FAI Automotive plc has evolved out of motorsport, with its attendant high standards of technical, logistical and administrative efficiency. Ian Walker, our founder was a semi-professional racing and rally driver from 1956 to 1962, when he retired from driving and formed Ian Walker Racing (IWR).
This was a fully professional four-car race team, which campaigned all over Europe and North America with considerable success. Apart from two contracted drivers, the team was fortunate to have the services on an occasional basis, of such drivers as Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart. When IWR was closed down in 1968, its assets and some of the personnel were integrated into Ian Walker Service – a garage business – which specialised in the sale and service of high performance cars, particularly Lotus. It also produced and marketed performance conversions, such as camshafts, cylinder heads, inlet and exhaust manifolds and eventually competition engines.
In 1974 we commenced engine re-conditioning for road cars and consequently were regrinding road camshafts and, due to the cost of engine parts prevailing then, began sourcing outside of the franchised networks. As we built up stock holding and availability for ourselves, we saw a market opportunity to offer a range of engine parts to the engine reconditioning industry.
Commencing in 1976 the small range offered included re-profiled camshafts, followers, tappets, rocker shafts, oil pump repair kits, timing chains, and core plugs. We started with an 8 part range consisting of a total of only 135 part numbers, and were operating out of a premises comprising of 2,250 square feet.
We now operate out of a premises covering 110,000 square feet, our current range of products consists of over 25 product lines, 40,000 part numbers covering 100+ vehicle manufacturers and at any time, our average parts inventory totals over 5,000,000 items.
Over the years we have made significant investments to the product ranges we have on offer. In 2015 our Gaskets and Head Bolts saw over 2,000 part numbers introduced, Steering and Suspension currently boasts over 5,000 part numbers, while our Timing Chain Kits offer the most comprehensive kits in terms of content but also car parc coverage found in the market today. We are also the sole UK authorised distributor of the industry leading Lucas Glow Plugs which consists of over 150 part numbers.
We are continually making additions to all of our product ranges, while introducing whole new product lines like our new Sump Pans, Torsional Vibration Dampers and Oil Control Valves.
Here at FAI we believe our continuing success has been achieved by maintaining certain key principles:
Ian Walker’s first major rally.
The birth of Ian Walker Racing Limited.
Ian Walker Racing began its transition into Blue Flash.
Blue Flash Products commence engine re-conditioning for road cars.
Blue Flash Products develops itself as a reputable brand for engine rebuilding and associated products.
Blue Flash Products becomes FAI and extends its business.
FAI = Flexatherm Automotive International.
FAI add the first of many MLS gaskets to the range, the first part number being HG907.
FAI partner with Goodyear Engineered Product to be the UK distributor. This partnership lasted up until 2012.
FAI’s premises grew from 2,250 square feet to over 67,500 feet, slowly taking over the trading estate unit by unit.
FAI receive their ISO accreditation
FAI launch their online presence, the website growing as the years progress.
FAI introduces the first laser welded head gaskets to range.
FAI are appointed the Lucas Diesel distributor for European markets.
FAI begin listing their products on Tecdoc and achieve an A rating as a data supplier.
FAI launch their online catalogue which has continued to improve and make an easier platform for customers.
The company overcame a fire at its warehouse where 1.4 million pounds worth of damage was caused by the fire. FAI didn’t miss a day of operation and came back strong from this huge event.
FAI introduce a range of Timing Chain Kits that soon explodes to over 400 references and sees FAI positioned as the leader in the Aftermarket.
FAI achieve the milestone of selling 1,000,000 steering parts in a 12 month period, a first for themselves.
Due to the massive success of Timing Chain Kits, FAI introduce a new range of Oil Control Valves.
FAI continues to expand its product offering with Oil Sump Pans as this compliments many existing ranges.
FAI launches a range of top quality Torsional Vibration Dampers complementing their other bottom engine products.
FAI has been specifically recognised for the outstanding growth in International Trade, one of four categories within the Queen’s Award for Enterprise program. An awards dinner was held where HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis proudly presented the award to the staff of FAI.
The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 is a prestigious award that ranks the highest achieving UK companies based on international growth. FAI is ranked 143rd in an article published in the Sunday times, which is viewed by 3 million readers; a figure that encompasses 54% of the business elite audience.
During the month of November 2018, FAI launch a brand new range featuring 200 references; covering 85% vehicle parc for popular European & Asian manufacturers and provides bearings for 42,000 application variants.
The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 is a prestigious award that ranks the highest achieving UK companies based on international growth. FAI is lucky enough to win it for the second year in a row and ranked 183rd in the league table.