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October 30, 2007

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Mark Simm

Despite its critics PVC-U is one of the most sustainable products and is a proven technology. As a leading composite door manufacturer we have 12 years experience of manufacturing the only fully engineered PVC-U composite door. But we also have the experience of PVC-U behind our door. PVC provides a low maintenance, durable and recyclable solution. It makes me wonder why so many people are keen on GRP door slabs. We all know GRP doors have had a questionable performance history.

Even in today’s growing composite door market, where many composite doors are made from imported GRP slabs, fabricators and installers who had to pick up the pieces on more than one occasion, have a nagging doubt because the material has been so troublesome. When a door slab is cut to size to fit the frame the protective layers are shaven away, exposing the internal timber to attack from the weather. The result is a product which can swell and bow. Installers don’t want doors which result in costly call backs and remedial work or replacements because it affects their reputation.

Installers who offer a PVC-U door to match homeowners PVC-U windows can benefit from using the same unique selling points for PVC-U. Selling a GRP door when PVC-U windows have already been installed undermines the benefits of PVC-U and indicates it is not suitable for doors.

GRP composite doors are not the same as PVC-U in terms of durability and performance. In a few years they will need to be painted which is costly and time consuming. It misses the point of supplying homeowners with a low maintenance door.

PVC-U is the sustainable option for a wide variety of products. The PVC industry needs to be less backwards in coming forwards to promote PVC to the trade, specifiers and the public.

Mark Simm
Sales Director
Rockdoor

Colin Chamberlain

Well my new pvc windows have now been installed..c rated. house has no draughts...from the outside they look clean bright and fresh. New door installed looks great it would take you a fortnight to break through it.

BUT....the handles on the windows still stick out about 3 inches from the framewith a big key stuck in them so you can lock them, just the same as our twenty year old pvc windows.

Has anyone got any fresh ideas on how the window industry can make a window look as though it was made in the 21st century and not in 1978

Giovanni Laporta

Have the courage to believe in your convictions.

People talk about investment in new products & innovation (R&D) as one of the industry’s potential lifelines - but in my experience this can be just “talk” and nothing else. As when push becomes to shove most company’s (more-so Window & Door fabricators) shy away from new product innovation owing to commercial ignorance or age old resistance towards change. Add both of these mindsets to a third (that for obvious reasons) new innovation comes at price which no one wants to pay, it takes a brave company to invest in R&D.

However, for those that stand true to innovation as a potential source of commercial progress – you will be glad to learn that my company SAC Systems (Hardware) Ltd has over the last 5 years invested heavily in R&D. From this we have produced the industry’s’ most innovative and advanced window hardware product’s EVER. And I when is say “innovative” I mean “real innovation” and not Mickey Mouse innovation.

True talkers are welcome to discuss my thoughts with me further. Loose talkers can stay away thanks!

Giovanni Laporta
Sac Systems (Hardware) Ltd
(Real Innovators of Window Hardware Products)

Donnie MacNeill

Is this just a PVC window 'love-in' or can I make the case for innovation in the timber window sector.
After years of research and development, we have introduced a window into the market place with a whole-window U value of 0.7 (O.66 to be precise)and don't intend to stop there. The window is entirely environmentally friendly, as the recent award of the Scandinavian 'Swan Mark' to our company demonstrates.
We may also have the answer to Colin Chamberlain's problem insofar as we are developing a window sensor system whereby you receive an instant text message to inform you if any particular window in your property is being interfered with. When I was with my Norwegian colleague at the BBA last week, he was notified that the sensor in window 10 in his house in Norway had been activated. As his granddaughter was staying in the house and that was 'her' window, he phoned his wife just to check that all was OK - and it was!
Some of us in the industry are pushing out the boundaries of technology. We are flexible without being plastic - or apathetic!
Donnie MacNeill
Technical Co-ordinator
NorDan UK Ltd.

Lawrence Breakspear

Bang on The Money

Once again, Colin Chamberlain is bang on the money....so too speak.

In some aspects, i hold the system houses totally responsible for the current over capacitised industry we are now in, they have, with no thought over developed the Fabricator base of this country and are contiually at war with each other, using the fabricators as as some weapon of proxy,i consider they have invested little back in to an indusrty that has brought them great wealth.

They are the ones totally responsible for the driving down of prices in all sectors because of the over capicity they have created. It says it all when you consider they are invariably the largest supplier in any Window Fabricators supply chain, but i see little contribution to this debate or guidance, they potificate from the side lines always and i believe they have a poor disrespectful opinion of their customers.

But remember chaps without fabricators you would be nothing you wouldnt exist.

So stop this arrogance and start investing into the future both in research and development of new products and materials, but more importantly the people.

Ray Rabett

What a Difference a Window can Make

Education of the consumer is everything: we need to tell the world what a difference windows can make. And energy rated windows can make a huge difference. Products which are 20 years old will almost certainly have glass with a u-value of around 3.3. Today most companies use units with a u-value of 1.1 to 1.4. Even without the advances in framing material this is an improvement of over 50%!

Those with top Window Energy Ratings can offer even more efficient windows, saving consumers increasingly more money as fuel prices rise. Windows are also more secure (especially those with the police-backed Secured by Design) and perform better and last longer (BBA/TRADA/Kitemark accreditations).

Masterframe and its network of Bygone Preferred Installers advertise and campaign to educate consumers about these benefits. Many other companies do so too – but most compete on price alone, and undermine every innovation the industry has developed.
 
I agree with the spirit of Colin Chamberlain's original gripe about the industry being driven downhill. But this isn’t being done by the Debate delegates, who actively want to better the marketplace. It’s being driven downhill by those who believe winning business is purely based on price and those who offer lower specification/performance products to win work.

Our industry should be upselling the benefits and specification of the goods/services we supply and offering best value for money: something completely different to being the cheapest.
 
Ray Rabett
Technical Director
Masterframe Windows Ltd

Colin Chamberlain

Well it would seem that the other problem the window industry faces is apathy.

I cannot believe that the industry debate has only generated 7 comments. What do Profile 22, Laird, Groupco, Avocet, Hurst, Pilkingtons, Sash, Halo etc etc etc have to say or is it that no one can be bothered.

I would like to propose that twenty companies from within the industry each donate £1000 to a prize fund that can be offered to Design students at Universities around the country for the best innovative idea for the glass and window industry. Hunter Appointments will put the first thousand pounds into the fund.

Any other takers?

Giovanni Laporta

Solutions, Solutions, Solutions….

I have read what everybody has to say and with the exception of what Colin Chamberlain from Hunter Appointments has to say, the rest just harp on about “the problems” instead offering up sustainable solutions.

The problem is that to many of the so called ‘great industry leaders’ think like novice businessman, being railroaded into making major commercial decisions by one man bands, who most don’t even know what a Balance or Profit & Loss Sheet looks like. This has always perplexed me in that within the window industry the teacher’s ask the student’s what they should teach? In my opinion the industry’s biggest problem begins and ends here. Stop listing so intensively to individuals whom only care about how many pints their money can buy down their local on Friday night, Saturday night and all-day Sunday - and in turn teach them how they can drink champagne at The Ivy! This message goes out to all the ‘great industry leaders’, lead the students and stop being lead by them, this is why, for most, the industry is in such a terminal state. Is anyone getting my point or I am just talking a load of nonsense?

One last thing I have lots of solutions to the industry's problems which are working great for me, but lets be realistic I’m not going to tell my competition what they are…. why would I, when all I will be doing is losing any competitive edge my company has?

Regards

Giovanni Laporta
Sac Systems (Hardware) Ltd
(Real Innovators of Window Hardware Products)

john ogilvie

Working Together to Build a Brand

I haven’t tried blogging before, but would like to make some personal observations from the unique perspective of Network VEKA, a trade association covering the supply chain to the consumer. It includes a system company, over forty fabricators and 100 installation companies ranging from one-man bands to multi-million pound organisations all working together to build a brand for their mutual benefit.

Like Kevin Hills my immediate experience ‘pre windows’ was in insulation – a real commodity market where one square metre of loft insulation had the same U value as the next and where one penny per square metre made the difference between winning a major contract or not.

When I started out in the double-glazing industry (and yes, I actually tell people socially that is what I do and watch them run) I was impressed at the professionalism I found. Compared to what I knew before, window products had features and benefits that could be sold if potential customers were asked the right questions. You could actually command a price premium with the right skills. Move on 15 years and my general impression today is that while there is even more to ‘sell’ such as security, energy efficiency and recyclability the skills have gone. The price driven market is all too familiar.

And yet while they are not as thick on the ground, I see companies still selling at above average prices, differentiating themselves from lesser competition, using their existing skill sets by diversifying into associated home improvement products and gaining add-on sales from past customers who have ‘enjoyed’ their experience of their chosen installer.

For those who care rather than wanting to make a fast buck (some still seem to be able to do this, usually by taking their supplier, customers or both), the offering to consumers of products and services with genuine, visible added value helps them to stand clear of the price-fighters.

How do they do this? In my opinion training is the key. How much does your company invest (not spend) on training? Skills don’t come naturally to most, they are taught.

I meet sales people for example who say ‘I’ve been selling for twenty years – you can’t teach me anything’ while others say, ‘I’ve been selling for twenty years but if you can remind of something I’ve forgotten, then the day will have been well spent’. Guess which companies tend to grow?

The same goes for installers – just because they have been fitting windows for 15 years doesn’t mean they are doing it right. Get the NVQ and prove it! Now you have something else to sell.

The market is still too fragmented with too few leaders of insufficient market size to make a difference. There are no simple answers but trying to genuinely walk a provable quality talk is a good start.

John Ogilvie, Network Veka

Sonja Mountford

Lack of Training

I'd like to comment on Michael Nagle's view of 'guys' not having the experience of the 'mature' rep. I have taken on several posts of, what comes down to, Sales Rep, over the past 8 years with hopeful intentions of learning more,
not just about the Upvc frame - but about the installation process, the hardware that makes a difference, seeking to keep up to date with energy regulations, building regulations and part L to name a few points, I have never worked for a company that has offered me any training what so ever. I have worked for large fabricators and small and neither have offered any type of trianing, inhouse or otherwise.
I have taken it upon myself to gain product and technical information over the years and can hold my own in any conversation with customers large or small. It would be a fantastic thing if we could structure training into new bods entering the industry - maybe we will if the new plastic inventions ever come about. I would relish the opportunity to have training in any are of the industry if it was only offered. You see, sometimes the 'Rep's' role is not seen as the Company's Representative and really we all know that first impressions count. Oh and by the way, I'm not one of the guys- one of the girls!!

Lawrence Breakspear

Stagnation of Industry

I must say I whole heartedly agree with Colin Chamberlain’s comments with regard to the stagnation of our industry with regard to innovation, invention and continual improvement of products.

The British Fenestration industry and some of its suppliers at best have become lobbying bodies whose occasional focus forces through change via government recommendation and legislation to sell more of their particular products, which generally are more expensive than the products they are replacing.

The huddled groups that have been formed over the years that are supposed to represent the industry and its participants, have just become cosy clubs for its well paid employees that frankly do little as I see it….. the words gravy train comes to mind, but hey that’s just me being cynical ……isn’t it?

As for the so called most influential people in the industry malarkey, I smile when I see their faces, whilst I accept there are people in the industry that have made a considerable contribution through hard work a passion for what they do, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them, people like Jim Rawson, the Lichfield family and Brian Kennedy etc. (and I respectfully bow before them all), some names on the list just shouldn’t be there and this ultimately discredits the rest.

The industry needs to wake up and must stop continually contemplating its own navel and displaying self congratulation through the fenestration media etc., within the next 5 years we will see a major changes because of saturation levels that now exist and a potential shrinking market place, so well done Colin for speaking up, because we do need new inventions, new ground breaking products and more importantly new materials to revitalise the industry via continual improvement and flare.

Lawrence Breakspear
Managing Director
KEB Fabrications Ltd

Colin Chamberlain

Great News for the industry then.

All we have to do is solve the problem of substainabilty and all the householders around the country will start replacing their 20 year old PVC windows.

Thanks Ray for putting me straight on how boldly our industry is moving forward.

My comments were made as a consumer. At home we have recently had a survey done to replace all the timber windows with PVC. Two of our existing windows are 18 year old PVC. We were told it really wasnt worth replacing the two PVC windows because they were fine and the new windows would really be no different.

Perhaps Ray may be able to tell me of any other product or market where the same could be said of replacing something that is 20 years old.

Regards
Colin Chamberlain
Hunter Appointments.

Ray Rabett

Becoming Cynical

It must be the time of year, or maybe I am just becoming cynical.

I found two two articles in this weeks Glazine which stood out to me and complete nonsense from the authors, firstly the industry debate by Mr Chamberlain, and then the article by Mumford and Wood, which is some ways are related.

Colin Chamberlain slating the representatives of the industry debate commenting about the "Great Leaders" in his words being the same people that have driven down the industry over the last 15 - 20 years is unfounded, as he comments on the lack of innovation from the industry.

Over the last 5 years PVC-U products have moved on significantly, Calcium stabiliser are now being used, and even alternative supply of oil is being explored as society demands greener bio-fuel options.

Glass has probably seen the greatest continued change, more efficient Low E coatings, low Iron being now commonly used and more efficient warm edge technologies.

Colin obviously hasn't attended one of the G awards ceremonies where he would be in the company of the industry leaders who are developing and future proofing the industry. Maybe if he was to look at the good going on and participate in the industry's success he would not have such a negative view.

Perversely Mumford and wood are trying to promote themselves as innovative by claiming an equivalent "A" rated sash window. Of coarse by moving the goal posts and changing the calculation size of the window allows for pretty much any sash window product to achieve higher ratings, but all this does is make it confusing for the homeowners as they try to interpretate the truth from exaggerated claims.

I will agree that a sash window has less percentage of glass area than a equivalent casement window, making it even harder for the higher ratings to be achieved. Having been through the pain of extensive R&D to achieve ratings "A" to "C" for our products I can vouch that it is possible, providing you exert some innovation as MR Chamberlain so rightly calls for.


Kind regards

Ray Rabett
Technical Director

Colin Chamberlain

The Great Debate


I have been reading recently in the industry mags regarding 'the great leaders' of our industry meeting to discuss the way forward for the window industry.

Are these the same people who have been leading the industry into terminal decline for the last 15-20 years.

It is about time that the industry learnt a few lessons from other industries.

Where is the inovation that we see in so many other markets.

The double glazing market is still selling the same basic product it was selling 12-15 years ago.

If you look at any other product area you will see great ideas implemented by manufacturers that has enabled them to sell products to the same customers over over again.

Examples, mobile phones, kitchens, buses, cars, computers etc. Even our dustbin has been re-invented so the old tin can and lid no longer exists.

Why don't the systems companies, glass producers, and hardware companies start re-inventing themselves and their products. Ideas???? how about keyless entry systems, different colours of profile, Alarm sensors built into the frames. Or we could just keep harping on about the latest part L and the effect on the industry.

WAKE UP GUYS before you kill the industry completely. Ideas come from the bottom upwards, Has anyone ever gone out to the consumer to find out what they would like in their windows.

Lets get some fresh young ideas and people. Then maybe the market will move.

Regards

Colin Chamberlain

Hunter Appointments

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