Evolution has been at the heart of FEL Group’s development since it was originally created as Foster Environmental Limited 22 years ago. Its progressive approach was particularly evident last year when it underwent a significant rebrand to help pave the way for the writing of the next chapter in the company’s already impressive history, as Jonathan Camm, Business Development Director, recently outlined to Construction Industry News.
“We started out as an air conditioning and refrigeration business before moving into the data centre market around ten years ago,” outlines Mr Camm. “We now have three distinct elements to the group: traditional air conditioning installation, maintenance of equipment regardless of whether we’ve installed it ourselves or not, and data centres. We have also put the infrastructure in place to add a fourth string to our bow that is focused on emerging technology, particularly energy optimisation. It’s still very much in the early stages but we are working with partner companies, such as Airedale and Ekkosence, where we already have well established relationships to further develop innovative products. This will allow us to remain at forefront of new technologies as they emerge, helping us to provide a high degree of flexibility to the data centre environment. This ensures we can offer the best and most cost effective solutions to meet our customers’ requirements.”
This forward-thinking and client-focused approach, coupled with the breadth of its engineering experience and expertise, means FEL Group can carry out both installation and maintenance works in a wide range of different sectors in all types of building, from commercial office blocks and hospitals through to IT and leisure facilities.
To fully maximise the skills and knowledge base it has within the business, John Higginbottom has taken up the role as Managing Director, which, along with the rebranding process, will be the catalyst for further expansion. To promote the growth plan Mr Camm was also recruited last year to raise brand awareness within the wider marketplace and win additional contracts. FEL Group now has a business plan in place to double turnover from its current level of £20m over the course of the next three years.
With a newly invigorated management team, FEL Group is well placed to make the most of its extremely capable workforce, which includes its own installation teams of tradesmen. All work is therefore carried out in-house in-line with its stringent company standards. What’s more, the business is also a keen advocate of apprenticeships and currently has nine apprentices on its books to provide the workforce needed to achieve the business’ long-term objectives.
Able to operate nationally, FEL Group is targeting growth in a number of areas, as Mr Camm outlines: “We are currently focusing on telecom companies and data centres, so we are engaging in these markets at the moment. We are carving a niche in these sectors by offering a turnkey solution that provides walls, floors and ceilings, as well as full M&E services, to a data centre/server room environment in such a way that it allows for future expansion when required. It is so important to build in capacity so that additional power and cooling can be easily provided when it is needed. We’re very experienced in optimising environments to generate increased power and cooling from an existinginfrastructure. If this isn’t possible and a more significant upgrade is required that involves an extension to the building, then we can also accommodate this in such a way that the environment remains dust-free.”
Even with the robust infrastructure and the new impetus provided by the new management team, Mr Camm remains aware of the potential challenges that might lie ahead. “Whilst we have a wealth of experience to draw on and a really high quality team within the organisation, we are conscious that we are still relatively unknown in certain markets, especially data centres. We’re confident that we have all the attributes to make a real impact but in the meantime we’re fully focused on getting new customers on-board and demonstrating what we can do to them. Once we’ve got our foot in the door, I’m sure we’ll be able to build long-lasting relationships with the customer on the strength of our service. We already have a number of clients that we’ve worked with for a number of years and have grown in tandem with. We’re very keen to develop further long-term partnerships along these lines.”
With the rebranding process done and dusted, FEL Group is now striving to keep the momentum going. “Looking towards the next 12 months, we’re aiming to secure two to three new customers in the data centre market, including a major telephone company that we’re hoping will help us provide customers with the higher capacity and infrastructure to enable the smooth roll out of the new 5G network,” concludes Mr Camm. “Again it will all be about building lasting relationships and securing repeat business on the back of them going forward.”
This customer-centric approach has served FEL Group well over the past two decades. With the added impetus that the rebranding and management changes have brought, it can quite look forward with increased confidence as it aims to maximise the opportunities it has identified within the marketplace.