Managing Director of FBX Solutions, Frank Blahuta, talks to Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine about his background in business and the important role the Blackburn-based company can play in helping businesses relocate and become more efficient.
Hi Frank, tell us a bit about your background in business and the industry?
After leaving school at 16, I took up a mechanical apprenticeship at BAE Systems as a mechanical fitter on the shop floor, where I worked on a variety of aircraft, including Airbus, Tornados and even a Spitfire! Following several promotions, I worked my way up to become the Quality Manager UK of the Saudi Support Division.
From there I moved to Esnad Limited and spent four years in Saudi Arabia as Head of Quality Assurance, operating and maintaining four VVIP Aircraft for RSAF, as well as implementing all business systems to ISO 9001.
I then moved to EADS as Senior Manager of Quality Assurance before becoming Director of Quality and Business Systems, and from there I moved to HFS Managed Services, a management consultancy providing bespoke business solutions to defence and security businesses, as Managing Director.
My last full-time role was at Allen-Vanguard Corporation, a global leader in providing counter-terrorism solutions, where I spent four years in various roles, including VP and General Manager, VP of Business and Organisational Effectiveness – based in Ottawa, Canada – and VP of Quality Assurance.
What does FBX Solutions do?
FBX helps small-medium sized businesses in the manufacturing and logistics industries get the maximum value out of their facilities through our dedicated facilities change management service.
Making these changes can be very difficult for companies who may not have the expertise to put an experienced in-house team in place to manage the complex process of changing facilities, but we have the expertise to manage the entire facilities change process to a successful conclusion.
We initially consult with senior management to understand their strategic objectives and how the current facilities will need to change over time.
That could mean anything from a complete relocation to optimisation of their current facilities. We really do offer a one-stop shop and a bespoke service to each client, working with them to make sure they get exactly what they need to take their business forward.
How did FBX Solutions start?
When I returned to the UK from Canada in 2012 I decided to set up my own management consultancy company, FBX Solutions, which was originally started to offer consultancy support to businesses in the UK by delivering quality projects to implement Quality, Environmental and Health and Safety Management Systems and lean manufacturing.
Due to my previous expertise in relocating businesses, I was brought in by Lonestar, who manufacture and supply precision-engineered components for the global energy markets and was instrumental in getting FBX on board to project manage their relocation from start to finish. Since then FBX has worked with and helped several businesses to successfully manage new facility projects and subsequent relocations.
FBX has steadily grown over the years and now offers a full turnkey package for client relocation or refurbishment tasks, including reviewing the current facility footprint and usage, recommending efficiency improvements, drafting the business case, developing detailed construction and layout designs, obtaining the necessary planning approvals, running a full tender process with construction companies, managing the initial construction or fit out, and finally assisting clients with their relocation planning and mobilisation.
This means that a company MD has one point of contact for all their project requirements and does not unnecessarily tie up members of their management boards who are already busy managing the business.
Tell us about some of the biggest relocation projects?
For the Lonestar relocation, we were tasked with taking three limited companies on four different sites and bringing them under one company’s management on a single site.
We had to look at the size of each space, how they utilised that space and how efficient the companies ran to what they needed. Running parallel with that, we were asked to look at the prospect of relocating LoneStar to a new site, so we looked at brand new builds and existing builds and how much space they would finally need.
We found a 115,000 sq ft facility and put a plan in place with architects, designers and a construction company, leased the building and managed the whole design and redevelopment of the new site.
We are currently working on a relocation for a South East based client, who designs and builds products for the defence and security sectors, which is on target to be ready next January/February.
After being initially appointed in 2015 to assist with the upgrade and management of their Health and Safety system, FBX were asked to project manage the construction of a 45 sq ft manufacturing facility.
The client originally had a facility that was 27,000 sq ft spread over six sites which we found to be totally inefficient due to logistical reasons. We reviewed several existing locations before recommending to the client that we design and build a brand-new purpose-built facility.
How do you see FBX Solutions progressing in the future?
The consultancy roles will always run in parallel with the facility relocation management, but the real appetite is to grow the relocation service that we offer as we feel it is providing a unique service to help small-medium sized businesses grow.
Additionally, a key offering from FBX is that we can also overhaul clients existing management systems so that the company can operate in a more efficient and productive manner following their decision to relocate or refurbish existing facilities.
We are now also offering associated training services to clients, such as health and safety and Quality Management, so we are looking to develop that area of the business in the future.
If you are thinking of growing or relocating your business now or in the future, contact FBX on 01254 832582 or visit https://www.fbxsolutions.co.uk/