It is 27 years from when Major Manjit Rajain began the journey of Tenon — a `2,000-crore group with three verticals — Peregrine Guarding (flagship), Tenon Facility Management and Soteria. Tenon FM began at a time when facility services were manpower-based. This became a driving force for the young team that started the transformation to mechanisation and now IoT & AI based services. Leading from the top, Angad Rajain, Global CSO & Head-IFM, Tenon Group, Brigadier Rajan Oberoi, Global CEO of Tenon Group and Anuj Rajain, CEO, Soteria get candid about their journey from a novice to numero uno.
Initiating the journey of the Tenon Group with Peregrine Guarding, a popular service right from 1995, to entering into asset management through Tenon FM and then automation of all verticals, including Soteria in 2014, defines the growth curve with every milestone. Let’s take a walk down memory lane along with the makers of Tenon Group.
Angad Rajain: While working with global asset manager BlackRock in New York, I was briefly part of its real estate management team. At that time, there weren’t many outright property purchases happening; the focus was on improving the efficiency of one’s existing assets. That is where I learnt about facility management, which is all about optimally maintaining and utilising one’s real estate assets to maximise earnings.
The Indian FM industry back then was largely unorganised and manpower-centric, I saw an opportunity to transform this. After nine years abroad, I also wanted to come back home to India. Over seven years into my journey with Tenon, I’m happy that my dream of converting that opportunity into reality has come true.
Brigadier Oberoi: I was in the army for 35 years; my last appointment was as force commander of the National Security Guard (NSG). The Chairman of Tenon Group (Major Manjit Rajain) and I go back a long way; we belonged to the same regiment, where I was second-in-command and he was a young officer. When my NSG tenure came to an end, he approached me and asked if I’d like to be part of the Tenon Group. Well, it took me a little time to decide and in 2009, I joined in.
The office was in the same area where we are today, but much smaller, with just 40-50 personnel. I started off as MD of Peregrine; in 2014, our international board asked me to assume the position of Global CEO of Tenon Group, which is when I also started overseeing Tenon FM, and Soteria was founded. It has been a roller coaster ride since then; we acquired companies in Singapore and UK, and our revenue structure has also grown multi-fold since then.
Angad: I cut my teeth on working as a management associate in the Tenon CFO’s office. My boss and mentor let me go through a leadership management program for 8-9 months, where I spent time on the physical delivery of services at a client site.
I remember being in Bangalore for three months, learning about a single-disc scrubber one day. I had many questions: what is its output? how many man-hours does it save?… And then, around midnight I asked, can I give it a try? And I spent two hours operating it. These experiences have kept me in touch with ground reality even today.
Brigadier Oberoi: Everybody is reading the market; so are we. The difference is, we have been more proactive in our response to our analysis. To be frank, having Angad around – with his Yale experience and understanding of the market – really helped.
Angad: In the last 10 years, wages in India have doubled. Can we still deploy dozens of people to mop floors? So, we found more professional, more process-driven ways to achieve service standards without having to put hundreds of people on one job.
FM to IFM
Angad: Our team was undertaking housekeeping at all of a customer’s offices in India. This grew to include MEP, followed by managing the help desk (in nine languages) and the reception. We then offered food and water testing, and audits of the off-site facilities where their food is prepared. We started operating around 1,000 vehicles a day for their office shuttle. They kept asking us for help with their non-core services, and we kept stepping up. Our focus has always been on delivering services that fit the customer’s needs.
Brigadier Oberoi: Clients want their service provider to respond in real-time. Despite the size of our country, that is what we have managed to do. Our response mechanism is as rapid as that of a regional player. While issues are communicated to the top management, it never has to intervene as they are solved at the base level itself. If this is not possible, the next level immediately steps in. Ultimately, the client is very happy and feels indulged.
This is our USP; no matter how big or small they are, we make sure we indulge every client. Our senior management still has regular calls with clients, some of whom have been with us for the past 20 years.
Brigadier Oberoi: Digitisation and automation are revolutionising the way we work. Efficiency levels are rising, cost optimisation is happening and service delivery is seamless, approaching zero error syndrome.
With the apps we have developed, we can monitor exactly where 80,000 employees are, and what they’re working on. We are also working on digitalising the verification process for onboarding manpower.
Angad: We already provide about 20 conventional and 55 non-conventional FM services to our customers across India; we even manage the paint shop through which every unit manufactured by a premium car brand passes before it reaches the customer. We will add more such specialised services to our offerings; high-rise window cleaning is one service we will invest in.
Other than this, tech enablement will increasingly underscore every single aspect of Tenon’s operations not just in India, but anywhere in the world.