Over the course of its 30-year history, FAI has become known for its large array of engine component ranges and extensive steering and suspension portfolio. PMF met up with the company at Automechanika Frankfurt to find out how the business has evolved into one of the aftermarket’s big players.
The FAI stand was certainly noticeable when walking through the semeingly endless aisles of this year’s Automechanika Frankfurt. Immediately catching the eye, it was clear that FAI’s presence at the exhibition was geared towards showcasing its vast array of products and merchandise that stood front and centre in branded, clear perspex cases.
Alongside the top selling products, such as steering and suspension, timing chain kits and engine components, stood the red and black Ducati Superbike. Images of the Aruba.it Ducati WSBK team – which FAI sponsors – surrounded the bike, hitting the point home that FAI associates itself with the high standards of a ‘winning team’.
Jonathan Alexander, the company’s Commercial Director, was on the stand to run through all of FAI’s latest developments.
Q. How have you got on at the Frankfurt show this year?
Jonathan Alexander (JA): As with previous shows, we’ve seen impressive footfall on the stand. Automechanika Frankfurt is still the most productive aftermakret show for us, even after involvement in recent years with AM Birmingham, Moscow and Dubai. We have seen growth both in the UK and globally, hence the decision this year to double the stand size and staffing to allow for more meeting areas. Frankfurt really is the highlight of our calendar, providing a unique opportunity to generate new business and to touch base with our existing customers. New business throughout Europe and the rest of the world means we can lower our manufacturing costs, in turn, providing an economical offering in the UK.
Q. What’s new for FAI?
JA: We’ve worked flat out for the past few years, introducing carefully selected ranges to complement our existing products. It’s been really encouraging to see the interest shown so far, particularly in our cylinder heads, sump pans, oil control valves, engine bearings and torsional vibration dampers. Whilst we have been introducing new product ranges, our product manaers strive to expand our existing ranges to ensure that we offer the best vehicle coverage. As an example of this work, our steering and suspension range has seen nearly 1,000 additions in the past 12 months, taking it to over 6,000 part numbers. We try to maintain a focus on newer vehicles.
Q. What sets FAI apart from the competition?
JA: The speed at which we develop and launch new product lines is a key strength of ours, allowing us to adapt and thrive in a turbulent and ever-changing market. We offer customers a focused set of products that deliver a balance of quality and range coverage, whilst maintaining a competitive price point.
If there was one aspect that I’m particularly proud of, it’s the willingness to go the extra mile; helping our customers in anyway possible. This has been clearly reflected in our customer surveys, where we achieved 97% customer satisfaction. We’re always looking forwards; pre-empting market demands.
To really support our customers in the UK, we have a sales team of four area sales managers managed by our UK Sales Manager Lauren Bartlett. The team provide frontline customer service and support with a backup team at our head office. Providing sales data support, analysis and other administrative assistance, our sales support office works alongside an excellent customer service and communications team to supply the framework and content of our sales and communications service.
Q. What are FAI’s plans for the future?
JA: As part of our new-to-range initiative, we will be launching a brand new selection of wheel bearing kits, which include an initial 200 part numbers that have been handpicked to cover the most popular vehicle manufacturers. It really is a fantastic product and each kit includes any nuts, bolts and sensors needed to fit them. These will be available soon, but to stay up to date with our latest news, customers can subscribe to the weekly or monthly newsletter at faiauto.com/subscribe.
We have also made considerable investment in our ability to analyse data. With dedicated teams looking at market data, pricing, vehicle parc and applications along with our own sales and marketing information, we can ensure that everything we offer is competitive and relevant. For continuing success in the future, data will be a key factor in growth, so we have made sure that we are fully prepared.
Earlier this year, FAI had the honour of receiving The Queen’s Award for Enterprise, giving the long-established British company well-earned recognition after consistent, notable advances in the automotive aftermarket. FAI was specifically recognised for the outstanding growth in international trade, one of four categories within the Queen’s Award programme.
This honour is only awarded to qualifying companies able to demonstrate the strict requirements and consistent year- on-year sales growth that you would expect from a top British exporter. The Queen’s award, now in its 53rd year, can’t be won on figures alone; processes throughout the business must exceed the norm, with social, environmental and corporate responsibility all being scrutinised in the selection process.
Managing Director Sean Walker had this to say about FAI’s award success: “Winning such a prestigious award has had a reverberating effect throughout the business and I would like to congratulate all our hardworking staff. The Board of Directors couldn’t be more pleased with the direction the company has taken and they look forward to the next five years of business. All this can only be achieved with the support of our loyal customer base, from which our success stems from. Now we’ve got the award, we will be working hard to showcase why we deserve it and what we can offer.”
In a special feature published by the Sunday Times, FAI was ranked 143rd in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 – a respected award that recognises the highest achieving UK companies based on international growth. Along with its biggest motorsport sponsorship deal to date, several new product launches, a planned European distribution hub and a number of internal improvements, 2019 is shaping up to be a very important year for FAI and its customers, with substantial investment for both the UK and beyond.