Established in 1984, South Australian-based FCT Group (FCT) now comprises of two key business units.
FCT Combustion is a world leader in combustion burners and control systems used for optimising high-temperature processing plants, and FCT Flames specialises in the design, manufacture and operation of spectacular flame effects for ceremonial, sporting and other events. Think of any Olympic Games since Sydney 2000 and FCT Flames has been involved.
As a project-based business, FCT’s major challenge is managing cashflow and getting access to finance to support project delivery. Being mostly export-focused also adds to the complexity.
“Funding has become a limitation for us. The projects we work on are in the 3 to 5 million mark. For us to receive an advance payment to help fund the delivery of the project, our customers expect a bank guarantee in return,” explained Con Manias, Managing Director of FCT Group.
Because banks traditionally use bricks and mortar as security, FCT quickly runs out of actual bank facility. Having secured three large contracts in Algeria, Turkey and Malaysia, FCT Combustion needed to increase their existing bond facility with Export Finance Australia to $1.29 million.
“Export Finance Australia’s support over the past four years has been critical to our success. They work with our bank and provides a guarantee to them. Our bank then issues the guarantee to our customer on our behalf. We do provide security to Export Finance Australia but it’s not the full 100% cover the banks need, so there is some free cash that allows us to carry on with the business,” said Con.
“Without Export Finance Australia’s help, there’s no way we could have reached the levels we are reaching now as a business. Our average turnover until 2014 was about $6 million per year. Since their support, we’ve grown to over $20 million and this year that figure could potentially grow to $30 million.
“Export Finance Australia is playing a huge part in us being able to expand and do the things we are doing. There’s no way we could have done what we’ve done over the past three years without their support. We’d be half the size we are now,” said Con.