Canada’s Falcon Equipment Soars on Customization For Clients

Falcon is not your typical equipment house.

In addition to selling and servicing equipment, the Canadian company also fabricates rigs to its customers’ specifications.

“We’re a little bit of an anomaly in the equipment distributor business,” Blair Norberg, Falcon vice president, said recently. “We buy a truck, and then we bring our equipment in, and then mount it. A lot of times we fabricate a flat deck and different peripheral equipment to package it all up, so we’re almost a packager. Then we sell that end equipment. It differentiates us a little bit having an installation department and a manufacturing/fabrication department, over and above parts, service and sales (departments).”

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Started in 1988 by Rick Kielan and Howard Hartin, Falcon has grown from a small two- to three-bay shop servicing truck cranes in Surrey, British Columbia to employing 110 workers and offering its customized services across Canada  in addition to branching out to the rail business in 2004 with the launch of its sister company, Falcon Shuttle Rail Inc.

Norberg, who himself was once a Falcon customer, joined the business in 2001, moving from an operations-focused position at his previous employer into sales.

“The company has been able to provide plenty of opportunity and no two days are the same,” he said. “It keeps one guessing and excited about what tomorrow brings. It’s a progressive company that provides a lot of growth opportunity for its staff.”

Today, Norberg is a shareholder, along with Kielan, who is CEO, and Hartin, who is in charge of corporate development. Kielan’s son, Dan, is president of the rail side of the business (Falcon Shuttle Rail). And their once tiny Surrey headquarters has ballooned to include a 17,000-square-foot addition and four buildings, with another building recently purchased to add even more shop and office space.

Outside of its headquarters, the company has locations in Nanaimo, British Columbia; Regina, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba. It also provides sales in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta; Ottawa, Ontario as well as some rail related sales in the United States.  

Yet, still, Norberg and the other stakeholders consider Falcon to be “small.”

“Because we are still a private company, we can make decisions fast,” Norberg said. “We don’t need to go through boards if there’s a specific opportunity or product that we want to take on, or a customer has a certain need.”

Meeting its customers’ needs is at the forefront of what Falcon does.

“We pride ourselves on just really targeting what our customers’ needs are and filling those,” Norberg said. “As a Canadian company nowadays, we see a lot of our competitors getting bought up and a lot of our customers being bought up. The big do continue to get bigger, so we have to differentiate ourselves. I think we’ve done that by staying very custom.”

With that customized focus in mind, Falcon considers its clients to be just another team member when it comes time to get the job done.

“They come in, and we create and design together,” he said. “Then we put it on our shop floor and go from there. They can’t buy what we sell anywhere else.”

They can, however, rent or buy refurbished pieces from Falcon, as the company – like all equipment houses – sees an increased demand for both.

“We definitely see the trend,” Norberg said. “A lot of it was spurred by slower market times. ... Like everyone, it’s helped us get through some of those lean times. I think it just comes down to the end user not necessarily always having the capital expenditures in place to correspond with their equipment needs. All of a sudden they have to look at other means to get their equipment on site and we’re very flexible.”

Falcon’s future plans include continued expansion through organic growth as well as acquisitions, Norberg said.

“If we stay still and keep doing what we’re doing, that puts a small company in danger,” Norberg said. “We need to continue to grow and continue to make good decisions.”

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