Small Business Q&A: Jim Toal

Jim Toal from Fairco Windows and Doors. Fairco have hired through the recession and continue to hire now. So how have they do this at a time of deep economic turmoil in the country?

So how did Fairco start out?

We started in November 1998, where we took a small lease in a showroom in Clontarf. It took us about 6 weeks to get the place ready because we had very little money so any renovations or paint work was done by us. So we started trading in January 1999. From those beginnings we’ve evolved to what we are now.

You were hiring through the recession, how?

Well the past number of years have been tough for everybody and around 2007 it was obvious that the industry demand for windows and doors was drying up quickly. So we had to rapidly think about what we were doing and more importantly how we were doing it. The difference between us and other windows and doors sellers was that we were dealing directly with the public and not with contractors or building suppliers. That meant we had established a direct link with the users of our products rather than simply supplying the market. So we focussed intently on our customers and what they wanted in their homes when it came to windows and doors. Now during that period even up to today, the customer has become very educated. They weren’t afraid to shop around and became extremely price conscious. So while other suppliers were looking for ways to cut their costs in what they provided to the customer we did the opposite, we offered more.

Your showroom plays a big part in your sales, why is that?

Well over the past number of years it was clear that builders were not building and so no show houses were available to show people the look and feel of something. So in 2010 we bought a three square foot building and inside we built a scaled model of a Hampton’s beach house. Then we added the windows and doors to it and created a visual experience. We get 20 to 30 customers a day visiting the showroom and this gives people the ability to see both sides. So the outside look of the windows but also how the windows could match inside the house with color scheme, coving, skirting boards etc.

So what now for Fairco?

Well we’re about to launch burglar-proof windows. We’re so confident about this product that it is insurance backed. So if you are unfortunate enough to have somebody try and break in with these installed in your home and they get damaged we are prepared to offer €1,000 against the cost of replacement, €1,000 for the inconvenience of somebody breaking in, and €1,000 towards the deductible in your home insurance policy. So we’re launching that and expect to add to the 10,000 customers we have already.


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