Falcon Asphalt Repair Equipment - an industry leader in the design and development of asphalt hot boxes, track distributors and recyclers used for pothole repair - is not only headquartered in the Great Lakes Bay Region, but is growing.
Falcon is the brainchild of Michael Groulx. In the early 2000s, Groulx, an engineer by trade - was working for a company that made propane, small capacity asphalt hot boxes. Asphalt hot boxes are essentially large heating boxes that enable road maintenance crews to keep asphalt warm enough to fill potholes while moving from site to site.
Groulx saw an opportunity through a product service gap in the industry. “I knew that the market was a lot bigger than what was currently being offered,” said Groulx.
As Groulx worked to improve asphalt hot boxes, he turned to end users to further shape the design. “I started talking to the end users. I would ask them, ‘If you were to build this better yourself, what would you do differently?’”
Michael Groulx's new asphalt hotbox system.
By listening to customers, Groulx was able to design a new hotbox asphalt system and launch his own company - Falcon Asphalt Repair Equipment - in March 2004. In August of the same year, the company was able to expand into its first manufacturing location in Midland. By 2014, Falcon had been recognized as an INC 5000 company six years in a row, had expanded into 7 different manufacturing facilities across Midland, and had started to attract interest from outside investment firms.
Such rapid growth came with its own challenges and opportunities for Falcon.
“You know when you own a business that you get to the point where you recognize that our buildings are too small. We were running out of parking. We were stuck with a decision. Run the business like that or go out and get help,” said Groulx.
Groulx’s desire to grow his business led for him to sell Falcon to TMW Enterprises, an investment organization out of Troy, MI.
“It was all about the timing,” said Groulx who still works at the company and serves as the Vice President of Engineering.
Falcon's ribbon cutting at their new headquarters in Freeland.
Since TMW Enterprises purchased Falcon, the company has continued to expand and improve operations. To date, the company has partnerships with over 30 different states’ departments of transportation to provide asphalt hot box equipment. The company has also continued to reinvest in the Great Lakes Bay Region and Bay County by recently constructing a new headquarter facility in Freeland. The ribbon cutting for the new facility was held on February 12.
The new headquarter facility is located on Salzburg Road. It includes 48,000 square feet dedicated to operations and 5,000 square feet for office space. Most importantly, the 15-acre plot of land contains ample room for Falcon to expand operations in the future.
According to Michael Day, Falcon's President, the new facility will also allow Falcon to improve productivity and bring manufacturing operations completely under one roof.
“We wanted a more efficient way to operate our business. Our new facility allows for a unified workflow process, allows for better communication, provides great lighting and air quality, as well as provides an overall improved work environment for our employees,” said Day.
Falcon's President, Michael Day.
Falcon is also dedicated to creating new jobs in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Over the next three years, Falcon plans to create 50 new jobs at its facility.
“The Great Lakes Bay Region’s greatest strength is the mid-west work ethic that comes from our workforce. Our employees [current and future] are not afraid to work and work hard,” said Day.
Day also mentioned that there is great opportunity for career growth at a company like Falcon.
“When you’re a 55-65 people company, you can do multiple roles. You might be in manufacturing one year, but the next you might be in a dealer support role. A company like us is a great place for somebody who wants to work hard and have additional opportunities presented to him or her based on where they want their career to go,” said Day.
"We think we might be able to capture some folks who want to be a part of the skills trades type of work that is so needed in the manufacturing process," says Falcon President Michael Day.
The company also plans to conduct outreach to local universities and high schools in order to create a talent pipeline and internship opportunities.
“We want to be a responsible corporate citizen. With that in mind, we are working with local high schools and colleges to show the community that we’re committed. We want young people to be exposed to a career opportunity that they might not have known about or even heard about. We think that we might be able to capture some folks who want to be a part of the skills trades type of work that is so needed in manufacturing companies,” said Day.
Day also stated that Falcon ability to grow within the Great Lakes Bay Region and Bay County would not have been possible without Bay Future, Williams Township, MDOT, and other local partners.
“Through the company’s journey, there has been plenty of help. From the investment company, to the people working on the manufacturing side of the company, to our local partners,” said Day.