Interview: Falon Nameplates's Kenneth More in conversation with Output
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By Morwenna Kearns
25 May 2012
Falon Nameplates has been producing cast metal signs and plaques since 1952
Output's managing editor Morwenna Kearns ran into Kenneth More, managing director at Northumberland-based Falon Nameplates, at last week's Museums and Heritage Show in London, where they talked about the 60-year-old cast metal sign company and how it's faring in 2012.
Falon Nameplates is marking its 60th anniversary this year. How will you be celebrating? And what advice can you offer to new businesses hoping to achieve that longevity?
As our products are memorials our celebrations are always a little subdued, but we have had a staff tea party (with sunshine in April). My advice on longevity is to keep going and never stop, a bit like the hamster in the wheel. Never say never to a client, but always be honest and tell them the truth; even if you lose that order, they will thank you for your honesty and they will know they got a straight answer from you. Honesty pays in the long run.
Some of your products now feature QR codes. How does a more traditional sign company keep up with contemporary trends? Do you have any other plans in the pipeline?
We are always looking at what's new and what we can introduce to our existing products – is there a demand for it? Would our clients benefit from it? We have no new plans yet, as we are still working and marketing the QR codes onto cast metal signs.
Much of your output relies on metal; have you been affected by metal thefts?
We have had a few clients losing castings, but it has been minimal as memorials still have, at the moment, taboo status when it comes to the thieves. We are researching various products to help protect and secure our cast metal products.
What do you think are the benefits of exhibiting at events such as the Museums and Heritage Show rather than a specific sign-orientated trade shows?
Visitors get to see our products and can visualise them within their own premises or buildings. We are selling to the end user, not other sign producers, which we do in a large way now. But talking with people who have a need for your unusual products is great and very interesting for us.
What equipment do you use and are you looking to invest in new kit?
Our manufacturing processes go back thousands of years: all we need is sand, patterns and a furnace. Some new 3D engraving machines have given us the facilities to produce 3D castings, coats of arms, Braille and even buildings and faces. At present we are on the edge with regards to new technology for our foundry, but we are always on the look-out for what is new and different and could we use it to enhance our products.
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