Wednesday, Mar 19, 2008
FRASER VALLEY - Falcon Equipment Ltd. has been flying high as the largest installer and seller of truck mounted equipment in the province.
The company is headed to a whole new level with yet another expansion, this time with a new 10-bay facility to supplement its current six bays.
Falcon was founded in 1988 by Howard Hartin and Richard Kielan who had many years experience in the industry between them before they decided to start their own company. They immediately picked up the Hiab and National Crane lines, considered world leaders in the field.
Falcon installs and sells articulating and stiff boom cranes, snow removal equipment, bin transfer systems – anything that mounts on a truck that is hydraulic powered. The company also services what it sells and is the leader in providing Hiab articulating and National stiff boom cranes and related equipment throughout B.C. and designated market areas worldwide.
Sales manager Blair Norberg explains that Falcon has a team approach to sales, service and continued product expansion and it is that approach that has contributed to its reputation as a company that stands on its integrity.
Tim Woolley, branch manager of the new Prince George location at 4663 Banzer Drive credits much of the success of the company and its guiding philosophy to the original founders.
“Rick has an uncanny ability to make friends. He’s one of those people you meet who is a genuine person with a big heart,” Woolley says. “He always enters into things with the best of intentions and Howard is just a good natured person who takes pride in doing what he does. And there has always been a tremendous amount of pride involved in the products that Falcon puts together.”
In fact, Hartin, the director and service manger of the company, never fails to take photographs of each new truck when it is fi nished and leaves the driveway.
“Just because it makes him happy to see it,” Woolley says. Norberg points out that Falcon is a pioneer in the truck crane business in British Columbia. A vast number of industries buy Falcon trucks and equipment, and the company has a solution for just about any truck equipment used. Norberg says their biggest customer is the construction industry although their clients include the oil industry, aquaculture and mining.
“Being part of this big B.C. construction boom, it’s been a real catalyst for us to take our business to the next level,” he says.
Service is a big part of going to the next level, he adds. “We try to over-service our customers. There have been times in the past where we haven’t been able to service our customers to the level that we wanted to just because we were too busy."
That problem was solved with the company’s new building outfi tted with 10 new services bay dedicated to new installations. The previous six bays are now held strictly for servicing existing installations. In addition, the company leased another building a few years ago where it fabricates its own fl at decks. Falcon is now producing about 130 decks a year. Almost every one for those decks leaves the shop with a crane installed.
Even before the new facility was open, Falcon was already considering expansion to new branch offi ces. At the same time, employee Tim Woolley was looking for a move. It was a piece of serendipity.
Woolley joined the company in 2000 because he wanted to get out of the automotive industry where he worked as a technician. He recalled working with one of Falcon’s products years before and decided that was the company he wanted to work for, not just because he wanted to hanlde bigger equipment but also because of the quality of the product.
Woolley did his heavy equipment apprenticeship with Falcon Equipment. After working with them and commuting to work for a couple of years, Woolley left to work in the commercial transport fi eld. He was back within a year. He says he missed everything about the company.
“They treat their employees with respect and they treat each other with respect. I found that appealing. There was a certain element missing with the other company. I didn’t have the sense of achievement and accomplishment there. And Falcon has the people to back it up – it makes all the difference in the world.”
From technical work, Woolley moved into administration. Then, in 2006, before his children were ready to enter school, Woolley and his wife decided to move out of the big city. They wanted a small city life for their kids. After doing a tremendous amount of research, they settled on Prince George, not just because it offered what they wanted for their family, but because Woolley thought he might be able to convince Falcon to open a branch offi ce to service its northern clients.
Falcon has a salesman, Terry Friess, who has been based out of 70 mile for the past few years to help support the Prince George branch and customers throughout the Cariboo.
The company agreed and in September 2007, Woolley’s business partner Denny Weicker, who has over 10 years experience with various truck mounted equipment, moved up to get the shop ready. A month later Woolley arrived and they opened for business.
The first three months were hard work, Woolley says. They were the new people in town and they spent most of their time getting to know the businesses in the community.
“We were trying to fi gure out what void we could fi ll,” he says. “We also didn’t want to come in and cause any upset so we took the approach of where is the void we can fi ll to help the people who are here.”
In January the business took off, Woolley says. “We started off wondering, ‘What are we going to do today’ and now we’re saying, ‘Holy smokes – how are we going to get this done by Monday?’”
Woolley calls the trend “very encouraging.” Business is picking up every day and the future in Prince George looks golden. The entire region is experiencing tremendous growth, he says.
Norberg is just as optimistic about Prince George.
“Prince George is the centre of BC,” he says. “We’ve got a large customer base located in Fort St. John and the northern areas and it’s a lot faster for them to get service from Prince George than going all the way down to the Lower Mainland. And with the new port in Prince Rupert, we think it’s going to be a pretty busy region in the years to come.”
The Prince George branch also lines up with another Falcon Equipment division, Falcon Shuttlewagon Rail Cars, equipment that shuttles boxcars along the railway track. Norberg say he foresees more need for that with the new port in Prince Rupert.
Over the years Falcon Equipment Ltd. has strived to maintain its market share with various elite equipment lines. The company has contracts with big companies throughout the province such as BC Hydro, Canex Building Supplies, Convoy, CP Rail, Rona and Eagle West.
“There aren’t too many companies in the industry that we haven’t dealt with at some point in time,” Norberg says.
The success of the Prince George branch has convinced the company that farther expansion will defi nitely be on the books for the future.
“It’s an issue of regulated growth so the way can properly support the lines that we take on,” Norberg says.
He expects the company to keep growing and to keep being successful. The elements that have brought the company this far are solidly in place. First, he says is service and second is installing and selling the best products in the country. Third is the staff with the know-how to support the product.
“This is where we’ve been able to excel – with product support.” The company also works hand in hand with the Workers’ Compensation Board to keep up to date on new crane standards and the operator certifi cation brought forth by the B.C.A.C.S. This, combined with their National Safety Mark, keeps the company on the leading edge in regards to new legislation and safety standards. Safety is key.
Falcon Equipment Ltd. plans to celebrate the grand opening of its new 10-bay facility this summer. Norberg says he expects many more causes for celebration over the coming years.
Falcon Equipment Ltd. is at 18412 – 96th Avenue in Surrey, and 4663 Banzer Drive in Prince George.