Ciro Mascarenhas Falluh – Groupe Dynamite
- Written by: David Harry
- Produced by: Matthew Warner & Gavin O'Connor
- Estimated reading time: 5 mins
It’s not a “Tale of Two Cities” as much as a tale of two stores about 90 miles apart.
The first is a Garage clothing store that opened in April 2022 in a five-story, mixed-use commercial and residential building in New York City’s historic SoHo neighborhood.
Catering to the tastes of women ages 18 to 25, it specializes in affordable Gen-Z fashions, including apparel in splashy hot pink and bubblegum shades. The interior features natural wood, white-tiled walls, custom-made steel fixtures and infinity mirrors projecting colorful images.
The second is a Dynamite clothing store in the Cherry Hill Mall in New Jersey that opened in November 2021 and specializes in clothing and accessories for women ages 25 to mid-30’s. It has a more conservative look with a black and gray color palette and abstract art.
Garage and Dynamite are chain stores operated by Montreal-based Groupe Dynamite, which has about 350 locations in the U.S. and Canada and aggressive expansion plans in the U.S. in the coming five years, says Ciro Mascarenhas Falluh.
Falluh, the company’s senior director for construction and maintenance, has helped guide expanding Groupe Dynamite’s stores for 15 years, including the ones mentioned above.
Before joining the company in February 2007, he was an engineer and project manager in his native Brazil and then in Canada. He oversaw the construction of dams, bridges and sewer systems and a Montreal synagogue—none of which fully prepared him to work in fashion retail.
“I needed to learn the industry and how customers react—it’s all about fulfilling a customer’s emotional needs,” Falluh says.
Staying in style
After Groupe Dynamite grew throughout Canada, the company opened its first U.S. Garage store in 2007. Since then, Garage and Dynamite stores have opened on the East Coast, Southern California, Arizona, Florida, Texas and Ohio.
Falluh says there are 10 ongoing projects in locations including Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Miami, Orlando and Walnut Creek, California. Groupe Dynamite may add as many as 15 more stores in 2023, too. He and his team collaborate with the interior design team in the early stage of leasing negotiations and work right up to a store’s opening.
He also renovates existing stores, which he says need to be refreshed every five to eight years to replace older design concepts with new ones, or a hybrid concept. But the vibe remains constant.
“SoHo was a different market and a lot of exposure,” Falluh says. “But Garage isn’t looking to parents as customers. I’ve been in newly opened stores and heard parents complain the music is too loud.”
Whether as Garage or Dynamite stores or in urban or suburban mall settings, Falluh says Groupe Dynamite stores are 3,600 square feet on average built in leased spaces.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has waned, he says supply chain and labor shortage issues remain. He stockpiles basic materials such as lighting fixtures, millwork and metal frames that hold them. However, where it used to take just a couple months to open a store, it now takes half a year on average.
The cost of sustainability
The delayed timeframes can stem from developing and getting custom-made materials such as wood, metal panels and furniture. Getting design plans and contractors takes longer, as well as permits to build and open. For instance, Falluh says it can take as long as eight weeks to get a construction permit or to arrange final inspections for areas such as fire safety that are required for occupancy permits.
This is where collaboration counts—Falluh says he likes to get to know inspectors and understand what they’re looking for while keeping a store design intact.
“I try to sell my experience to invoke common sense. There’s always a solution,” he says.
While making the designs come to life in new stores, Falluh has been pushing to make the stores more sustainable and energy efficient. For instance, he added LED lighting and glass block walls in SoHo that reduce energy use and are easier to maintain.
In 2014, Falluh analyzed operations costs that led to retrofits to almost 100 stores in Ontario. As an example, the company began working with utility companies in the province and the ensuing conversion to LED lights in stores reduced energy use by 1 million kilowatt hours annually, representing $300,000 annual savings.
Falluh also conducted a region-by-region and store-by-store study beginning in 2014 on how much energy was wasted because HVAC systems ran harder to heat or cool stores where doors were left open to draw customers.
However, he also had to consider the costs of energy saving equipment and devices. For instance, LED lighting was added to stores when it came down in price. When he found HVAC automation controls using Wi-Fi for about $400 each, he added those as well.
Engineered to build teams
Falluh began his career in engineering, facilities and project management in Brazil after earning his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Universidade de Brasilia in 1983. In 1988, he became a general manager for Caenge S.A.’s São Paulo office, where he supervised engineering for building and infrastructure projects with utility companies and residential developers.
In 1998, Falluh arrived in Canada to study for his master’s degree in project management at Concordia University in Montreal. After earning it, he joined Altapex Construction as senior project manager in June 2000. Among the projects he worked on in Montreal are the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel, the Congregation Dorshei Emet synagogue, the underground gymnasium at Congregation Shaar Hashomayin, Bill Wong Commercial building and a Benihana restaurant.
Falluh joined Groupe Dynamite in February 2007. He says he was drawn to the company because of the variety of work it offers and the quicker pace needed for the retail projects.
“I like being challenged by the need for change,” he says. “However, the most important thing I’ve realized in my life is how crucial it is to gather and work with people—from your team, the clients and the partners such as our contractors. You can’t do things like this in a such short period of time alone.”
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