With offices in New York, Turkey, and Qatar, materials procurement and logistics leader Framaco is open somewhere almost twenty-four hours a day. The company has also expanded to provide full turnkey construction management services overseas for the United States government. It was founded in 1990 by Gilles and Paul Kacha and is still run by the two brothers today.
Framaco runs two Divisions. The construction management division acts as a Prime contractor for design-build and bid-build projects, primarily for the United States Government’s Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the USAID. Established in 2003, this division has successfully delivered eighteen construction projects from start to finish with a total value exceeding $800 Million, and is currently completing the construction of the all new U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby.
The other Division is the procurement management business, and this was the foundation of the company when Framaco was created nearly thirty years ago. The U.S. government spends billions of dollars annually building facilities outside of the country. Since these healthcare centers, military facilities, embassies, and consulate buildings have specifications from American designers and are funded by the government, the materials must also come from the U.S.
The role that Framaco has taken has been to focus on standards and specifications made in compliance with the Buy American Act, passed in 1933. The act requires the U.S. government to prioritize American-made products in any purchase. The company does not need to compete with the local contractors in other countries and does not use subcontractors in procuring these materials and providing logistics services to get the materials to the overseas contractors that work for the U.S. government.
Complete construction projects are broken up into sixteen divisions as defined by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) to be carried out in order. Initially, Framaco’s supply chain business focused solely on the division that specialized in Architectural doors, hardware and windows. The company’s fully trained staff gained a wealth of knowledge covering projects from small facilities to large aircraft hangars, airports, and mixed-use facilities.
“The contractors found our strategic approach very enthusing and unique since we acted as a single-source responsibility to their contracts, bringing to them a large array of products. So, of course, this has added value, and this is how it became an exceptional win-win for us and for them,” says Gilles Kacha, co-founder and CEO at Framaco.
Its vendors in the U.S. are manufacturers that mainly focus on the North American market. These companies welcome the opportunity to serve American contractors overseas with the support and experience of Framaco.
“They don’t know how to approach a project in many corners of the world, and suddenly they have this U.S. company, based in New York with established overseas branches, staffed with very well trained personnel to take their product from, say, Ohio and move it to 20 to 30 countries around the world. In the past two years, we set ourselves a strategic plan and penetrated a new marketplace in the Pacific region and have since landed several new clients and projects there. We plan on growing aggressively in that region that is hungry for professional groups such as Framaco,” says Gilles.
The company has established exclusivity with its vendors. It does not act as a representative; it is in the role of true distributor. Many manufacturers in the U.S. are searching for ways to expand beyond the borders into international markets, and Framaco is an excellent partner for the task because of its years of expertise and experience. It has worked in every corner of the world, counting 78 countries this year, on a robust portfolio of American-manufactured projects.
Framaco has also expanded into the commercial sector. One project Gilles calls his “crown jewel” is the Sidra Medical and Research Center in Doha, Qatar. The $6 Billion project is one of the largest medical centers in the world, at four million square feet, and was designed by Cesar Pelli and managed by the U.S.-based company AECOM. All the products and materials for this massive hospital had to be sourced from the United States. Framaco completed the supply of thousands of doors, hardware and state of the art access control for the project and was rated as one of the top subcontractors of the dozens subcontractors on that healthcare facility.
“Everything that we do involves value-added engineering that very few companies are capable of doing. Additionally, after we do the design for these contractors, all the engineering, shop drawings, and technical submittals, we also move the products, and that is where the logistics come in,” explains Gilles.
If a contractor has an American project to complete in Guam, for example, Framaco will skillfully select, estimate and procure while contributing to designing and engineering the products that are then consolidated in its warehouses in New Jersey and transported to the defined destination into Guam. The company provides its services as one complete operation.
The Framaco team thrives on communication and employee engagement, and this became more complicated as a result of having to adjust to a new work style during the pandemic. However, the leadership faced the challenge head-on, and the company has pulled through quite successfully.
In the first few months of the pandemic, the company equipped its employees with the technology tools to work at home and maintain consistent communication. The leadership was pleased by the results, realizing that working from home actually increased productivity for its sales force. “You end up working more because your desk is right there, and you maintain productivity and keep up with meetings on the client and team sides, so the result of the pandemic was it grew our Division revenues, and our sales were up twenty-two percent in 2020 over 2019,” says Gilles.
The strong team spirit has led to real transparency within the workplace. All department employees are acquainted with each other’s work to ensure a seamless and effective transition if and when someone needs to be interchanged into a project for any reason. The company also rewards its people for exceptional performance. In the procurement division, the turnover rate is less than two percent, and some staff members have been with Framaco for over twenty years, which speaks volumes about the company culture.
Moving into the future, Framaco intends to stay ahead of technological advancements in the industry. The access controls and building security systems continue to improve, and these are key components to any project. Blast proofing and fire and life safety systems are always a priority, and it is important to stay up-to-date concerning the technology in this area. Acoustics is another part of construction that continues to develop. The company constantly trains its personnel to be educated on new product generations, and in turn deal skillfully with the new demands from owners, designers and engineers.
Employees are invited to all sorts of regular training and new certification sessions in the U.S., and before the pandemic, they would even travel overseas for these opportunities. “We are training them all the time, and as the person responsible, I communicate with them daily. I spend, on average, two to three hours a day in virtual communication with my sales and technical staff in the U.S. and internationally every morning. From 9:00 am until almost 12:00 pm, I am in full communication via video conferencing with our various teams addressing ongoing and new client projects, along with logistics matters,” says Gilles.
Framaco Procurement Division has grown between ten and twenty percent annually since its first year in business and attributes much of this success to the repeat business and track record it has experienced over the years. “Most of our clients come back to us. I have customers that I started with on one project in 1991, and we have now completed in excess of fifty projects with them. This is the type of relationship that we have forged over thirty years with these clients and these vendors, which for me is a measure of our success,” says Gilles.
Gilles makes clear, however, that the true backbone of the company’s achievements is the skilled and experienced employees. “It’s all about the team, integrity, loyalty, and the collaborative and excellent relationships. That’s how our company was built and how it has been growing over the years, and we plan on continuing that thriving trajectory in the future.”