Crown Fence Company
- Written by: Crown Fence Company
- Produced by: Crown Fence Company
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Crown Fence Company (Crown), founded in 1923, is the oldest remaining business of its kind in Southern California. The Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based, third-generation company is an industry leader in public, commercial and industrial fencing.
Since Arthur Fiedler founded Crown in Pasadena, Calif., the company has continued to grow based on its dedication to exceed customer expectations for quality, schedule and price. What started as a small fencing business has prospered and been handed down through the family over the years. Arthur’s sons Kern and Richard took over the business after their father’s passing. Despite being in his mid-80s, Richard is still an active member in daily operations at Crown. However, Eric Fiedler, third-generation vice president of Crown, co-runs the business with Cecil Gates, president of Crown.
Gates has been in his current position since 1993 and has worked for Crown since 1975. “I actually have performed every position in the office over the years,” says Gates. “I started as the lowest paid employee in Compton, Calif., doing billings, but when I was assigned payroll and saw that I was the lowest paid employee, I asked for a raise. Since then, with God’s help, I worked my way up through the ranks of sales and management.”
In addition to the Santa Fe Springs location, the company has California branches in San Diego and Corona. Crown specializes in fencing for public entities, such as highways and schools, as well as sports parks. Most recently, Crown has found a niche in fencing for solar facilities. Whether the project is large or small, the company offers chain link, guardrail and ornamental fencing suitable for any size commercial job.
Miles of Fencing
In 90 years of business, Crown has installed thousands of miles of chain link, ornamental and guardrail fencing. Crown fence signs are everywhere in Southern California, as the company offers a variety of styles, colors, sizes and dimensions in chain link fencing. The highway division of the company installs all types of guardrails, protective posts, barriers and crash cushions to improve safety in areas where there is a danger of vehicles running off an embankment, highway, secondary roads, bridges or parking lots. Crown also specializes in ornamental iron fences, which can be designed to create an individual image, as well as coated to ensure corrosion resistance.
According to Gates, the company is currently completing the largest fencing project in Crown’s history. Bechtel Power Corporation contracted with Crown to install over 60 miles of specialized fencing for Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System near Nipton, Calif. The solar project is on 3,500 acres of federal land and will serve about 140,000 homes with power once complete by the end of 2013. “It’s the biggest job we’ve ever done,” says Gates.
Gates is quick to point out that Crown has been involved in numerous big name projects. When Los Angeles hosted the Olympics in summer 1984, Crown served as the primary fencing contractor for the city. The company installed fences around 15 training sites, all the performance sites, three Olympic villages and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The company spent approximately four months prior to the Olympics putting up all the fencing. Then, it took another three months after the Olympics to take all its work down. “Everything we put in had to come out,” says Gates. “Some areas remained permanently, but even though the other areas had permanent-grade structures, it had to be removed.” Gates attributes the acquisition of that job and the large Bechtel job to Richard Fiedler, current senior owner who still leads the company and gets into the trenches at bid time.
Crown has also been responsible for major highway and school fencing projects. “Two such large highway projects are the 241 toll road, which connects the north and south portions of Orange County and Route 73 in the Laguna Niguel area,” explains Gates.
According to Gates, a recent source of company pride was providing fencing for Central High School in Los Angeles. The project earned the company a national award from the Chain Link Fence Manufacturing Institute (CLFMI) for the most unique fencing project of the year.
Sustaining a Third-generation Business
Crown has not been immune to the economic hardship contractors have dealt with across the country. The company employs about 140 people, many of whom have been with the company for decades. Gates reports it was important for the company to adapt in order to maintain staff.
“The profit margins are down on all the work,” he says. “The solar work has helped us keep our volumes up. Because of the solar work we’ve managed to not lay off any of our staff.”
However, Gates recognizes reality. “It’s not like we’re sailing,” he continues. “It’s tough times. The competition is so great on these larger jobs, so we’re doing what we need to keep our people working.”
The third-generation company is focusing on the future. Gates anticipates Richard stepping down in the future from his role as chairman of the company’s executive committee. At that time, it is likely Eric will take over his position, and Crown will need to appoint a new vice president.
With a huge push for alternative energy sources, Gates also foresees more work for Crown in that industry. He hopes as the economy rebounds, there will be a greater need again in the public sector for fencing. Regardless of the type of work, Crown Fence Company will continue leading the commercial fencing industry for years to come.
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