Mark Falbo at Mircom

Alumnus Mark Falbo leads the family business into new markets around the globe

By Lucianna Ciccocioppo / Photography by Jim Ryce

From the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Nexus.

In the boardroom of the executive suites on the south mezzanine of a 105,000-square foot global headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario, lies a generous round, oak table. This is where Mark Falbo, JD/MBA 1995, president of Mircom Group, holds court for the family business. 

For four consecutive years, Mircom has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies, recognized with the Gold Standard Award earlier this year because of its consistent placement.

Mircom is one of those rare companies proudly manufacturing the majority of its products in Canada, while distributing its tech products that ensure the safety of life and property (think high-tech alarm and communications systems of all kinds) around the world.

One of the most important things Mircom protects? Family business governance.

“Our strength is around this table,” says Mark. “We have our ideas; we fight hard for them but when we leave this room, we have family and board solidarity on what our strategies and initiatives are. Most people aren't aware of any divergent opinion. But if the family fabric, or if the board fabric, starts to disintegrate, then you've got bigger problems.”

These days, one of the ‘problems’ is finding time to add to its international flag display, hung up high off the production floor, 80 of them to date, each representing a Mircom authorized distribution partnership.

His involvement in the business, unlike perhaps other legacies, was not a given. After graduating from the Faculty of Law and articling at a Bay street law firm, he cut his teeth in the business world of high finance: CIBC World Markets, then Orenda Corporate Finance, now part of E & Y, where he rose to partner and worked directly with C-suite clients on deals, M&A transactions and more. “I found those interactions really stimulating.”

Ten years later, his father Tony Falbo, who founded Mircom (his second success story), was starting to contemplate more golf and warmer climes.

The trifecta of Falbo sons, Mark and his brothers Rick (also a lawyer and banker) and Jason (a software engineer), decided to take a hard look at the family business and give it a go. One by one, they came into the fold.

“We loved that this business was, first and foremost, a life safety business. Our systems protect people and property. It was technology. It had international scope. It had great people. We were competing and continue to compete with the world's biggest companies like Tyco, Siemens, Honeywell and United Technologies…We said: ‘Let's do it.’”

Business, law and engineering acumen from the three helped to support phenomenal growth for the company. “From 2002 to 2012, we more than quadrupled the business.”

Today, Mircom houses 300 employees at its headquarters, 600 throughout the world. “I try to know most of them by name. It gets harder as we continue to grow but we are a family business, and we need to connect at a human level.”

It’s a long way from the Central Tech high school night classes in electronics Tony Falbo took after emigrating from Calabria, in southern Italy. And his lifelong lessons are never forgotten.

“His theory is: If you are swimming in the middle of the lake, you can go backwards or forwards to shore, but you cannot tread water for very long. We have this perpetual feeling that we’re in the middle of the lake, and there are only two choices: backwards or forwards. We keep trekking forwards,” says Mark.

And make time to buy more flags.