Roseview Windows, producer of some of the best sash windows on the market, turned 40 years old at the end of last week. A very happy birthday to Roseview!
But that got me thinking, how old is old in our industry? When do you call a company old? Longevity has never really been one of this industry’s strongest suits. Part of our tarnished reputation has come thanks to many businesses, a lot of installers, closing their doors before their original guarantees have even gone the full term. Leaving plenty of unhappy home owners.
The more you try to think of an answer, the less straightforward it becomes. The way I see it, it depends on which part of the industry you’re in.
What is old?
Roseview Windows, for example, are 40 years old. Four decades in production of PVCu sash windows. Considering PVCu really only started to become established in the 70’s, that is pretty old.
But what about companies in the other material categories. take George Barnsdale. They are producers of timber windows and doors, including sash windows. They were established in 1884 in Donington. That makes them a grand old 133 years old. For me, that makes them old by any meaning of the word. But, this is in the world of timber, perhaps the longest established material when it comes to glazing products. So it would not be fair to compare George Barnsdale with Roseview in that respect.
For us back at the office, we have been installing windows and doors for 36 years. We were established in 1981 and have been going ever since. We have seen local competitors come and go in great numbers, whilst we have been able to ride out various economic booms and busts in our near four decades in business. I would consider us old in the installation world. Not the oldest by any means, but old when you consider our local market.
There are other installers that can boast some impressive numbers. Anglian are 50 years old, and Everest have that medal too. But they have the support of being a national network of businesses. They’re not independent businesses in the same way we are. They get support from VC’s and investors. They’re a whole different outfit in comparison to a family run business.
In the world of metal windows and doors, the stand out name is Crittall Windows. Founded over 160 years ago, their products are in some of the most famous land marks in the country, including the Houses of Parliament, and other major buildings around the world. Not only is this company old, it has real heritage. Something very few can boast in our industry.
What gets you to “old” status?
Longevity, as I mentioned before, is not our industry’s best feature. Plenty have been unable to stick around long enough to get past a single generation of ownership. However, it’s not impossible. And for me, if you get the basics right, there is no reason why you cannot become “old” in our industry, at any level of the supply chain.
To me, the basics are good products – no matter the industry positioning, quality customer service throughout and always, topping off with attention to detail. These points matter to every single business in every single industry. Get these right, and the rest should come easily enough. Yet, via word of mouth and now social media, so many seem unable to get these three basic points right.
Longevity in business is important, but longevity in business relationships is important too. For example, we have used John Fredericks as our main supplier of PVCu windows and PVCu residential doors for 33 years out of our 36 years in business. We have stayed loyal to them because they produce a great product, at what we believe is a fair price and always give us good customer service, even though we are not their biggest customer. They’re not perfect, no one is. And they’ll admit that they drop the ball once or twice, just as everyone does. But it’s how they put it right. They have always been there to make sure any issues we have are worked out and we both get back on the road to sales and margins.
And that counts for us all in this industry. No single company is perfect in our industry. Anyone who tells you there is is a liar. However, those three points I mentioned above make up how a problem is put right. Good customer service includes putting right problems that crop up now and again.
I do wonder sometimes why so many companies come and go. Some will fall victim to circumstances beyond their control, be it personal or economical reasons. However I believe that more often than not it is people coming into this industry, creating a company with little business acumen, believing they can make a quick few quid for themselves, failing to understand the true nature of business and all it entails. Leading to their shutting down of the business and the letting down of the people who work there and those that have relied on the products and services they provided.
I do also believe that a window and door business can be a long term venture. So long as the business and those who run it are adaptable and are willing to change with the times. And so long as they follow those three basic points I mentioned above. I believe the companies that I have mentioned in this post tick those boxes, well, at least some of them, hence they have been around for a long time and get the privilege to call themselves old.
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