#UAEinnovators: Brooklyn General Maintenance air-conditioning cleaning firm adds more services to profile
It has been a tough year for Steven Curbelo, the proprietor of Abu Dhabi-based air conditioning cleaning company Brooklyn General Maintenance.
Recognised in 2015 by The National’s readers as one of the top #UAEinnovators in business, the former stay-at-home father started his small company two years ago because he was worried that his six year old son was suffering from mould and bacteria in his building’s air-conditioning vents.
The firm wins most of its business by using an innovative “fog technology”, which enables it to spray a dry fog – a mixture of disinfectant and water – into hard-to-reach crevices to kill harmful mould and bacteria – a technique Mr Curbelo says eased his son’s condition.
But with oil prices in a lull affecting the investment climate and a number of major Abu Dhabi employers axing staff, Mr Curbelo, who came to the city with his teacher wife, says the past 12 months have been tough for the fledgling business.
“Lots of people have been leaving. At one point my wife was worried for the future of her job,” said Mr Curbelo, a 49-year- old American. “We thought that’s it, it’s been good but we’ll have to head back to the US.”
Nonetheless, the company is growing steadily with profit up around 3 per cent compared with a year earlier, Mr Curbelo estimated. He has also innovated his business offering to ensure the company can keep growing even in a difficult trading climate.
As well as air-conditioning cleaning, Mr Curbelo says that Brooklyn General Maintenance has now branched out into landscaping by teaming up with another UAE-based handyman business.
And, Mr Curbelo, a bonsai aficionado in his spare time, is attempting to add an Abu Dhabi- inspired twist to his landscaping work.
So far Mr Curbelo said he has done two jobs for clients where he has provided netting around expensive plants like old olive trees so that they can be dug up again when the client moves on.
“People can spend thousands of dirhams on landscaping a villa here,” he says. “And then, at the end of the day if you have to leave, you’ve lost all that money. What we’re trying to do is to put netting around the roots of the major plants so if you move on, you can either take it with you or sell it on.”
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