< transcript from the video above - "Company History" >
by: Jon Francis
Okay, so back in 1985 thereabouts, my dad started his business. He was a sheet metal worker, and he started a business on the side. He was having lots of kids -- there’s eight of us, would’ve been nine. And so he began to do work on the side building chimney caps or making guards for machinery equipment. He did it starting out in the basement of our boarding house that he managed for the church. And so we got a little - me and my brother’s got a little bit of exposure there and then he put us to work. I mean, I remember one time he was like, “This piece of inch and a quarter plate weighs 1600 lbs; let’s pick it up off the truck.” We’re out there and we’re trying. Throughout the years as that progressed, he was working with us, but he also was working another job. And my dad was an extremely hard worker -- very, very diligent -- and provided for us and was - I understand now the challenges that he faced. But as he went forward, we began to grow to the point to where he decided to go full time in his business. And so he went full time, rented a shop, and we began sweeping floors and doing little things like cutting metal out. And maybe every once in a while we’d run a drill press or things like that. And as we progressed even further, we began to learn to fabricate sheet metal, learned to weld some things.
When I was about 18, I began to actually have some responsibilities running a crew. We’d go out and we’d do mechanical piping. We’d do millwright type work, you know, replacing motors or rebuilding pumps, or putting chains on conveyers, that type of thing. And I remember a distinct time when I went out and my dad sent me to do some mechanical piping. First time I really had done it, but I’d been through some training and welding and gotten my certification for pipe welding. And I got there and the guy said, “Okay, what we want to do here is run the steam line and some condensate and put in a steam trap and check valve and a wash drainer and a globe valve and water separator” or whatever else he had going on there, and I’m like, “Uh-huh.” I didn’t have any idea what those things were.
And so, fortunately -- and this is another example of how the grace of God has just carried us through -- that man was so kind to me when I was humble and said, “Look, man, I know I’m supposed to know what I’m doing, but I really don’t.” And he’s like, “Well, come on, son.” He was an older man, and he pretty much taught me the trade of mechanical piping systems and steam systems, and I was real thankful for that. And I think my dad - he was also a Christian man that witnessed and shared and had a big heart and gave, and so he had a testimony. And I just thank the Lord for all throughout those years of being able to work with the brethren or work with people that got to hear a testimony. And as we came up and there again when I was about 18 I started leading a crew. And then about the time I was 22, I was managing.
In 2004, I owned my first company. My dad started it for me, and I was a terrible manager. I had a lot to learn. It was like putting a kid in charge. You know, you don’t know what you don’t know. And so - but the grace of God was there and merciful and helped us, and we learned, and we grew. And then I became an owner a year later with dad and partner at Calco Enterprises Incorporated. And that partnership - with my brother and Tim Bouie and Mark Francis - so there was four of us - lasted until the end of 2013. And the beginning of 2014, I started Francis Fabricators and Directors, LLC, which is the company I have now, but I converted it to an S corporation in the beginning of ’15.
So that’s a little bit of the history.
My brother was a big influence on me growing up. He started work before me. We’d get out of school in high school and we’d go to work. We’d get out at noon sometimes and so we’d go up there to the shop and we would work some long hours. It wasn’t unusual for us to go in on a Friday afternoon and work 15-16 hours -- wee hours of the morning -- or in Saturday morning and then go back to work and over the weekend work 60 hours for my dad.
But my brother -- going back -- my brother was a key influence in training me because he learned the trade first. And that man won’t let you slide. I remember taking a what’s a called a piece of tungsten used in what we call a tig welder -- it’s actually a GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding), and he said “Go sharpen this for me on the bench grinder."
So I went over and sharpened the tungsten and came back. I thought I’d done a great job, but no, it wasn’t good enough. And I went back about four times, but it was that attention to detail and him training me to pay attention to the minutest detail that really gave me a leg up in coming in and running a business so I know that’s important. And so I’m thankful for my family history.
Francis Steel, when I started that, I had one contract that I didn’t have any idea how I was going to get that done. I had no, like I said, when we closed the business I was a partner with with my dad and the other three men, we lost everything. We let the building the go back. We let all the men go. We lost all the welding machines, the cranes, the forklifts, the excavators, and the bobcats, all the equipment that we had. And we had no money. We had no income. We weren’t doing any work. And so when I came in, I didn’t know what I was going to do. And this one contractor approached me. “I want you to do this work.” And I didn’t know how I was going to do it, and I told him, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” But because of the history of coming out of where my dad and they said, “Listen, we know you. We want you doing our work. We will front you the money that you need. We will get you what you need. We will rent your equipment. Whatever you have to do, we will get it going for you.” And it was by that grace shown to me that I was able to actually operate in the beginning because there was no way I was going to be able to do that.
And so a little bit of that and the employees that I had that sacrifice, that said, “Hey, we know that you’re starting out. We know you have nothing. We’re going to work with you. We know that you’ll pay us when you can. We know that this thing is something worth pursuing. We want to be with you. We want to work for you, and we will help you.” And I appreciate those men -- handful of men, four or five of us -- that really worked ourselves to the bone and worked for free and just did a lot of sacrificing.
And so that kind of is little baby steps that we took. And we couldn’t take on anything big, and we just took what we could. And as the time progressed, we got more and more and more and more to where over the past few years now we’re running, you know, 25-30 men or employees -- some of those are ladies -- in the company. And Francis Steel is getting a lot of opportunities and we are pursing and have just been notified that we will receive AIC Certification. And so there’s a lot of things and I see in the future endless possibilities. And I would just say it’s -- where does the Lord want to take this?
And one guy called me, and he said, “You know, you talk a lot. But every business needs a talker.” Okay. Thank you.
I’m John Francis with Francis Steel Incorporated,
and now you know the history of my business.
Why Christ is FirstRead Now
< This is the transcript from the video "Why Christ is First? >
by: Jon Francis
So I grew up in a Christian home; and my dad and my mom taught me the Word of God, took me to church, and sent me to a Christian school. And I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be saved until I was 22 and in humble repentance turned to the Lord as my Savior. I was a sinner in need. And at that point, he became my life. He’s not an addition. He’s not something I do on Sundays. It’s what I want as my whole life. As the Bible says in II Corinthians 5 that "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away and behold all things are become new and all things are of God;" and that is the testimony of my life. And as that, as the Bible says again in another place, that "when Christ who is our life shall appear" -- and He is my life and He’s my all, my desire, my purpose, my focus all surrounds what His will and His way and His fellowship with me. It’s all as the Apostle Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” And that’s my desire. And that’s why Christ will be first in this business; because he’s first in my life.
And so Christ, in my understanding, is the only sure foundation. He can be depended upon in trials and tests and troubles. I think of Job who lost everything. He lost his business. He lost his family. Lost his health. And he gained a very disturbed wife, which is understandable losing her children and losing everything. And yet he said that he was confident that his redeemer - he will see his redeemer. There are no men that can be depended upon like Him. He is - the Bible says - faithful. He’s the only one that’s faithful. And so He’s unchanging, He’s able to be trusted, He’ll carry you through no matter what the circumstances. I lean upon Him and seek to be more like Him because His character is perfect. His character is wonderful. The Lord Jesus is a humble personality. He’s not proud, boastful, seeking His own. And I like that and I depend upon Him to make me like that so that in business I can be effective the way he’s effective. His character is not as the world might try to make it mean and cruel. Only time that’s the case is when people don’t receive His love.
Obviously, I don’t know what tomorrow holds. In my experience in business -- we had a business years ago that had 24 employees. We were doing really well, but it turned out it was the Lord’s will to change that and it went down to where we had nothing. And He put me through that, but what I didn’t know at that time and I began to seek the Lord about what to do about starting a business and didn’t know what the future held. And I learned and came to learn the Lord does, and He’s worth trusting. He’s a sure foundation. He knows what the future holds; and if we trust Him, He will give us what is best.
What I’ve learned about the Lord’s Word is that it doesn’t have to be changed. It is everlasting. It is a good foundation. What I’ve learned to understand about it is that what it teaches is right, and what it teaches is the path to success is the path of humility. It’s not the path of self-assurance. It’s not the path of trusting in yourself to accomplish things or to think higher esteem. The Bible says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus who being in the form of God "-- the highest of the high -- "he took upon himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.” And then not just stopping there, He became obedient unto death for us. And the Lord lifted Him up. I know many examples in the Bible of kings that were raised up by the Lord because they were low in their own sight, and the Lord lifted them up. And that’s what I want. I don’t want to be lifted up because I think I’m wonderful or because I think I’ve got some knowledge or some strength of my own.
Trusting in the Lords is, for me, the only business plan. I know people in the past have said to me when things would come, economy might be shaking, and events might happen in the world, and they’ve come, “What are we gonna do?” And I would always tell them, “I’m gonna do the same thing that I’ve always done - trust the Lord.” Wherever He leads, it will be right.
So I love Psalm 127:1 which says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. Except the Lord keep the city the watchman maketh but in vain.” I like it because it is a testimony of this business, and I’ve seen the Lord do mighty things, unbelievable things. We come in and we have no money, we have no equipment, we have no people, we have no hope; and the Lord has put things in position and people in place and circumstances are just worked out. You know, every need was met, and the house was built. And in the end, I could look back and say, “There’s no way I could’ve done that. There’s no way that it was by ability.” It was the Lord, and I give him the credit that He has brought us through and established us. And that’s my hope from now on.
And so my business, I don’t measure success by how much money I have or things that I have or people that I know or the world’s perspective; I measure it by the fact that whether I have a lot or I have a little, I can be truly happy. I can be truly happy because the Lord is the center of my life, and through Him, the Bible says, “In His presence is fullness of joy.” He is the Prince of Peace, and I know that to be a fact. He will bring peace to your life in the midst of the worst trouble. And even though from time to time you’re still human, you’ll wonder what’s going on. But I know through trusting Him in times that were very tough and trusting Him in times that were good that He can bring peace. He can bring joy. He can bring true satisfaction - something the world can never give. And I know because I’ve tried.
I’m John Francis with Francis Steel Incorporated,
and this is why I honor the Lord first.
Keeping you posted on projects, the industry & Francis Steel.