By Laura Ballance
Abbotsford, British Columbia -- April 15, 2017 -- You can tell you’ve gained a certain reputation when high-ranking foreign officials start asking if they can stop by for a visit.
Rick and Daryl Francoeur, owners of CARSTAR Abbotsford and 360 Fabrication, received an unusual request in March when the People’s Republic of China advised that they would like to send a delegation of trade attachés, along with the highest-ranking diplomat in Canada, H.E. Consul General Liu Fei, for a tour of the Francoeur’s Abbotsford-based shop. Word of the high-quality custom work being done by the Canadian company had reached the attention of not only a growing number of Chinese consumers looking for “360 restored vehicles,” it had reached the attention of the Consul General herself, who requested the tour.
“When we received the request for the tour, at first we didn’t quite understand the number of high ranking diplomats that would be making the trip to see the shop,” says 360 Fabrication President and CEO Rick Francoeur. “When we got a delegation list of 10 people, including the Consul General and the Deputy Consul General, I think that’s when then it sank in.”
Also included in the group was the Government of China’s Trade Attaché as well as well-known Beijing-based businessman Jiang Ning, owner of several businesses in Canada. A group of Chinese broadcast and print journalists also participated in the tour.
“It is a tremendous honour to welcome the Consul General and her delegation to our facility,” said Rick Francoeur. “Our entire team was incredibly excited for the visit, and it was great to see the group’s interest in the world-class vehicles we are currently working on.”
The delegation was extremely interested in several of the full-builds currently underway in the shop, in particular a 1932 Desoto, owned by a Calgary businessman who has given the brothers’ free reign to “put the 360 touch and design on his car. The highly anticipated project includes building a full custom frame, widening and lengthening the chassis, installing a 6.2 litre supercharged motor, creating a removable carbon fibre roof and installing a top-of-the-line Focal sound system.
Following the tour, 360 Fabrication presented the Consul General with a scale die cast model of a 1957 Chevy Belair painted in 360 Fabrication’s official green and black corporate colours. The scale model will go on permanent display at the Chinese Embassy in Canada. In return, Consul General Fei presented the brothers with gifts from the Chinese government. Following the exchange of gifts, Consul General Fei complimented the entire staff of the company, calling 360 Fabrication’s work “exceptional, and of keen interest to the Chinese government and people.” Further, Consul Fei said that she saw “tremendous potential for future business between Chinese companies and 360 Fabrication.”