Flying high – Falcon Equipment, Surrey, B.C.
By Monica Dick
Falcon Equipment has come a long way from its beginnings as a small three-person shop in 1988 to the nation-wide equipment house it is now. Today, the company has a total of eight locations across the nation, five of which are in western Canada – Surrey and Nanaimo, B.C.; Leduc, Alta.; Regina, Sask.; and Winnipeg, Man.
“We’re a one-stop shop now,” says Dan Kielan, Falcon Equipment president. “We sell equipment, representing a number of key product brands; manufacture some of our own equipment in-house; sell; rent; lease; finance; and offer full after-market parts and service.”
Falcon offers the heavy-duty trucks and equipment that municipalities need for road-building and large-scale landscaping, such as hooklifts, dump bodies, all-season combo bodies, flat decks, liquid application systems and hydraulic control systems.
Kielan’s father Rick started the company in 1988 with his wife Judie and business partner Howard Hartin. Kielan says it’s Rick’s upbringing as a hard-working farm boy in Saskatchewan that helped shape the work ethic, values and culture of what Falcon is today.
Falcon’s leadership team is made up of three key individuals who run the British Columbia-based equipment company – Kielan, president; Blair Norberg, vice-president; and Eric Poersch, CFO. Falcon staffs 118 employees across western Canada with branches in Nanaimo, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, and a main office in Surrey.
During the past 30 years Falcon has grown into a full-service provider of innovative equipment solutions, including lifting equipment, rail equipment, snow and ice equipment, municipal equipment, road-building equipment, landscaping equipment, service bodies, deck trucks and utility trucks, as stated in the company’s website.
Kielan was 10 years old when Falcon was founded. So, he’s always seen the company through a different set of eyes. He grew up understanding that building relationships is a key part of business.
“Good relationships are in the fabric and DNA of a successful business,” he says. “Staff, customers, suppliers – it’s important to establish and maintain those relationships.”
Kielan started with the company in 2004 on the sales and support team to learn Falcon’s extensive product line. Now-as president, he still enjoys interacting with customers and sales, meeting new people and always looking for more ways to grow and expand what Falcon is currently doing. “I’ve always enjoyed the big picture and looking for growth opportunities.”
A flourishing rental segment
The rental segment of Falcon Equipment has been performing significantly well today. Its rental business has multiple components to it, says Joel Gibson, Falcon’s director of sales.
“We have rail rental business. We have lifting, which is our knuckle boom and stick stiffboom cranes. And then we have multiple pieces of utility equipment that are rented across Canada,” he explains. “In addition to the equipment, we also carry accessories and attachments that we rent out.”
The customer base for the rental business is extensive as well. Gibson notes it includes the building supply industry, rail companies, crown corporations, construction, general contractors and owner operators, among others.
Falcon Equipment has been a part of the equipment rental market for around 10 years now. Gibson notes that, as a company, Falcon has seen the rental side of the business grow for them steadily over the past five years.
Over the years, the biggest shift that the rental segment has seen is that there are more and more companies in the marketplace looking for rental purchase options.
“What we do as a company is we offer the ability to rent equipment from us. Many times, the customer wants to purchase the equipment. In that case, what we do is we apply a percentage of the rental of that equipment towards the purchase price. We’ve really seen that market grow for us as a company,” explains Gibson.
He adds that this gives Falcon’s customers additional options. It gives them the ability to divert the rental money that they put towards that piece of equipment to its purchase if the equipment works well for their company.
Gibson notes the diversity of equipment offered by Falcon is one of the greatest strengths of its rental business. “We have equipment from smaller knuckle booms up to larger knuckle booms in the utility market; anything from bucket trucks to digger derricks. We have telehandlers in our rental fleet. We have a very diverse breadth of product line that most of our competitors don’t have in this marketplace,” he explains.
Well-maintained and updated
The success of Falcon’s rental business can be attributed to how its rental fleet is handled. The fleet is maintained to the highest standards of the industry, says Gibson.
One major advantage of having the rental purchase option is that it gives Falcon the ability to replenish and refresh its rental fleet on a more regular basis when compared to businesses that only offer rentals.
“We being a sales company as well as a rental company, are able to sell our own rental equipment. This gives us the ability to put new rental equipment back into the fleet. Anything that we have in our rental fleet is maintained to the highest standards. We service our own utility equipment and our own cranes. So, we’re able to look after it in-house,” adds Gibson.
With the company having both the retail and rental businesses under its wing, another major advantage Falcon enjoys is being able to offer a good mix of equipment ranging from older products to the latest in the market.
If customers have a shorter-term project and they are looking for a price point in the marketplace, Falcon rents out one of its pre-owned pieces of equipment. If customers are looking for something brand new, it’s because they are looking for warranties and longer-term rentals. Then Falcon offers from its collection of new pieces of equipment. No matter what the customer chooses, the rental purchase option can be applied towards any of them.
“It gives people the ability to rent at an affordable rate. And we’ve also got options for them in terms of what the monthly rental rate is going to be,” says Gibson.
Further growth and current challenges
Falcon has continued to grow and proved it again at the end of 2019 by adding Palfinger to its product line. Palfinger is a truck equipment manufacturer offering cranes, hooklifts, cable hoists, forklifts, liftgates, service bodies and platforms.
“One of our most recent successes and largest would be adding the Palfinger product line to Falcon. For 31 years we sold one brand of crane and we made the decision last year to move from Hiab to Palfinger. Falcon still has a strong relationship with Hiab and is offering service to customers with Hiab,” explains Kielan.
Specifically, on the rental side, Falcon is venturing more and more to the east coast of Canada with its rental fleet. Moreover, the company is adding more equipment to the fleet itself on a monthly basis to further expand its offerings.
When it comes to challenges, Falcon is no exception to the many ways the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the heavy lifting, construction and road building industry, but Kielan says for the most part it’s been business as usual.
“COVID-19 has definitely affected us and had an impact on our day-to-day operations,” he says. “We’ve had to social distance and work from home. When everything began changing in March, Falcon’s leadership team met daily to manage the changes and communicate information to the staff.”
Kielan says overall business has remained quite strong but he isn’t sure of what to expect coming down the pipeline. “The bigger challenges are the ones we aren’t sure of yet. For example, the supply of our equipment lines may be delayed but we are actively seeking ways around this and are ready for any evolving challenges.”
With construction deemed as essential, and the market going strong across Canada, the rental market has been quite good for Falcon Equipment during COVID-19. However, notes Gibson, there is a perceived lack of confidence in the marketplace.
“Contractors and customers not willing to commit to a capital expenditure but still in need of equipment due to their booming business, are simply renting. And of course, if they choose to purchase that equipment in the future, they haven’t thrown away all that money,” says Gibson.
As part of Falcon’s vision for its rental business, the company intends to grow its fleet and maintain a more diverse breadth of equipment available for rent. “Year over year, month over month, we’re looking at investing more on the amount of equipment we have, the volume of equipment we have and the variety of equipment. We want our customers to have the option to run our equipment in whatever way works best for their business,” concludes Gibson.