Jerry Gallagher is well known amongst the expat community with lots of secrets that have led to his success. As a British builder for over 22 years, he came to Dubai almost 11 years ago to help build terminal 3 and to teach the guys/workers to learn to plaster walls and ceilings in the same way a building company in the UK, France or Germany would, “Once the Terminal was finished, I went into the Fit out game in which I was the General Manager for a company here in Dubai, which was a great opportunity for me to learn the business angle. Fast-forward 2 years and I left to set up GTS-Renovations. I haven’t looked back since. It has been nonstop and hard work but it has been fun!” said Jerry when we met him at his office in Dubai Marina.
Over 22 years you must have experienced some ups and downs…
When I set up GTS-Renovations, it was hard to get a project, as GTS is just new company. We started to take on small projects with not much profit just to get a name in the market. This is tough as your margins are small, but slowly you can look to increase these.
A revenue stream that has surprised me is the one where we very often are called in to repair the damage that has been done by other businesses – Normally on quotes that we had originally lost. These clients are often some of our most challenging, not just because repairing things may hamper the deadline that the client has set their heart on – which we are upfront about when taking over the work from another company – but also because they are so emotionally invested in their home/office. In the end though, these are some of our best clients as they appreciate that the work will be done on a time agreed by us both and to the spec that they have realised in the process that they expect. We get lots of referrals from their recommendations.
How did you know GTS would be such a huge success?
Because we came to the table with something different and based on my experience as a builder, I wanted to bring the UK methods and standards here in the UAE which give us an edge over the competition. People appreciate it so when I started to get calls following recommendations by clients, I knew we had the formula right.
You seem to be the go-to company for expats that are looking to renovate their homes and offices. Why is this?
Many of our clients have experienced contractors who do not provide a good service in regards to meetings, quotations, drawings, response times to questions and generally acting in a professional manner. As I said before, we often repair damage because other companies are not honest on what can be done to the properties… This is a huge learning curve for many people as they can then appreciate that actually what GTS told them is true. Honesty and good customer service have ensured that we have an excellent reputation throughout the UAE.
What’s important to you and your business?
Customer Service and honoring our word is key – If my team tell someone I will call them back that day, they will get a phone call from me. Most importantly when we say we will meet a deadline then we meet the deadline. I can’t do that alone and have been very lucky in building a very reliable and strong team.
Aside from me, I have a core team of Jeofrey our Operations Manager, who is responsible in the office, all GTS employees, and day-to-day business operations of the company. I am also passionate about equal opportunities, especially in this male dominated business and am lucky to have found two excellent and highly experienced female designers who take care of all our projects designs and drawings, estimates/BOQ. I work very closely with Karen and Salve to ensure that they have the confidence (by reminding them of their experience and how good their work is) to ensure that their designs are followed onsite. This is unheard of in our industry and I am very proud that as a business we have women who are empowered enough to do this.
Last, but absolutely not least is Julius, our Project Supervisor. Without him calling the shots, giving instructions to our Foremen, and assigning the distribution and the correct building materials that we need to each of our 28 workers in all our projects, we would go no where and I wouldn’t be able to meet deadlines.
All of those that work for me work very hard. I like to reward with them with great pay and bonus packages, as well team nights/days out. If any of the team building is too ‘blokey’ I will find a little additional something for the girls so they too can be pampered.
What does your business day look like?
We always start early in the office and around 7:15am we have a morning meeting and plan for the day. Then for me it’s out to site to check the team and the progress of works. We work 6 days a week, sometimes 7 if we have a deadline to meet. I tend to finish work 7pm but am often on my phone in the evenings. I try to play golf on Fridays as a bit of downtime.
What do you think has been your secret to success?
The secret behind GTS’ success is the quality and finishing of our works, providing good service and feeding honest information to the clients. We keep to a strict program that we give to all our clients at the start of each job. None of this would be possible without having a great team with the same determination as mine to succeed.
Who do you most admire in business and why?
I don’t admire any one particular businessman… I admire anyone who opens up a business here in the UAE and who is a success in their own field, as I know how hard they have worked to reach it.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and from whom?
My father taught me to wake up every morning and work hard. If you do that you will always succeed.
What do you think the secret of your success is?
There is no secret and shortcut to success. It takes a lot of hard work, experience and strong determination to grow as a company and to establish a good name in the market – Just keep going.
You can contact Jerry Gallagher on +971 (0)506591487 | email@example.com
To find out more about how Jean Charles Hameau grew his multinational import/export business, read our interview here