When you first meet Dave Chaggar you instantly relax. His easy-going demeanor and natural intelligence make you feel like you are meeting an old friend, even at first instance. It is these qualities, along with shrewd street smarts, that have ensured his remarkable successes over the years across a global playing field across diverse industries.
How it began
Dave was born in 1983 to parents of East African descent who moved to the UK when they were in their teens and started a business manufacturing automotive parts. Their clients included Nissan, Mercedes, BMW, Bentley and Toyota… to mention just a few. From his very early years, he was part of an entrepreneurial family unit, and was encouraged through all his early years, including school holidays, to participate in some form in the family-run enterprise. Dave, with his sporting acumen, went to Loughborough Grammar school and then went on to study a Masters in Economics at St Andrews in Scotland in the same year that Prince William joined the institution. He played rugby at school and county level squash, which helped develop his competitive mindset that came into play over the course of his very successful career. While he is grateful for the excellent education he received he realized, with time, that learning did not really prepare him for the realities of the business world. “It was a great start, but in no way did it reflect what I had to do out in the field, which in the industries I was in had a steep learning curve every time, and I often had to run to stay on my feet.”
The day after he graduated he joined the family business that, by this time, had operations across India, the UK, Romania and Turkiye. And there was no looking back for this ambitious young man from that point. Dave set up the division for after-market direct sales for Global Car Parts, the family enterprise. He was tasked with developing new markets and he quickly added names like Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen to the existing client pool.
It was around this time that he got married, at 24, and soon after secured the contract for General Motors in Australia. This required him to set up warehousing and distribution capabilities Down Under and he and his wife moved to the country to ensure that things got done the Dave way. Within two weeks they applied for residency and focussed their efforts on building up their market share in an entirely new world. He quickly had all the local companies signed up to his team, so to speak. In fact, within six months they were supplying 50% of the OEM automotive brands to Australia. When asked how he achieved this significant miracle of sales, Dave wryly says, “By politely asking for their annual volumes together with target prices, and then stating that if I did not secure the supply contract I would be obliged to develop and supply those products into the aftermarket.”
Dave’s son, Yuvraj, was born in Australia and this was a turning point in his life. Far away from the familiar, and from family, he decided to move back to the UK with his wife and son. Despite having grown up there it was still a culture shock, settling back into the UK, and soon after they returned, Dave became father again. This time it was a daughter, they named Saahiba. It was an overwhelming time for the young parents, with all the changes, two young children and helping run the family business. And it was at this time that opportunity knocked.
The power broker
Dave’s father-in-law acquired a 100 MW power plant in Tanzania and asked Dave to join the day-to-day operations of the business and help streamline operations. From a home office in the Midlands in the UK, he began travelling to Tanzania, via Dubai, once a month. The challenge was immense. “I knew nothing about this sector, and I had to learn fast,” he says looking back on that time of change and growth. There are precious few family-owned power plants on the planet and Dave, being the man he is, made sure he learned all he could from senior management and every source he could find to inform himself and leverage that knowledge to company advantage. After a point, the power plant had several business dealings operating out of Dubai as there were significant players in the country who were players and key suppliers into the power sector. The travel became more and more intensive and as a result, it made sense to relocate to Dubai to explore streamlining and handle procurement routes through the UAE. With Dave at the helm the business went from 65% operational availability factor to 90% efficiency in just six months.
Around this time they also began negotiating for a 500 MW expansion, and once again, Dave had to hit the road running. Here he was dealing with the VPs of GE, Siemens, MAN, Wartsila and the like, people who were way older than him in experience and industry knowledge, a select group who had a concept of Africa which was to charge the highest price possible. Dave needed to change this mindset and he set out in his singular fashion to do so. He used their own data to apply the necessary pressure and secure the best price possible for Tanzania. This included feasibility studies, negotiating with offtakers of the electricity board, and juggling between EPC and EPCM options to make the project viable.
As always, running a family-run business was challenging in all sorts of usual and unusual ways, and Dave learned that to stay in the game he had to be quicker, sharper, and more knowledgeable than the most experienced players in the industry. He had to learn to break boundaries and find new ways of doing things to keep a few steps ahead in order to make the right commercial decisions. Were there any setbacks along the way? “Of course,” says Dave, with a smile. “There were angles of failure, and I used them as learning lessons of what not to do. The mistakes were stepping stones to personal and professional growth for me.” As the youngest Director of Investments in the sector he found himself in, he had to meet all kinds of people and learn to handle situations deftly and build credibility as quickly as possible – a skill, nay, a knack, that helped him move onto where he is now. Dave’s natural inclination to explore new horizons led him to an exciting and fresh phase in his life.
Joining the club
After being a key-player in two mega industries, Dave was ready for a new take on life. His previous years had taught him that he was a good networker, he had an impressive ability to win over peers and to form strong connections. And this led to the Capital Club. Initiated by an Emirati friend, Dave was invited there and introduced to the son of the founder of ENOC. “Where would I meet someone of that stature, but here at the Capital Club,” says Dave, sitting in the patio of the plush building that is home to this exclusive establishment. The tall green plants play against the creamy colours of the walls, most of which boast a magnificent collection of fine artworks. In fact, most art galleries would be envious of the collection housed within these stately rooms that are filled with leather recliners and plush sofas. The understated elegance is reminiscent of an old gentleman’s club in London. And it is here that Dave has found his niche. He took over as Sales Director with the aim of positioning the club as the number one networking and business hub in the United Arab Emirates.
Covid took hold of the world soon after Dave took the helm and now with the world opening up again, he is looking at growing the membership base. He has already recorded a 30% growth in business and as the club grows in popularity under his leadership, Dave is looking at setting a cap on membership in the near future. The club currently attracts a high-profile list of members and is the space where multi-million dollar deals happen over a cigar, a conversation and a handshake. And herein lies Dave’s skill in making connections for people. “The key is connectivity, not just in a personal way, but understanding what are the unspoken needs of those who enter the doors, their pain points and what they are looking to achieve,” says Dave, who clearly understands that business connectivity has to be matched with unmatched privacy and security on all fronts. He beautifully sums this up saying, “While the UAE is a place of very high net worth players, it is also a very small place and maintaining that integrity is crucial to our members.” As a result the membership is carefully curated, and the results speak for themselves… A quick tour of the club shows you that this is a place of considerable soft power and the people are the who’s who of different industry verticals.
As with his other positions, Dave continues to learn here too. While his natural abilities as a connector have guided his course here, as before, he is learning to deal with a much larger pool of varied cultures and mindsets and built rapport faster than ever before. He stresses that nowhere has he learned better the incredible ‘power of referral’ and the weight it carries to drive a business forward. What he loves the most about his work here however, is that at the Capital Club, both the members and the staff feel like part of a “large, diverse and extended family”. And this has been one of Dave’s biggest motivations through his life and career. He has a single-minded determination to ensure that the Capital Club grows from strength to strength, much as he has, while he remains rooted in the basics that make him a quality human being.
Man of Values
Dave’s core foundation has been his family. From his father who inspired him with his entrepreneurial drive, to his wife and children, he is passionate about maintaining sound family values, as he himself was taught. For him, after his years of globe-trotting, the UAE is home. Nowhere else in the world has he encountered such energy or such a diverse mix of nationalities working together to build dreams in a city that is visionary in its daily application. His eyes light up with passion as he speaks of the UAE, and Dubai in particular. “I love the spark of this place. I want my children to see this as their future, the place that they will call home and where they will find and pursue a calling.” He firmly believes that multi-cultural ethos of the city and the country will help make his children more resilient, more tolerant of others as they grow up surrounded by differing identities, races, and religions. He definitely hopes to pass on his ambitious genes to both Yuvraj and Saahiba, and hopes they will experience, as many others have, the thrill of building their visions from scratch. He believes in the excellent education that is afforded to them in the country and the safety that is inherent to the values that drive the nation.
For Dave work and play have very blurred boundaries. His passion is connecting people and growing businesses, and his track record of successes speaks for itself. But when he is not wielding his business and personal acumen he enjoys being out and about, eating out, spending time on the beaches in the fine weather that is an almost everyday gift to those in the UAE. Has all the success changed him? Dave believes it has not. As a person he is a firm believer in staying grounded and practicing humility. This is something he has seen over and over in his various lines of work. “Those who are truly successful, all had that in common. They were humble and down-to-earth and took nothing for granted,” And thus Dave is a man who keeps his word, treats all he meets as equals and takes his work seriously enough to not let it overshadow his personal value system and code of ethics. He is a big believer in kindness and remaining humane, and when you meet him you instantly know this to be true.
Dave Chaggar functions effortlessly, both personally and professionally, as an energetic, enthusiastic lifelong learner on all fronts. Who has understood that professional and personal discretion go hand-in-hand, and that to excel as a connector of ideas, resources and people one must first connect the dots within oneself. His continuing story as an enabler of businesses, now has him known, within and beyond the confines of his plush workplace, unsurprisingly, as The Capital Connector. One can see why!