The IBS (International Building Services) Group celebrates 20 years at the top of the entertainment production industry in Dubai, having gained a solid reputation for building ambitious bespoke sets, providing detailed and elaborate décor as well as specialist draping and soft goods.
The company is headed by Alan Scoley and embraces all types of events … from high profile corporate activations to live performances, cultural shows to conferences and exhibitions to lavish weddings.
There are three directors in addition to CEO Alan … Scott Davies, Nigel Smith and Terry Murtha. Alan is the only one involved in the daily operation, while Terry is busy heading up UK based drapes, soft goods, video and special FX S+H Technical Services together with other ventures.
Twenty years ago, they had a collective hunch that Dubai had all the ingredients to become a major player in the world of events. Their vision and willingness to take some risk and make key commitments has clearly paid off, as the company has thrived over two decades and robustly survived the economic dips.
Over the same time period Dubai has expanded dramatically, become a pulsating global metropolis and epicentre for events of all types – sporting, cultural, corporate and industrial etc.
IBS now has 86 full time employees bringing a dynamic mix of international cultures, vibrancy and energy to an impressive office and warehouse facility in Dubai’s Investment Park. This is fully owned and has been customised to meet current needs and maximise an efficient and streamlined operation.
When IBS first set up in Dubai 1996, there were fewer international companies and although the event business was not as well developed as it is now … the competition was not as intense!
From the outset, Alan and the team strove to set the highest standards – from the precision and quality of their work to the welfare of their staff … a long term strategy that has paid off and been combined with a stable and committed workforce with opportunities offered for training, specialising and working in different areas and at different levels.
Rigorous health & safely regimes have been implemented and developed. At every stage of commercial growth, the goal has been to remain inclusive and inspirational to those making the company rock.
Deciding on a steady, almost organic, growth pattern has bolstered the success. IBS didn’t over invest or get tangled up in hasty and crippling finance deals, which meant that 12 years later when the GFC hit Dubai in 2008 they were in good shape to withstand the shockwaves, consolidate, keep calm … and carry on!
Being well established in the area by that time was an additional consistency factor at a time of great economic uncertainly, and one that helped IBS remain relatively unscathed in 2011 when business started to reenergise and regain buoyancy.
“The strong will always survive” comments Alan “and right through this rough period we still retained clients who came to us wanting good quality sets and reliable service rather than cut price packages”.
At the core of IBS’s set up now is a creative project management team and a design and costings department who work in unison on quotes and ensuring that both the expectations and budgets of each project – and client - are managed coherently and realistically.
A compelling sense of corporate responsibility is evident. All staff have contracts and houses, transport and healthcare plus a clothing allowance for work, with regular freelancers also looked after properly and appropriately. Everyone is equally valued whether they are cleaners, drivers from the transport department, in creative or management.
Staff talents – carpentry, painting, metalwork, etc. - are encouraged and nurtured as skilled transferable trades that can be taken and used anywhere in any scenario. Investing in the right people with the right attitude and creating a working environment that is comfortable and invigorating has manifested great results for IBS over the years.
Project wise there have been numerous highlights!
Stand-out moments include the colourful “Summer in Abu Dhabi” Festival in 2010 - a pop-up theme park built in Hall 11 of the Expo centre, with IBS contributing much of the décor and finishing.
There have been multiple National Day celebrations – each year the production designs get more complex and memorable, with IBS usually required to produce a good chunk of the set and décor build work.
IBS delivered set and décor for the “Mother of the Nation” event earlier this year, and also in 2016, working for production company Imagination, some serious ingenuity and magic was required to make one of the new Jaguar F-Pace SUVs travel right through the second floor of Fortnum & Mason for its Dubai launch!
And the mind-boggling projects continue … alongside the more standard bread and butter work on conferences and awards ceremonies.
Alan comments that clients – a lively mix of production companies, advertising and communications agencies – still keep coming with grand and sometimes slightly crazy ideas … for which their job is to make workable.
For 20 years in the business, Alan is still as keen, enthusiastic and passionate as he was on day one, a vibe that filters through the whole company keeping the expectation and interest high. “As long as we are being challenged to come up with new and imaginative solutions it’s a constant learning process … and that’s what keeps driving all of us as an entity forward”.
A great tribute to IBS, its operational philosophy and the pervasive teamwork was winning the 2016 ILEA Award earlier in the year, presented by the International Live Events Association.
IBS’s business extends much wider than the UAE, spanning the whole of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region and greater Middle East. They also deliver goods and services to ME based clients working on shows, conferences and exhibitions across Europe, so the company is fully international.
Right now, looking towards 2020 and the World Expo which will put Dubai further on the map, so already the next decade is promising to be interesting, diverse and refreshing for IBS with plenty of opportunities for expansion.
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