor at each site, so that staff can be utilized effectively in terms of number and expertise. The computer program is customized for each new client and meticulously maintained by a fully-trained MainTech expert.

Ron Miller, MainTech executive vice president, points to the important changes stimulated by these new information resources. "We can look at each customer as a whole to make sure that our staff is cross-trained to meet the specific requirements and that our experts are then properly assigned to each area of maintenance," says Miller. "The availability of a database of information on each customer and each property let both customer and contractor know exactly what was done, helping to predict future schedules and increase our precision in future estimates."
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Title Annotation:Omni Facility Resources Inc.; Building Management & Maintenance
Author:Madonick, Nora
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Sep 15, 1999
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