The Midel Group is more than a group of companies in the business of real estate and facilities management; it’s a hub of business communities. Composed of three arms: Midel Management, Midel Center and Midel Media, the innovative company is set to disrupt the Nigerian Real Estate industry through its common, yet, unusual strategy in an industry where bricks and mortar take high priority. That has been the secret to its success.
The Midel Group is nestled in a serene suburb in Abuja, one of the rapidly growing commercial developments in the FCT. Though in its nascent stages as a Group, the first company, Midel Management, was founded in 2008, focused on providing residential facilities management services. With the establishment of the other arms of the group, Midel Center, a rental office complex, and Midel Media, a business broadcasting organization, in addition to a founder’s gift for knowing what corporate and small business world needs, the company has recorded astonishing business success in one year as a group.
It’s about People not Products
The driving force behind the company is “excellence”. The Group CEO, Mrs. Eghogho Adoghe –Sanomi explains, “It’s not so much the packaged services we offer; it’s really the small things that people take for granted, that could go un-noticed that define excellence.” The Midel Group recognizes that to achieve such standards in Nigeria, they would have to pay more attention to detail. The company is committed to creating high standards of living and working environments that any client can compare with on a global level. As facility managers managing concrete assets of real estate and rendering facility services, part of the company’s objective is to ensure the proper operation of all aspects of the Group to create a healthy, safe and cost-effective environment in which occupants can function.
A common objective among facility management providers is to provide the perfect physical space for the convenience and comfort of the occupant. These occupants are usually composed of blue chip organisations that can afford the steep fees for a fashionable address and service fees that come with the outsourced maintenance. Although premium corporate clients form a significant aspect of the Midel Group’s business; however, they have built a diversified clientele base composed of small business start-ups. This can be attributed to the founder and CEO’s understanding of the challenges that face start-ups and creating services that an entrepreneur needs. Speaking on Midel’s motivation to support small start-ups, Mrs. Sanomi said, “Nigeria can be a challenging place to build a business. People and companies struggle with inadequate amenities to meet their many demands. And that is the goal of Midel Group; to ease and ensure that all our clientele are catered for.”
In Abuja, where politics is the industry, and businesses take a back seat, CEO, Eghogho Adoghe Sanomi has received her own share of battle scars from trying to build a business that she nearly lost. It was the Midel Center, which took seven years to build. During those years, she tried to ensure that she built a high quality office complex furnished with varying office sizes to suit any size of business from fourteen square meters (14sq) to cater to one person to one hundred and fifty square meters (150sq) for medium size organisations. But she faced a lot of challenges including financing, unstable government regulations and compromised contractors, and fortunately, she made headway.
Building a Business Community
The Midel Center, the second arm of the group, opened its doors to the public on June 1, 2013. In six months, seventy per cent of the office spaces were rented, and approximately thirty-five (35) organisations and businesses currently occupy the Center. The board and founder chose to build the Center in the Gudu area of Abuja, a relatively new vicinity, not quite developed. It was a huge gamble to build the Center in “a new commercial district that had only a few buildings and little infrastructure,” according to Mrs. Sanomi, “but we consider that decision part of our success and a huge achievement.”
The Midel Center experienced a gold rush with customers eager to rent its facilities. The secret behind the company’s high demand may be that The Midel Center offers compact services whereby all clients’ needs are met within the environment without cause to look elsewhere. Besides office spaces, the complex is fitted with custom training rooms and boardrooms and additional open spaces to rent for exhibitions. These would cost a fortune if rented separately, but all the additional facilities are the extra perks that come with renting an office space. Specifically, Midel Management offers various services such as soft security, landscaping, generator supply and maintenance, general maintenance of water, electrical, and plumbing amenities, janitorial services, realtor services. They also act as liaison agents between properties and local environmental agencies, and consult on health, safety and environmental issues.
Another edge for The Midel Center is its competitive rental rates. In 2013, The Economist magazine ranked Abuja as one of the top four cities with the highest cost of living in Africa. The city is also notorious for skyrocket rent on commercial spaces. However, the management of the Center pegged its rental fees only after a thorough realistic evaluation of the market in that vicinity to ensure it meets the financial viability of its clients. This came as a relief to organisations, especially those with long-term business plans and adhered to a strict budgets. The third unique fact about the Center is its focus on not just selling space, but deliberately promoting resident businesses to benefit from one another through networking events.
The CEO, Mrs. Eghogho Adoghe Sanomi explains the reason for this sort of service: “We are dedicated to easing the burdens of entrepreneurs in Abuja, and promoting the entrepreneurship sector in Nigeria. We strongly believe that the sector adds enormous value to the economy of any country by creating jobs, advancing innovation and adding to community development. This is the ethos of The Midel Center and indeed the Midel Group.”
She further commented on the benefits of the networking services Midel Center offers, “The vision behind the Center is not just to provide a perfect work environment, but create a networking platform for start-ups and SMEs. It’s aimed at closing the communication gap between organisations. The Midel Center set out to initiate a superb business community where professionals can rent office spaces and at the same time, participate in corporate opportunities to enhance their businesses.”
Resident organisations have been carefully selected to form the perfect business blend for a conducive networking environment. Sanomi explains, “Our periodic network forums are the perfect platform for our resident organisations and visitors to gain wider market access and promote their products and services, giving them the opportunity for advancement.”
Selling Value not Rental Space
The one constant feedback that the company has received from its clients from its surveys to improve services is the word “Trust”. Resident clients trust the level of service that Midel offers, handled by capable and dedicated staff. What’s more, the company did not rely on traditional marketing in the beginning; rather, the high occupancy rate is as a result of client testimonies, and majorly “word of mouth promotion”. Sanomi further says, “Most of our residents and visitors emphasize on the tranquil environment and, this has been the selling point for the building.”
Eghogho Adoghe Sanomi also attributes the success of her staff to the company’s culture, “Our culture at Midel is ‘high quality service deliverance through teamwork’ and this is done by staff sharing knowledge through training and active bonding exercises. They know that their contributions are highly valued.”
The Midel Group understands the shortcomings of business like theirs – amenities begin to fall into disuse and dis-respair for lack of maintenance – and equip staff with the adequate skills and leadership to avoid such occurrences. Sanomi explains further: “Each member of staff belongs to a specified department and sometimes departments have sub groups. This helps to identify strong and weak points in the organization. Each department strives to be the best in the organization while remembering that we are all chain-linked and cannot thrive without the other. This concept helps tremendously in identifying and encouraging deficient departments and employees by promoting mentorship by stronger colleagues.”
According to Eghogho Adoghe Sanomi, “Times have changed on how facilities are managed. It isn’t just about erecting buildings, it’s also about how those buildings and resident businesses handle the economic, societal and environmental impacts that they have on the environment, and that is why Midel Group has adopted as its Corporate Social Responsibility, initiatives to push environmental awareness.”
The Midel Center’s initiative aimed at promoting environmental awareness is called GreenDel. The company recognises that to go on the path of advocacy alone would be futile; therefore it has formed a collaboration with the resident clients in its home and work spaces. This involves residents and visitors making small changes to their home and corporate lifestyles, for the well-being of their community. The Center’s initiative involves collecting the accumulated waste, recycling and sending off to a local recycling plant, and further to small businesses that use them for manufacturing purposes. The company encourages clients to segregate their waste into recycle bins collected for paper, plastic, metal and other types of wastes. This is collected every week by the Midel Center’s partners.
In addition, the company is invested in promoting sustainable use of energy and is dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of the building. Therefore, the Center has invested in Solar panels which power street lights as well as the external lights of the building at night to reduce energy costs and decrease air pollution the generators may produce within these hours. Residents are also encouraged to manage power efficiently. They are provided individual pre-paid meter system to control their usage and accumulated fees, which compels them to manage their power and curtail waste. In the end, the resident businesses enjoy lower overhead costs and a clean environment that ensures high productivity and profitability as a result of these initiatives. Further, the company is committed to saving and managing water, and currently has a Rainwater Harvesting Project, whereby rainwater is accumulated, purified, and reused within the premises. This is an on-going initiative to reduce water consumption.
Poised for the Future
The media arm of the group is still in start-up phase, but is strategically been managed to ensure it ties into the already existing company values and benefits for clients. For Midel Group, it is poised for the future to ensure that it evolves with the global industry practices, by embracing innovation and change. Their overriding belief that the combination of the Nigerian Real Estate industry and the entrepreneurship sector can shape the new way businesses are established and operated. This entails starting a business where profit making will be considered secondary and adding value to our community and clients primarily.
According to the report, “Facility Management Market by Solutions & Services – Worldwide Market Forecasts and Analysis (2014-2019)”, the facilities management market is projected to grow by $43.69 Billion globally by 2019. This industry constantly evolves, and in the last decade has assumed a Human Resources and Business Development role. The industry is not only about assets anymore, it’s about people – providing well-managed facilities and services to enable businesses and corporations to function effectively and thrive.
As CEO, Eghogho Sanomi defines it: “At Midel, our purpose is to enhance the principles of entrepreneurship. Our residents don’t just pay rent, they reinvest in their enterprises and gain the advantage of a serene and fully functioning work environment where they can focus and produce optimally. The Midel Group inducts clients into an exclusive community network where they can create new alliances and improve their businesses with us.”
Eghogho Adoghe Sanomi’s Guardian page snapshot: