At FBS, we do things a bit differently. Or at least — different from a lot of U.S. companies.
In the United States, the mentality is generally to get everything done as quickly as possible so we can move on to the next project to make more money. We’re not saying there’s anything “wrong” with being productive and profitable — what company doesn’t want to be productive and profitable?
What we’re saying is that there comes a point where quality can suffer because of the rush to wrap up projects. And when the quality suffers, your reputation will suffer.
Our business philosophy is all about maintaining high quality security doors and windows for luxury residences and office spaces. And there’s simply no way we could keep our standards so high if we were willing to cut any corners.
The artisans at the factory in Italy aren’t going to make any sacrifices that degrade the quality of our security doors and windows. They’re going to do it until they get it right — preferably on the first try.
For our team in the U.S., it’s sometimes a struggle to find people with this level of commitment to their craft. It’s not impossible, but as previously discussed — it’s just not ingrained in the American mentality in the same way it is in Italy or other older countries.
Fortunately for us, we’ve managed to find people who are dedicated to maintaining our incredibly high standards. One of them is a more recent addition to the FBS family, and we wanted to introduce him to everyone.
Please join us in welcoming Jonathan Hamilton.
Top of the Line Carpentry
We found Jonathan Hamilton, an extraordinary carpenter by anyone’s definition, kind of by accident. We didn’t list a job opening or anything like that. We were looking for someone who could fulfill a very specific set of criteria, and it just so happened that Jonathan met those expectations and then some.
Jonathan started his professional career in journalism. Specifically, he wanted to write for National Geographic. Heavily influenced by the prophetic work of Alan Rabinowitz, he wanted his focus to be jaguars.
As is the case for so many people’s first career choices, journalism wasn’t working out the way Jonathan expected. His post-collegiate period was a volatile time (2008 — just as the recession was hitting) and the work itself wasn’t what he wanted it to be.
After a while, he started to take to heart something his great-grandfather had told him — that he’d find passion working with his hands. It just so happened that this great-grandfather made guitars, so he knew a thing or two about working with his hands.
It was around this time that a program was being offered for people who wanted to get into trades, such as carpentry. They’d get a full scholarship, minus some expenses, such as books. Jonathan decided to give it a shot, and when he was done, he had a new career opportunity and had only spent $100 on his education (it was for a textbook).
Trades are Always Needed
Jonathan loved his new apprenticeship. He learned from two master carpenters: one from Hungary and another from France. He loved being active and learning new things and yes… working with his hands.
One thing that Jonathan stresses regularly is the importance of skilled labor and tradesman. We’ve had a push for people going to college for a long time, both from parents and from educational institutions. Of course, that’s led to a lower percentage of skilled workers and frankly — a frustrating and unfair stigma.
“There’s a stigma that exists that you’re not intelligent if you get into the trades, or if you work with your hands, but that’s not true,” says Jonathan. Aiding this stigma is the decreased focus on school courses that emphasize skilled labor — classes like home economics or shop.
To make matters worse, many tradesmen are retiring without nearly enough apprentices to replace them. So not only are we experiencing less encouragement to get into the trades, but we’re seeing an exodus as many reach retirement age.
“Everyone’s heard that saying — that you need to do well in school of you’ll end up becoming a plumber. Like there’s something wrong with working with your hands to fix a problem,” Jonathan reminds us. The thing is, the trades will always be needed, whether it’s carpentry, plumbing, or electrical work.
“In 2020, when people were being laid off left and right, Joe the Plumber had never been so busy in his life,” says Jonathan. And it’s true — the trades will be needed always, no matter what. In fact, he’d love to train more carpenters in the future.
It’s called Skilled Labor for a Reason
“As a carpenter, I can attest that a door is quietly one of the few things you can install in your home that might require every power tool you own,” quips Jonathan. While it may seem straightforward — you have a door on hinges (or a pivot point) — but so much of a door’s proper function is based on proper installation. This is even more important for security doors.
You need the opening to be plumb and level, you need the proper structural base so the security of the door isn’t compromised, and any slight misstep could be catastrophic to the install. With regular wood doors, you may be able to sand down the door itself to match any imperfections in the frame or floor, but that is not at all possible with our custom security doors.
Our security doors are shipped intact. There is no assembly on site. We do this for a few reasons — the largest of which is to maintain the security aspects of the door.
The point is: when your custom security door arrives, it will be uncrated in one huge piece. And installing it will be both simple and complicated. It will be simple because it’s a door — and contractors install doors all the time.
But it will be complicated because it’s our door. It’s heavy, there might be electrical or biometrics involved, and it will require a team of people to get it installed properly.
Quality vs. Quantity
Most American companies are dealing in volume, and that includes door and window manufacturers. It’s entirely possible to follow this business model and create high-quality products. It’s literally what the assembly line concept was based on — create the same piece on the same line so the people making it know exactly what they’re doing and what to watch out for.
Every car made all around the world is made using this same concept, along with countless other products. Regular aluminum doors are also made on assembly lines, and to some extent, windows are as well.
Windows must be custom-built to fit each opening, so windows manufacturing assembly lines follow the same process. However, the size of cut pieces changes with each window, so workers can’t crank out 100 of the same item in one shift.
Windows manufacturers know what they’re doing though. They’ve managed to get workflows down that allow them to create as much as possible — they’d have to figure this out to do the volume they want to.
The FBS Way
The difference between us and other manufacturers is that we don’t care about volume. We’re dedicated to quality and the quantity is completely irrelevant to us.
We’re focused on doing things right. We want your custom security doors and windows to be absolutely perfect because your luxury residence deserves nothing less.
We’re not cutting corners. We’re not skimping out on materials. We’re certainly not rushing Italian artisans while they’re using their expert skills crafted over decades.
We’re building custom security doors and windows that look more like works of art than simple doors. (Of course, it can look like a simple door, if that’s what you want.) And you can’t rush art. Nor would we want our artisans to do so because the quality would undoubtedly suffer.
It’s this mentality that drew Jonathan to FBS in the first place. He was tired of seeing contractors expected to degrade the quality of their work. He took more pride in his work than that, which lines up with the FBS mindset pretty well.
“FBS is doing its best to preserve the craftsmanship and integrity of a small factory in Italy,” says Jonathan, and a significant portion of that is maintaining the artistic nature at the highest quality. “Europe is one of the last bastions — it’s still holding onto the trades, unlike the United States.”
As we always say: we don’t believe you should have to sacrifice your security for aesthetics, and you certainly shouldn’t have to sacrifice your aesthetic for security.
Separating from the Pack
All of this talk about quality and doing things right seems easy enough in theory, but in practice, it can be quite difficult.
Jonathan has a working theory about contractors — and as someone who used to be an independent contractor, he developed this theory on the job. After working with countless contractors, he’s experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Jonathan says that the lowest rung on the worker ladder are people who will take your money, and either do a terrible job or ghost you completely. They don’t have any pride in their work and are just looking to move on to the next money-making opportunity. He calls them snakes.
The next rung on the ladder is for people trying to maximize profits. It’s fair to ask who isn’t trying to maximize profits, but these types of workers who are trying to crank through jobs and don’t want to spend any extra time than absolutely necessary.
Their business is entirely based on volume and they aren’t particularly concerned about going above and beyond the call of duty. There is certainly room in the market for workers like this, but they’re priced lower than workers doing high-end jobs. He calls them coyotes.
The next rung up the ladder are workers who take a great amount of pride in their work. They want to get the job done right on the first try. Their work is consistent and of high quality. Jonathan calls them lions and he believes that a significant number of people fall into this category.
In his experience, lions are excellent contractors — the only downfall is that they don’t often think (or don’t want to think) about the big picture. They don’t want to necessarily own a business. They want to use their skills, feel good about their work, and go home.
They’re focused on the day-to-day operations and checking things off the list. Lions are critical in the process, their expertise and dedication to quality work invaluable. They’re often the ones who discover ways to improve products and key components.
But even so — lions need someone above them who can focus on strategy.
And finally, there’s the top rung of the ladder. These workers are strategic and productive. They’re able to build from the ground up, putting pieces (and people) into place that will help a business thrive. Jonathan calls them eagles.
Eagles can take an idea and turn it into a lucrative business.
Finding Reliable Contractors with Integrity
In his role at FBS, one of his major responsibilities is finding contractors that have integrity so that you can 1) take that weight off your shoulders and 2) be sure that the contractors chosen have been vetted by someone with experience.
“There are a lot of coyotes out there,” says Jonathan. “I’m the bridge point between the client and the contractors, so I’m meeting a lot of them across the country.” Essentially, Jonathan acts (in part) as a project manager, which he believes everyone deserves.
“Clients don’t know how to differentiate coyotes and snakes from lions and eagles — and that’s not their fault. They just don’t know. And sometimes it’s hard to tell, even for me,” says Jonathan, and he has been a contractor and still works with them regularly.
Vetting reliable contractors is one of the many reasons we recommend Concierge Installation Services to our clients. If you know of good contractors, you’re more than welcome to go with Basic Installation Services, but know that we’re always here to help if you change your mind.
Getting Started on Your Custom Security Doors and Windows
If you’re ready to talk about your home security needs, whether it’s custom doors (complete with hidden compartments), hurricane-certified windows, or even a comprehensive security check with a team of government-trained experts, we’d love to talk to you.
It doesn’t matter where you live or what level of security you need — if you can dream it, we can do it.
We can ship your home security doors and windows anywhere across the globe. To date, we’ve shipped all across the U.S., including California, Chicago, New York, Florida, as well as Jamaica, and various parts of Europe.
If you’re ready to learn more about how we can work with your architects and interior designers to accomplish your goals, contact ustoday.