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On August 26, 2019 we took three participants to visit our company’s location in Brakel, Germany. Accompanied by our Eastern Regional Sales Manager Bill Wieland, and joined in Germany by FSB North America Area Manager Reinke Massolle, and FSB International Architectural Consultant Berthold Dieker, the participants were able to experience FSB firsthand. Over the course of the three-day program Stefanie Fudenna, Shima Miabadi, and Scott Collier were given the opportunity to learn about the history of FSB, tour showrooms, view new products and finishes, see our manufacturing process in-action, and explore architectural and design locations in Brakel and surrounding areas such as Düsseldorf and Köln (Cologne).
The program afforded numerous opportunities such as a personal tour of Oswald Mathias Ungers estate, given by his daughter Sofia. Now the archive for Architectural Research, it contains Ungers architecture library, which he began building in the 1950s, as well as the architect's entire artistic legacy. Considered one of the most exclusive collections in the world, the library houses all 29 original volumes of Giovanni Piranesi etchings as well as original etchings submitted for approval to the city of Cologne to finish the Cathedral, which the participants were allowed to open and view.
Read some of the notes from the attendees below:
Stefanie Fudenna, index-d, Hardware Distributor
I began in hardware by working in operations, our project work often brought in orders where sets had to be manually put together and required a lot of attention to detail. In hindsight, I think the fact that FSB sets were so nicely packaged and organized almost made my old operations team feel strange, like they had nothing to tinker with and put together. It is interesting that this very feature is now something I have grown to find highly attractive about FSB projects now.
When I left that traditional hardware dealer and joined Index-d, the focus changed dramatically to the modern, contemporary look. The culture of Index-d and its e-commerce storefront, Better Building Hardware, aimed to highlight sleek, clean, and smart modern designs, of which FSB definitely fits the bill. I had some old residual hesitation about the subrose assemblies, but that is why this trip was so valuable for me. When I was able to see the degree of testing that is done on the lever sets, I was quite impressed. There is a lot of focus and priority on safety and longevity and the real value of good, reliable products - it was really refreshing for me, and something FSB has every right to be proud of. I've been on a few tours of manufacturer shops in the U.S., and I'm not sure that any of them have shown me their internal testing areas, even though many of them have verbiage on their websites about cycle testing, etc. I'm used to having to learn the hard way about cheap metal assemblies that break during installation and cause fire drills to get more parts on the job site ASAP. Those are hard lessons to learn. But those have been invaluable lessons that have shaped how I have navigated decisions about which manufacturers to use on my projects and how I now consult my team when researching and curating our list of hardware for the e-commerce site.
It is such an impressive, organized operation, with ongoing efforts toward efficiency and top-level performance; that was very clear. Getting to walk through the factory and see some of the custom orders waiting to be shipped to their new homes was really enlightening and inspiring for thinking of new ways to work with FSB in the future - ways that I did not know were possible before.
I was very impressed by the warmth, values, and work ethic of all the people that I met while I was there. Getting to ask technical questions about mounting assemblies and have some back and forth with your product engineers was really interesting and helpful. For me, understanding the set up and expected installation helps me to more confidently bring better options to the table for my clients. I have definitely been approaching the beginning of new project requests feeling like I have another potential partner to bring to the table as a manufacturer.
Shima Miabadi – Handel Architects LLP Associate
I was pleasantly surprised by the vast selection of products offered by FSB. I have typically specified FSB door hardware only, however the showroom really opened my eyes to all the various products that I could use on future jobs, which would help unify the design. For architects, it’s hellish to go through hardware specs and to specify so many different products that all come from different manufacturers but are all supposed to look the same. Having all the various hardware come from 1 manufacturer guarantees a uniform look, finish and quality making my job much easier.
I thoroughly enjoyed the factory tour. Learning about how all the hardware is made was the most interesting part for me, because it’s something that no one really thinks about. All the hard work that goes into creating 1 lever is incredible and makes me think about design differently.
I have always been a fan of the products, but now that I know there is more to select from, I’m looking forward to incorporate FSB into more projects.
Scott Collier – Job Captain for Dirk Denison Architects
I had already thought of FSB as a quality fabricator but was really impressed by the site visit. Beyond the precision manufacturing process, hearing about the new initiatives towards continued improvement and efficiency really impressed me as I believe it’s a critical part of modern manufacturing.
My biggest insight was the history FSB has with designers and architects to always be on the lookout for new designs and styles. I loved the ancillary tours of Dusseldorf and Koln as well! Berthold was a gracious host and his knowledge of these areas was impressive. Most impressed by the tour of the Ungers Foundation – what a unique collection!
Photos: By Attendees