Companies big and small continue to fuel innovation and quality jobs within the Hudson Valley, helping the manufacturing sector grow. This week, we turn our focus to FALA Technologies headquartered in Kingston, NY. The company has been in business for over 70 years and built a reputation for creating production equipment for important clients including IBM. In 2015, HV MFG sat down with Frank Falatyn, the company president to discuss its workforce development.
Mr. Falatyn began his career at the age of 16 when he was recognized for his manufacturing talents in part thanks to his father’s working experience. Both his father and grandfather asked Mr. Falatyn to help start a family business named Ulster Tool and Die. The three of them invested their time and money into building a company from the ground up. Mr. Falatyn expressed that he did not think he would be in the family business for long. After witnessing his father get an engineering degree, Mr. Falatyn understood the importance of education in the manufacturing field.
After graduating from Kingston High School, he reflected on his talents within the sciences, specifically chemistry. Consequently, Mr. Falatyn earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and finished first in his class. His professors were so impressed with his work, that they wanted him to become a research assistant. However, Mr. Falatyn had other intensions and wanted to go back into the manufacturing sector. After graduating from college, he began working at GE to make plastics in Indiana. Mr. Falatyn quickly realized how much he missed the Hudson Valley and eventually moved back to New York to continue in the family business.
When Ulster Tool and Die was founded, the company specialized in making production equipment specifically for IBM’s R&D team. IBM eventually became the most prominent customer for the company. However, after IBM downsized in the early 90’s, Ulster Tool and Die needed to reinvent itself in order to gain new traction. As a result, the company changed its name to FALA Technologies. They also bought an empty warehouse in Kingston that was four times the size of their old shop. While the company continued to grow, Mr. Falatyn encountered the loss of both his father and brother. The latter of which was on the Council of Industry’s Board. While the loss was deeply personal, Mr. Falatyn knew he needed to continue the legacy his brother and father helped build. He reached out to the Council of Industry where he took a spot on the board so he could continue to stay in the loop of the manufacturing sector. When asked, what it takes to be a good leader? Mr. Falatyn mentioned the importance of recognizing one’s strengths and filling roles that best utilize them while delegating other important tasks that play into weaknesses.
Looking ahead into the future, Mr. Falatyn highlighted the need to focus on the next generation workforce. This way, new employees can master the skills more seasoned workers have gained throughout the years. In order to stay competitive and continue to innovate, FALA Technologies as well as the entire US manufacturing sector need to invest in workforce development to ensure the skills used by older generations are not lost. As the manufacturing industry takes these challenges head on, FALA Technologies proves that hard work, determination, and resilience go a long way to paving a successful business.