Ocean Magazine : 1 May June 2005
The 58 m luxury explorer yacht Ulysses, the 43 m Silverfox now being refitted as Lady Katherine 111, and Bob Els' 30 m catamaran Reef Queen lately called Leda have one thing in common. Their owners entrusted the custom interiors for each vessel to fast- expanding FMCA, which describes itself as "Australia's largest furniture manufacturing, supply and fitout organization for luxury yachts, five star hotels and private residences". BY Bruce Maxwell Since FMCA moved into luxury yacht custom fitouts in the late 1990s, they have also handled Keith Williams' Achilles 111, the 29 m whale-watching cat Eye Spy, Fiesta, Ophelia V, Patriot and SB-01, with Oceanic Princess in Cairns and further fitouts for Ulysses and for the 39 m Seafaris currently under way in Brisbane. As Frank Lowy's 74m Ilona V is to cruise overseas, talks were also in progress in Cairns late April about re-designing her Australian-waters replacement, the 30 m formerly US-owned Hilarim, which is a renamed earlier Ilona. Robert Falzon, the driving force behind FMCA -- it originally stood for Furniture Manufacturing Company of Australia -- is a graduate of Newcastle University who launched his furniture-making venture with five employees and a truck in Brisbane 20 years ago. Much of its growth has come in the last ten years. FMCA moved into timber furniture by acquiring highly skilled cabinet-makers and French polishers in 1994. Sales teams were appointed in Sydney and Melbourne, metal fabrication was added to capabilities, quality assurance certification became a key feature, and only two years ago site offices were set up on the Gold Coast and in Cairns. Today FMCA describes itself as spanning timber joinery, millwork, cabinetry, upholstery, soft furnishings, metalwork, stainless steel and loose furniture. Brett Miles is its design manager, but FMCA also collaborates with leading design practices nationally and internationally. Sunshine Coast-based Ricky Smith of Smith Marine Interiors is one such company, and well-known Claudette Bonville Associates in Florida has been involved in other projects. FMCA started picking up occasional superyacht refit work in the late 1990s, while keeping itself busy with more than 100 five-star hotel contracts and custom designs for private homes, but their international breakthrough came in 2001 with an agreement to outfit the 58 m Ulysses, owned by an Australian-based New Zealander, which was then at a Trinity Yachts associate yard in New Orleans. That provided a lot of experience in handling such work overseas, and has led to Falzon becoming a regular in recent years at the Monaco and Ft Lauderdale superyacht shows. He says FMCA is quite competitive in markets abroad, despite the strengthening dollar, and is certainly so at home. ocean | 93 FMCA interiors in the 43 m Silverfox, completed at NQEA Australia for a New York owner.
2 July August 2005