When Arthur Braren founded D.E.F.I. in 2008, he did not realize how quickly it would need its own fabrication shop. After adding one in 2013, D.E.F.I. is experiencing growth at breakneck speed and Braren is leading this full-service, fiberglass-reinforced plastics supplier and fabricator into its new era of business. BIC Magazine recently sat down with Braren to see how his whip-smart team and family- first mentality keep him motivated.
Q: What led you to start D.E.F.I.?
A: I met up with a business acquaintance over drinks, and that is how D.E.F.I. got its start. I asked this gentleman, “What do you think about running your own fabrication shop with me?” A few months later, I received a phone call from this same gentleman stating he was ready to start. Thus, D.E.F.I.’s fabrication shop was born.
We originally started D.E.F.I. in 2008 as a way to offer installation services for the fiberglass components we had been providing for over 20 years. It quickly became apparent we needed our own fabrication shop, which we opened in 2013.
Q: What surprised you most about D.E.F.I. once it developed?
A: We are still developing as an organization, continuously learning and improving. I truly believe if you become complacent with your company, then it will not survive. The biggest surprises over the years have been the efficiency of D.E.F.I.’s fabrication shop and how well we all work together to achieve “grate” customer experience.
Q: Why is D.E.F.I. successful?
A: D.E.F.I.’s success is directly related to its people. The employees currently on staff are the most talented individuals this corporation has ever had by far. We are fortunate enough to employ some of the best fiberglass fabricators in the South, perhaps even in the country. In addition, the people in our sales and estimating departments are driven to make our customers’ experiences with us positive ones. Our goal is to provide excellent service so our customers want to work with us.
Q: What is the biggest news at D.E.F.I. right now?
A: Despite the downturn in the oil and gas industry, D.E.F.I. is so busy, which may be our biggest news. After just trying to keep up during the boom over the past couple of years, the spigot was turned off. We shifted our focus to other industries that needed our products and services. Collectively, we made that transition a smooth one.
Q: How do you maintain a good work/home life balance?
Being a father of five children and the leader of D.E.F.I., I go into survivor mode every day. Keeping that balance is a constant struggle, but being highly organized is key. Also, having that family-first mentality and knowing you cannot do it all on your own are other keys. Your mind wants to do it all, but you have to delegate responsibilities and tasks. This is where my awesome team comes in to pick up my slack.