Steven Curbelo, a former stay-at-home father, started his small Abu Dhabi-based business because he was concerned about his six-year-old son’s health.
“Basically my son started getting sick and we didn’t know why,” says the American owner of Brooklyn General Maintenance, an air-conditioning cleaning company that focuses on health and quality of air.
The company uses an innovative “fog technology”, which enables the firm 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, 48, says has eased his son’s condition.
“We brought him to a couple of doctors, who gave us medicine and antibiotics,” he says. “Finally we went over to a German doctor and he said it could be the AC.”
After watching his building’s maintenance company cursorily wash and replace the filter on his AC, Mr Curbelo was convinced that there was more work to be done.
He removed the air-conditioning components himself, thoroughly cleaning them and the area around the unit. The reward came soon afterwards with an improvement in his son’s condition.
After posting the results on social media, Mr Curbelo, who moved to the UAE in September 2010, was inundated by requests from friends in the capital to do the same for them.
And the idea of starting up a small business specialising in deep cleaning air-conditioning units and the duct work around them was born.
“It’s a problem which affects so many people in Abu Dhabi and the UAE,” Mr Curbelo says. “It starts with the construction process. Builders tend to leave the air conditioning ducts open while they are in the middle of their work, so the ducts pick up dust which then compacts and forms silt in the bottom of air- conditioning trays and tends to attract algae and mould. Then the system blows that same mould back into your home.”
The company, which launched in January last year, now employs five staff and in its first year of trading made an annual revenue of Dh300,000.
Six months ago it introduced the fog technology, which uses a device to send dry fog rapidly and safely into the inner workings of an air-conditioning unit, to disinfect and clean at the same time.
Mr Curbelo says the technology is widely used in other parts of the world. Although he admits there is no hard evidence to quantify the exact health benefits of his work in Abu Dhabi, he says the business has taken off thanks to word-of-mouth referrals from happy clients which include Jigsaw Nursery’s two Abu Dhabi locations as well as a number of schools and homes.
The company hopes to secure more work in schools and hospitals over the coming year.
“I started this company with only myself and a ladder. Within a year, I have grown into a fully running company that is bringing quality services throughout the emirate,” said Mr Curbelo, who owned a construction and remodelling company in New York before taking up full-time care of his son.
“Our overall plan is to grow and change the standard of our health in regards to air. We hope to ensure that all young children are given the chance to breathe healthily.”
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