In the Johannesburg suburb of Jeppestown, Ian Falconer started a modest stair building company. Since its inception in 1982, Falcon Shopfitters has impressively expanded their small start-up into a portfolio of worldwide clientele using their interior and exterior solutions.
Falcon Shopfitters work closely with interior design companies, using in-house draughts men to bring a small or large contract to timely completion—without compromising vision or standards—all aspects a client has the right to expect. Falcon’s mission lies within delivering a quality product and shopfitting for clients by partnering with experienced architects, designers and project managers, all working together to provide the best service. With over 10 million Rand invested in plant and machiney over the past few years, Falcon has one of the best equipped woodworking factories in Africa, which has not been put together at the expense of our labour force. Even during the global recession, the company has stayed strong.
The company has a close-knit community of workers and much of its staff have been with the company since its inception. The company today boasts a staff of 150.
“We have all been here for a long time. It’s very well entrenched,” says Falconer.
The company has worked in a number of different locations for a number of different types of clientele including casinos, hotels and banks.
“We started off as stair builders and then we went into domestic, then retail, then commercial. Then we started with hotels and casinos and then things really started to move. Expansion prompted those moves,” says Falconer.
Sizeable projects include GrandWest Casino, the Capetown International Convention Centre and the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg. Though the company advertises on their website, they maintain a personable approach to advertising.
“A lot of our advertising is done by word of mouth. There are quite a few companies in South Africa that do the same,” he said.
Competition in the field
The business specializes in casinos and five star hotels and has partnered with a variety of interior design firms to see their projects come to fruition. Currently, Falcon has eight in-house project managers who help to coordinate and manage the variety of tradesman that work with them.
“When someone approaches us, they have drawings or we can do them with a bill of quantities. All our design teams are out of house and they are normally the people who come to us with the work,” says Falconer.
The company prides itself on the quality of their work, with a quick turnover period.
“Very often time is a key factor. Instead of paying 80 pounds to get the job done in six months, they will pay 100 pounds to get the job done in four months.”
Though Falcon has done a lot of jobs outside of Africa, its priorities lie within their home country. “We’ve worked in Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Mozambique, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe… I think we’ve worked to some level in almost every African country,” says Falconer. “In-house training updating machinery is very competitive on a worldwide basis. We have a lot of CNC machines, routers, planners, etc. We work with very cutting edge technology.”
Falcon uses a lot of wood for its products, but is environmentally aware of its carbon footprint, with a policy on using products that have an FSC forest certification. Falcon also uses environmentally sound Enviro-skip services which safely remove waste products.
Growth and the economy
Though the company has seen rapid growth since its founding, with the current economic recession their expansion has come to somewhat of a standstill. Regardless, Falconer still has high hopes for the future and stands by his company’s high standards of quality production.
“In the coming years, we will increase our turnover a bit. Times are tough so we will maintain an even keel at the moment. We won’t look at expansion until the coming years,” says Falconer. “We will delivery on time and quality is our expertise. Sometimes we are not the cheapest, but if the customer wants good quality and on time, we are the ones to come to.”