Kalandoor, Founder and Chairman Image Credit: Gulf News

The Kalandoor Group of Companies excels at new-build, design and fit-out, construction, refurbishment, and engineering and design coordination. Founder and chairman, Kalandoor, built his eponymous empire brick by brick, and in carefully measured pace, extending from the UAE to the rest of the GCC.

Some 20 years later, this rock solid foundation on terra firma is figuratively taking to the skies, with planned expansions and new territories. A conversation with the astute yet affable owner reveals what it takes to be a captain of industry, and how to lead the market in large measure.

Scale and scope

“What seems like a very long time ago, we worked as project managers for interior-fit out companies,” Kalandoor says. “We often relied on third-party suppliers for services and supplies, but too often we were let down by them.”

To address the twin issues of quality control and on-time delivery, he started planning and building in-house facilities for all their primary needs. The small-scale project was extended over the years into a full-fledged backward integration programme, adding in new aspects along the way.

Today, the Group has fully equipped business units for all aspects of their service and product offerings: glass, aluminium and wood works, joinery, and fabrication – all overseen by independent design, research, and quality control cells.

Concept to creation

“Sometimes, we work with creative designers who have a ‘dream’ or a ‘vision’ that is only visible in their imagination. Our task is to see what they see, and bring it to life - painstakingly but perfectly,” he explains. “At other times, we receive comprehensive style guides and operating manuals from international retailers, and we ensure that every detail is delivered, be it a rare colour, an uncommon texture, or an unusual demand.

“We are also invited to create spaces with an open brief, and that is when our designers have a field day,” he smiles.

Driven by unreal concepts, precise requirements, or carte blanche creativity, the Kalandoor portfolio is as stunning to behold, as it does in bearing testament to their success. Their handiwork may not be blatant or labelled, but it is discreetly visible at many small boutiques, large retail stores, giant supermarkets, luxury homes, offices and meeting spaces across the country – and beyond.

Perfect and professional

Operating out of their offices in Dubai and Riyadh, The Kalandoor Group of Companies has built an enviable client roster, and delivered more than 2,000 mega projects in the GCC region, alongside several hundred smaller ones. These names include Damas, Diesel, Massimo Dutti, Sun and Sand Sports, Sharaf DG, Virgin Megastore and Zara Home, among others.

“In our business, there are simply no second chances. We have to get it right the first time – and we have to get it right every time.”

On time, on budget

More importantly, most of their clients have either stayed with them throughout the last two decades, or returned to them every time they had new requirements. “Quality and punctuality are equally important. Delivering what our clients need, in the time allotted to us, is what brings them back to us.”

Confidentiality and discretion should be important in any business, he avers, and we are privy to closely guarded information like unlimited budgets, secretive launches, and vanity projects. “We keep it guarded. Likewise, we don’t distinguish one client from the other in terms of size, scale or style.” Every client is important, every project is very important, he emphasises.

He also marks the distinction between confidence and confidentiality: “We don’t talk about our clients, we wait for them to talk about us instead.”

Home-grown, hand-picked

Having built a handsome portfolio and a sterling reputation to match, Kalandoor is not one to rest on any laurels. A third office in the Far East is imminent for launch, and a corporate restructuring and expansions are well underway. The home ground of the UAE continues to be a focus point though. The Group’s new domestic remit includes bespoke interiors for uber luxury homes, private yachts, and large meeting spaces.

“We are grateful to all the rulers of this great nation. It is their vision that spurs us and supports us. Just look at what businesses here enjoy in terms of safety, security, technology, infrastructure, and international workforce. In turn, we have an obligation to be good corporate citizens, and bring greater glory to this country.”

Extra miles, smiles

After starting small in Riyadh, Kalandoor set up operations in Dubai, based on a client’s special request for a project to be overseen in Abu Dhabi. He has grown his business from small consultancy to giant corporation, employing more than 500 employees he treats as family members.

Such is his faith in his people – and the people they serve – that he demurs from using any other name but Kalandoor. “Your name earns you respect and reputation. It is everything,” he says. ●