Engineering success in the oil and gas sector: Forain, an Italian company
Forain was founded in 1975 by brothers Giuseppe and Roberto Ferrari. Both had gained experience working for companies in the engineering sector and felt they could both fill a niche and satisfy their desire for independence. Today, together with Ferrari second generation since 2010, the company that they still head has annual sales of around 17 million EUR and generates 95% of its turnover in export markets.
“It may sound like a cliché, but the company really operates like a big family,” says Sales Manager Fabrizio Vitali, who joined Forain in 2006. “I started out with Forain as a project manager and was offered this post in 2010. What I like about it is the autonomy I have. Many of my colleagues have been here a long time as well and we work very well together, and with the company owners. We are entrusted with the responsibility for our own work but also the independence to take decisions. That really makes working here fun and rewarding.”
2008 marked a watershed year for the company as it was taken the decision to offer turnkey plants. “We could see that the market was changing,” says Mr. Vitali. “It was important that we moved with it. We also invested in software that moved our prototyping activities into the virtual realm and gave us better control over the final product. The advantage is that we can be much faster in the production of documentation. Additionally, when customers see which processes we can cover, that increases our credibility.”
Another important step was taken in 2012 with the decision to open a subsidiary in Singapore. “We wanted to increase our competitiveness in the Asian market and needed local presence,” explains Mr. Vitali. “This year, we opened another subsidiary in Turkey to serve the Middle Eastern market.”
Around 30 people work at Forain’s headquarters in Milan with a further 15 at its offices in Singapore and nine in Turkey. The company is purely focused on engineering services and sub-contracts the actual manufacture of the plants and equipment it designs to trusted suppliers.
“We have no production capacity of our own but have longstanding relationships with several suppliers in northern Italy, whom we can rely on to deliver a quality product,” outlines Mr. Vitali. “We produce the technical specifications in accordance with our client’s requirements and buy production capacity from these suppliers. We also personally oversee the production process and make regular checks throughout.”
Forain specializes in engineering services for the oil and gas sector in the areas of filtration and separation, heating, gas conditioning and pipelines. Its activities span the globe as its expertise finds it in demand from the leading companies in the industry.
Here at Forain, the employees are entrusted with the responsibility for their own work and also the autonomy to make their own decisions. That makes working here both fun and rewarding. Fabrizio VitaliSales Manager
“After so many years in this field, we have a wide knowledge and experience,” continues Mr. Vitali. “It starts with soil decontamination at the building site and ends with the handover of a turnkey facility. We are particularly well-known for our filtration technology and are currently working on several projects in this area.”
According to Mr. Vitali, being well-organized and working to a pre-determined structure is the key to success in the engineering sector. “We are happy to outsource production, and find that works well for us, but we would not like to do the same for the engineering part of the project,” the Sales Manager comments. “Everything we do is tailored to the customer’s needs. There is no standard solution. While this is a challenge on the one hand, it is what makes our work so interesting on the other.”
Although the job brings obvious rewards regarding autonomy and variety in the working conditions, the engineering sector is suffering acutely from a skills shortage. “We are finding recruitment increasingly difficult and currently have two vacancies we are struggling to fill,” admits Mr. Vitali. “I am work-addicted, I simply can’t get enough.”
It also seems Forain’s customers can’t get enough. The company’s order books are full and each completed project is swiftly followed by the next one. “We work for the big players in the industry like ENI, Samsung and Ansaldo as well as smaller companies,” notes Mr. Vitali. “We give them all the same high quality service. We are certified to ISO 14001, ISO 9001 and ISO 1800/45001 as a guarantee of that quality. Our goal is to continue to grow in the future. We will continue to invest in our employees to attract and retain the best engineers we can find. They are the future for the company.”