Founded back in 1966 by Fred Wilson with just six employees, today FG Wilson is a leading global provider of generator sets. The world has changed much in that time but the FG Wilson formula of quality, support and value still remains the same more than 50 years later.
The FG Wilson brand’s journey started in 1966 with Fred Wilson and his 6 colleagues in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Today FG Wilson is powering life in over 150 countries with around 670,000 gensets installed since 1990. In over 50 years the legacy and heritage of FG Wilson has been built on the promise of delivering quality products and best in class customer service.
Fred Wilson’s Vision:
Fred Wilson left schooling when he was just 12 years old and started to work with his father in the family farmland. Soon after he joined an engineering firm in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where he learned about engineering while servicing buses. From the late 1940s, he was working around plant machinery and tools and sometimes he repaired and installed compressors and diesel generator sets.
In 1966, Fred decided to pursue his vision and risk striking out on his own to set up an engineering company, FG Wilson Engineering Ltd, with only 6 employees. Fred’s great passion was transport engineering and at first his new business manufactured innovative transport equipment and he was the lead designer!
Business Opportunity into Generator Sets:
The early 1970s saw a major global energy crisis and it was a very challenging time to be in business. War in the Middle East in 1973 led oil-producing countries in the region to restrict the supply of oil and increase prices, which created huge transport and power infrastructure problems in many large economies. With electricity rationed, Fred saw an opportunity. He began to charter planes and flew generator sets into the UK from the US. He rented a warehouse near London’s Heathrow airport and auctioned those sets off to the highest bidders. In 1974 Fred’s business achieved a staggering $10 million of sales with only 30 employees, two of whom were his sons Tom and Gordon, who would be a driving force in taking the business to new heights over the following 20 years.
FG Wilson in The Middle East:
It wasn’t long before Fred figured out that he could assemble generator sets himself and he set his sights on big things. From 1975, the Middle East market was booming. Through contacts there, he began marketing mini power stations. FG Wilson’s first small power station was commissioned in 1976 in Abu Dhabi, followed by many others across the region. Fred could build, install and commission a small power station in 3 – 6 months and he supplied his own people to train customer staff and operate the facilities for 1 – 2 years after commissioning.
New Management and Strategy for FG Wilson:
In the early 1980s, Fred’s son Tom took over the running of the company and together with his brothers Gordon and Paul, they set about revolutionising the company and ultimately the industry.
At a time when the market for small generator sets was populated by many small niche players, Tom Wilson brought about a change in strategy towards high volume, ready-to-run, standard generator sets, built at competitive costs and with rapid delivery. He developed self-contained small power units, which were simple to buy and operate and required a minimum of installation work. Designs were standardized and huge investment in production capability was made. Long term deals were agreed with suppliers of engines and AC generators for best possible prices, terms and deliveries. Central to this was an exclusive supply deal with Perkins, then owned by Massey Ferguson, signed 34 years ago on 16th April 1986. FG Wilson became Perkins’ first Electric Power OEM and their 2nd largest customer. This partnership between FG Wilson and a major engine manufacturer, allowed for close collaboration on the design of engines and facilitated knowledge sharing and training: a close working relationship that still exists today.
FG Wilson Dealer Network:
One of FG Wilson’s key advantages has always been its global distribution network. With over 100 dealers representing the FG Wilson brand around the world, many of which have been with the company since its creation, FG Wilson dealers are regarded as true experts in the electric power industry, offering expert advice, assistance with sales and parts & service support to customers all over the world.
FG Wilson and Caterpillar:
The biggest leap for FG Wilson was taken in 1993, when the company relocated into a 70,000 square metre facility in Larne, Northern Ireland. The immense growth and potential of FG Wilson in the European market attracted the attention of Caterpillar Inc and in 2000, FG Wilson became a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar.
Today, with over 15,400 square metre factory space in Northern Ireland, other 28,000 square metre in China and additional manufacturing facilities in Brazil and India, FG Wilson offers one of the widest ranges of diesel-fuelled generator sets, from 6.8 – 2,500 kVA, with a full range of enclosures and switchgear.