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No boundaries for high flying local business

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Kate de Lautour

A break into the lucrative Australian market has opened up exciting opportunities for long established Onekawa based company Falcon Electrical.


Trained as an electro-mechanical and control systems engineer, Falcon owner Richard Phillips has no qualms talking about the impact that the rapid growth of his business, has had on his life.

“We’re talking about the families of 46 staff here – it’s a big responsibility and as every business owner knows, it can keep you up at night.”

Staff numbers have jumped from 22 to 46 in the past five years, driven in part, by an increased focus on manufacturing custom-made switchboards for a wide range of clients including the meat industry, forestry, wineries, and councils.

The company’s core work of installation, maintenance and servicing has grown steadily with the central North Island. The manufacturing arm of the business, is not geographically limited and with a supportive supply chain in Australia, the foray across the Tasman has been initiated and FEL Switchboards Pty Ltd is now open in Melbourne

This growth has required a certain amount of change within the business, not only for the staff, but for Phillips as well.

“It has forced me to shift from working on the business, not in the business.”

Taking part in the Icehouse owner manager programme has handed him the confidence to build on the company’s successes and see a clear pathway for the business to progress.

“We had a lot of balls in the air and the Icehouse has really equipped me with the skills and the focus to deal with the challenges.”

The chance to look at the business with a group of like-minded professionals provided answers to issues while a course block dedicated to financials helped to drill down to exactly where the money was being made.

Phillips admits the recession has been good for business.

“We’ve been forced to get out there, to extend what we were doing, into new markets.”

The opportunities in Australia, with its continued drive on large scale infrastructure development, are vast and tendering is not tied down to a prescribed location.

“Major capital projects are being listed on a daily basis over there.”

With the industry changing world-wide, Phillips says the business is offering an attractive  future proofed service to companies.

“Equipment doesn’t wear out anymore – it gets superseded, so we’re always ensuring that our customers are not compromised with regard to future proofing, cost or competitive productivity.”

Back at home, Falcon was a finalist in the recent high profile Hawke’s Bay Chamber of Commerce Westpac Business Awards.

“The team were gutted not to win, but watch this space.”