Making the Big Move
Henry Friesen, President of FB Industries Inc., is a creator, innovator and relationship builder. With a high energy level and strong interpersonal skills, he fuels his business through relationships. In the words of his TEC Chair, Barry Bernhard: “There are two types of individuals in Henry’s world: friends and people he hasn’t met yet.” As an entrepreneur driven by good rapport, Henry ensures all business stakeholders are treated as family.
FB Industries was developed to meet a market need for frac sand handling and storage equipment, with relationships fueling their business growth. Working in the oil and gas industry since 2005, Henry noticed that storing sand was problematic in remote areas, and he was determined to find the solution. In 2009 he developed an idea for a vertical sand storage system, completing the drafting and design with his son. “We attended the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary to present the storage system to potential clients and they were in awe,” Henry states. “They kept saying ‘This is exactly what we need, how much are they and when can we place an order?’"
"Most companies fail because they have a great idea but try to do everything themselves and can’t keep up."
- Henry Friesen
Henry struggled to manage his career in Sales and Marketing R&D and his new product venture, which his employer had no interest in undertaking. As a small shareholder, he became frustrated with the challenges of introducing new products. He decided to join TEC to find balance in his busy schedule, and soon found the answer to what his next business decision would be. “When I first joined TEC, the best experience for me was sitting in the board room and telling the group my story. This moment helped me make a massive move,” Henry explains. “They unanimously told me I would be crazy not to pursue the new venture, and to present my resignation immediately. My TEC group helped me build a buyout plan and had it not been for them, I would have only received half the money.”
In November 2012, Henry launched FB Industries with his son, Tyler, and son in law, Jon. All three agreed that the company would operate as a family business with Henry lending his experience and knowledge along the way. Maintaining strong customer relationships is a strongly held company value and is the determining factor of success. Henry promoted the idea of outsourcing talented companies who could manufacture the components, allowing FB Industries to focus on product design, sales and inspection for quality. “I came up with the mindset that most companies fail because they have a great idea but try to do everything themselves and can’t keep up,” Henry states. “So we used existing resources and didn’t carry overhead or have to worry about building and running a manufacturing facility.”
The original business goal of FB Industries was to build 10 vertical storage systems in a two year period with the hopes of making some pocket money. Business exceeded this expectation with 26 units sold in the first year of operations, taking the company revenues from $0 to $12 million. The company’s original target market portfolio of Northern Alberta and BC quickly expanded to include Texas, which currently accounts for 90 percent of their business. Now, FB Industries sits between $18 million and $19 million in annual revenue.
Henry emphasizes how delivering quality customer service is the key ingredient to running a successful business. With demanding customer deadlines, make sure he calls clients to notify them if a product will be late and manages the relationship whenever a potential issue is identified. “I believe we grew fast as a company because I listened and learned from other people’s mistakes in the oil and gas industry. I communicate with our customers thoroughly to ensure we grow through building relationships,” he explains. Word of mouth has been a large contributor to the company’s rapid growth, with many new clients hearing positive reviews from competitors about Henry’s direct, truthful communication with his customers.
As a firm believer that relationships are essential in business, Henry states, “Deciding to join TEC has been an amazing experience and I’ll tell you why. You stand alone in your world as an entrepreneur. You’re second guessing your decisions when personal wants and challenges cloud your view. With TEC you are not alone. TEC is a body of unbiased support, like-minded in business.”
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