Qube magazine - Fast Forward
"It's not only been an exciting 12 months for FSI but the whole FM industry has experienced a 'coming of age'," enthuses FSI's Managing Director Jim Mitchell. "We rebranded the company to be more inline with our hands on consultancy approach in developing CAFM solutions for our clients." But its not just about a slick new image, according to Mitchell, it is about adopting a philosophy of true consultancy in partnership with the client. "A lot of people pay lip service to the term consultancy. In fact, we had to invest heavily in getting the right people to enable us to offer added value to our clients. Its not an overnight transformation, it is a need that was apparent to us as a company with a proud heritage in engineering and systems. Not only was there a gaping whole in the market for consultancy, but there was very little in terms of professionals out there able to offer such professional services." Now, reports Mitchell, the branding of FSI has firmly stamped the companies authority on the market. Exciting developments have taken place at FSI over the past year. This has meant new clients, new projects and new locations. The jewel in the crown in terms of major projects was the Exxon project with ABB where Concept™ is being used in a large number of European countries to manage a substantial management operation. Major new clients on board in the last 12 months include Pfizer, Highways Agency, Prudential Properties, Airbus and United Utilities Properti Ltd to name but a few. This success has translated to the bottom line, which according to Mitchell is good news for re-investment in the business. FSI performance figures for the first 6 months of the current financial year showed a 24% increase in turnover and an improvement in profits. FSI has its sights firmly set on developing international consultancy in tandem with developing the domestic market and launched its new 'reinvented' self at the FM Expo 2001 to much acclaim and just a little bit of scepticism from competitors and some clients. "We have a very down to earth approach to applying business need analysis to developing our solutions. And we showed our cards to the market. The past year has justified that approach." Fast forward a year to the eve of the FX Expo, and FSI has a number of milestones achieved and move to push for. Jim Mitchell not only undertook management in organisation, with the appointment of operations director Compton Darlington and technical director Karl Horner to the board, but he looked to bringing in new blood. Enter Don Cameron from JVC Professional as FSI's director of sales and marketing. "Our paths had crossed several times, notably on a joint project when Don headed the engineering support group at ITN" explained Mitchell, "The post called for someone who knew the technical world but had applied leading edge marketing principles and developed both sales teams and training programmes." Although Cameron is Glaswegian by birth he has the northern flair for getting straight to the point that you would expect from a man whose early years were spent in Manchester. A whirlwind career in engineering and marketing has taken Don from the States to Japan and most parts in between and prepared him for a salvo of initiatives to catapult FSI into the international league. "What impressed me was the enthusiasm of the people that make up FSI. The management team, consultants, technical consultants - everyone. My job is to unlock this enthusiasm and passion for CAFM consultancy" explains Cameron. Cameron's job record leading to JVC includes serial postings at broadcast equipment manufacturer Arpex International and a range of TV companies, including head of engineering at ITN. Earlier spells included roles with Granada TV, commissioning Oman TV and established the South African base for International Aeradio. There's no prizes for guessing that we're determined to develop an international presence. It makes sense with so many global blue chip clients in our portfolio. Again, we are being market lead rather than product lead. That's where our erstwhile competitors seem to have missed a trick," explains Cameron. Another milestone is the anniversary of the alliance with FMA (Facilities Management Africa (PTY)) in South Africa. Jim Mitchell comments that the arrangement is extremely effective and integrates with FSI's wider aim for global expansion. "Thanks to the partnership FSI systems are in place in South Africa, with Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique and Angola to follow" Businesses that have integrated FM systems throughout South Africa include Citibank South Africa, Johannesburg Stock Exchange and Merchant Place, one of the most prestigious business addresses in the Gauteng Financial business region. FSI is also developing its presence in Asia and Australasia, along side major contracts with European based contracts. "The fast pace of technology change means that we are constantly developing our understanding of client issues and how to resolve them." says Cameron, who cites major investment in R&D, as a key focus for systems and consultancy development. "Perhaps the departure for many of the key players is the need to ensure that integration and capability of systems is inbuilt. Clients demand cross platform abilities and the CAFM industry must sit up and listen to its clients or face the consequences," he warns. "We're about the delivery of IT solutions for FM professionals. First and foremost we must ensure that the implementation is successful and we commit consultants to ensure that our clients are able to deploy our solutions. That means developing a longer term relationship with our clients... or the P word (partnering)." Straight talking Cameron is determined to keep away from marketing buzzwords "Words and actions have to mean something. That is my aim. To translate our promise to our clients, keep those clients and continue the relationship to our mutual benefit." (win win in market speak). Mitchell is keen to give Don Cameron as much as he needs. "Don has clear objectives, I've known him long enough to know that he will build and develop the marketing and business development teams, alongside the consultant and technical teams." or, in Cameron's words... "fast forward"