F.L. Crane & Sons Inc.: Diverse Custom Finishes
- Written by: F.L. Crane & Sons Inc.: Diverse Custom Finishes
- Produced by: F.L. Crane & Sons Inc.: Diverse Custom Finishes
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
F.L. Crane & Sons Inc. (FLC) is a full-service, specialty finishing contractor. Floyd Crane founded the business in 1947, and the company is currently in the hands of the third generation of ownership. Chip Crane, Floyd’s grandson and current owner and CEO of FLC, happily took the reins alongside longtime employee Mike Heering, president of FLC. “The company started very small,” says Mike. “They started with about five of six people.” How times have changed. FLC now employs a team of 400 to 500 craftsmen and, Chip says, “We’re a lot more diversified.”
FLC has been growing steadily for 65 years. “We’ve managed to package several different trades together,” says Chip. He continues to explain that FLC appeals to general contractors who are looking to consolidate subcontractors and keep bids low. The team offers several finish construction services, including drywall, plaster, acoustic ceiling, floor coverings and exterior insulated metal panels.
Ahead of the Game
The company has been installing exterior insulated metal panels for nearly a decade, years ahead of the competition. The team’s experience makes FLC a top choice for general contractors, as the company has performed several high-end projects with the state-of-the-art material. The panel division has been successful and contractors all over the country seek out FLC for exterior finishing work. “We did the entire exterior of the Super Dome in 2010,” says Mike. “We tore off the entire exterior skin and put on new metal panels. It was one of our most profitable jobs.”
Luckily, Chip and Mike’s team work well under pressure. Many projects are performed under strict time constraints, like the Atlanta Motor Speedway. “After the tornadoes tore up the building, we were hired by the general contractor,” says Mike. FLC replaced the entire exterior in only a few months and the track stadium was finished and cleaned up before the start of the racing season. The company is rolling with its successes in large-scale commercial applications, and Mike says the company may have more racetrack renovations in the future.
Getting Back to Growth
FLC has faced some setback with the dip in the economy, but Chip, Mike and the team are working hard to move back to a period of sustained growth. “Our workforce has been reduced because of the economy,” says Mike. “In about two or three years we dropped to half the size of what we were for many years.” In the past the company has had as many as 1,200 craftsmen onboard. “It’s been an eye-opening experience,” Mike says. “We were doing really well until ’08 or ’09.”
Chip says FLC went from being nearly overwhelmed with business to nearly running out. However, he still believes the company was fortunate because of the foresight of its leadership. “We saw what was coming and tightened our belts to weather the storm,” Chip explains. Part of the streamlining involved amplifying the company’s productivity. “It’s one of those things we didn’t have to focus so much on back when we had more work,” he explains. “We mostly just focused on having enough manpower. Now the cost is most important. If you’re not bidding low, you’re not getting a job.” Chip’s team has kicked it into high gear and, he says, “Our guys have become incredibly efficient.”
The executives say they have seen some improvements in the economy, although Mike says, “It’s not exactly anything to be jumping up and down clapping your hands over. It’s not 2008, but it’s getting better.” FLC is picking up projects in hospitality and retail, two markets Mike says the company hasn’t seen much of in the last few years. “Right now we’re just trying to get back to a position where we can share profits with our people,” he explains. Mike and Chip agree that doing the best they can for FLC employees is the secret to a well-balanced business, and a little extra reward can go a long way as a motivator for productivity.
After 65 years in operation, FLC remains a true family business. Chip’s son recently started working for the company and he hopes to pass FLC down the line. Though the business changes hands, a reputation for quality workmanship is carried on with each new generation. “We have built a standard that sets up apart from our competitors,” says Chip.
Part of quality control at FLC is in keeping a crew with the experience, knowledge and sense of pride that fits the company’s standards. “Chip’s dad always pushed that everybody, at some point, should be out in the field working,” Mike says. All of the executives and managers in the company have shared that experience. “He always encouraged me to try everything and learn all the trades,” continues Mike. “I started in the field and worked my way up, and Chip started the same way.” Starting at the bottom, the leaders of F.L. Crane & Sons Inc. have become the best equipped on the market to perform successful specialty finish work.
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