Words and Photos: Fraco
A BRICKLAYER STARTED IT ALL, AND HIS TWO DAUGHTERS NOW CARRY THE LEGACY.
Fraco has been a major player in the access industry for many years, but did you know it all began when Armand Rainville, a mason, rented three mast climbers for a worksite his team was laying brick on?
At first, the reaction of his crew was: “What are these things, we don’t need them to do our job.” Armand had heard of these machines but had never used them before. He decided to give them a go on one of his jobs.
Because he had already paid for the first month, he told them he would come back to pick them up at the end of his rental. But three weeks later, his superintendent called him and said, “Well, you know, maybe we could use two more.” Armand immediately understood the value of these units and proceeded to purchase Fraco. His goal was to go across borders with this new venture and benefit masons and bricklayers all over the world with his new company. In partnership with his wife, Claudette – who left the nutrition industry to help the business grow – they have built a brand that is respected all around the world.
The first mast climbers evolved throughout the years. They became our FRSM-20K, loved by bricklayers & masons, and the ACT-8, faster, used by general contractors and bricklayers who want more speed.
And the company also grew — In 2016, after being in the leadership role for 25 years, Armand & Claudette passed the reins to Armand’s two daughters, Emmanuelle & Julie, who have been in the role of co-presidents since.
Emmanuelle and Julie carry leadership in their blood, in their values, in their convictions and in their hearts.
Emmanuelle joined the business in 1999, and Julie in 2003, but in a sense, they have been working with their father since forever – here is a testimony from Julie:
“My father was a single parent, juggling between his masonry business and raising three kids. My sister and I were raised in a house full of construction workers since my father’s office was in our family home. I remember going with him to job sites during the weekend: I’d sit on a pallet and watch him lay bricks. As a kid, I loved it. I felt like I was part of his team and loved the camaraderie and the friendship between him and his colleagues. At 16, I worked for his masonry company. It was very challenging physically for a young lady, but without knowing, I was getting more and more comfortable in the construction world.“
When the time came to talk about succession, in their father’s mind, it was clear—only one of his daughters would be named president of the company… But for Emmanuelle and Julie, there was only one option: to do it together. Five years later, everything is still going on in harmony and trust. In 2018, they completed the acquisition of a factory in Spain. In 2019, Fraco had its biggest growth and its most successful year. In 2020, five new products had been launched in the past five years… And through all this, participatory management has continued to be a pillar for Fraco. In 2021, Fraco celebrated its 30th anniversary and dreamed of its next 30 years.
Emmanuelle & Julie dare and take risks but never endanger the prosperity of the company. They have weathered the recession of 2008 and now the pandemic of 2020. Their leadership is inspiring to their teams and the people around them.
INVOLVEMENT IN THE INDUSTRY
Being active members of the MCAA is indispensable for the team at Fraco. Armand & Claudette were highly involved, and now, Corinne Dutil, our sales director, has fallen in love with the association and helps as much as possible. She is a co-chairman of the South of 40 committee and is involved in helping the masonry industry shine on social media through the use of videos. The idea behind it all is to have members share their reality: What is it like being a mason? Who made you dream of this job? What makes you most proud? By getting to the heart of the hard-working humans who make up this association, we get to access a part of the work that we can all connect with. And that is Corinne’s goal—to connect humans together through the passion of masonry.
Fraco is a supplier, not a contractor, but our mission, with our mast climbers, is to help masons. We are truly grateful to be involved and to have the chance to participate and help the MCAA shine across our continent. In a world of giants, Fraco will always stay a family business, always manufacture in North America and always learn from our mistakes and grow with our clients.
Our next project, which has been in the works for many years now, is the Fraco Exoskeleton. Because we want it to be as perfect as it can be, the development of the suit has been an arduous one but is now in testing with the manufacturer and masons on a worksite. We have never been closer to being able to offer a tool to our customers that will allow them to protect their health and have more endurance.
OPERATIONS & PROJECTS
Fraco carries 4 lines of products:
- Mast Climbers
- Construction Hoists
- Transport Platforms
- Permanent Industrial Elevators
Our products are manufactured in Quebec at our factory in Saint-Mathias-sur-Richelieu, and our three branches in the United States allow us to be close to our partners and customers.
Fraco also rents mast climbers and transports platforms all over the United States through our branches in Baltimore & Detroit.
We have worked on hundreds of projects over the years, directly from our manufacturing plant and with our dealers. From installing our mast climbers on The Pentagon, to helping rebuild after the 9/11 attacks, to supplying transport platforms for the construction of the shield of the nuclear plant in Chernobyl, to installing permanent elevators in the pillars in the Tappan Zee Bridge… Fraco is whom people go to when they need solutions. Our fully galvanized products are loved by masons laying brick on a 3-story apartment complex, as much as a general contractor needing six hoists for the construction of a hospital. It makes us proud to be able to supply products that we know have a positive impact on the productivity, safety and well-being of its users.