Forever Us – Chris and Sarah Howard

Post 1313 of 1734
  • Dave Courtnell & Sarah Howard

  • Jose Santiago

In a world for of ‘I’s’, very few look at the ‘we’s’. Here are some couples that have taken the ‘we’ from personal to professional and have grown stronger together. They have loved each other,
fought for one another and risen above it all to succeed as partners made in heaven

Chris & Sarah Howard

Howdra Employment Services and
Howdra Maintenance & Cleaning LLC

Established in Dubai by David Courtnell & Chris Howard – in 2005, Howdra Maintenance and Cleaning LLC was created out of a growing need to take advantage of business opportunities presented by the UAE’s growing economy. Dave states, “We as a family came to Dubai 12 years ago (with my wife, daughter and son in law) from the UK (Kent) to visit a friend for his 40th birthday. While we were here we learned of many opportunities in Dubai: the situation in UK and Europe was not the best one, having many foreigners coming to UK and taking over the whole system and we were considering leaving UK. We returned to UK and as a family we sat down and discussed the opportunities that Dubai could offer us as a family and 12 – 18 months later we came to Dubai and started a cleaning and maintenance company and in late 2014 we applied for a New Trade Licence as an employment agency. My daughter and son in law came one month before us. We took advantage of the building and construction boom.”

“The idea of starting a business (Howdra Maintenance and Cleaning LLC), was to take advantage of the building boom and business opportunities in Dubai utilizing both myself and Chris’s experiences in the building industries, so in 2005 we came in advance and we followed through once we had settled all the necessary red tape back in the UK. At the time of starting the business we all lived in the same house to reduce our costs while we were working on growing the venture,” he adds.

When we started in 2005, it was my son in law, my daughter, my wife and five employees plus myself. Over the following eight years we enhanced our knowledge and skills of the Middle East and grew our business to what it is currently today. Today, 10 years on, Howdra has reached a milestone with zero debt, turnover of AED 20 million and a staff of 500. From a 70 square foot and one member of office staff they have now spread over approximately 2200 square feet with currently an office staff of 13.

A successful business needs communication, the ability to change and adapt and complementary set of skills and should offer a first class service. And with being a British family a lot of expats prefer to do business with them. Determination and commitment to the family to make it a success is of prime importance too. So does communication, getting along well and listening to each other’s point of views without being biased.

“Chris and myself have very similar thinking patterns. It is also important to complement each other since each of us has different skill sets that enhance one another,” says Dave. While Dave Courtnell, as the CEO, runs the day-today business, Chris Howard is the Director of Business Development and Sarah Howard is the Company Secretary. As Sarah puts it succinctly, “Get help in terms of local ‘how things are done in here’, plan your financials but double whatever figure you thought of, understand the culture, the system, the work ethic and always remember to leave work in the office and not take it home.” Their daughter is now Company PA to Dave and Chris and Sarah has retired.

By Jose Santiago

February is a very special month for Jose Santiago. It is a month of joy, passion, love and flirting. But most of all, it is his month. You wonder why? Because back in 1963, a young man met a lovely woman on a campus and said to her, “You are astonishingly beautiful!” She turned to him and said, “Do I know you?” A few months later, they were married and nearly two years on, they had a baby boy, their first child. This baby was born on Valentine’s Day and was none other than Jose. “Love produces miracles. Maybe this is why I’m always in love,” says Jose.


Photographs by: Sarfaraz Ali Photography