Each an every year I hand pick a number of companies that I believe we should be keeping our eyes on throughout the coming year. It’s a New Year, so it’s time I did that list once again.
I have chosen ten companies that I think we should be on the lookout for. I’m basing my choices on all sorts of areas, such as products, acquisitions, financial performance etc. This is a 1-10 list, although this is not any sort of indication on the ranking of the company. These are also just my thoughts and predictions, so you are more than welcome to disagree with me via the comments section below.
1. Customade Group
Customade Group have just announced that ex-Synseal David Leng has been appointed new group CEO. You can catch up on that news here. Perhaps one of the biggest names in the sector, after leading massive expansion at Synseal, he joins a group that is also growing.
The Customade Group is made up of six brands:
- REAL Aluminium
- Virtuoso Doors
- Fineline Aluminium
- Hourglass Seal
Some big names in there. Polyframe, a super-fabricator that’s been on the acquisition trail. Atlas, a well respected lantern roof manufacturer. But I’m giving the reason why Customade is in this list is due to REAL Aluminium. They are perhaps the best example of a company that has seized the popularity of residential aluminium and moulded it in such a way as to make it simple, straightforward and very easy for installers to market it to home owners.
As the demand for residential aluminium grows, and it will, priorities for installers will turn to things like supportive marketing, ease of which to order and process, quality and customer services. The fabricators who can nail this will find themselves growing quicker than even they thought they might.
2. Brisant Secure
Ultion. A cylinder which took the window industry by storm in a way that I have rarely seen with any other product we sell as a sector. The uptake by installers was incredible, and now a great many fabricators and installers offer Ultion to their customers as standard.
Last year we saw the launch of Lock Lock. An evolved door handle with an extreme build and innovative spindle protection system that added another layer of security to entrance doors. Not only that, it’s currently making a mockery of the salt spray test, which I think is around the 5000 hour mark. Proving that if companies really wanted to, you can actually make a handle that isn’t going to pit inside five minutes of it being fitted.
They’re in this list because Lock Lock, if they get the marketing right (which with Nick Dutton is almost guaranteed) it could ruin the handle business for many a hardware company. This will be it’s first full year and I expect sales of Lock Lock to go vertical. Also, I am reliably told that there is something coming in the middle of the year that will shake things once again. Expect more on that in the coming weeks.
3. National Glass Group
Clayton Glass. Crystal Units. Custom Glass. Ecoglass. Northern Express Glass. Nova Group. Romag. Supa Seal. These are the companies that make up the National Glass Group. This is a group of companies (operating independently) that pool their buying power, support, personnel, ethics and ethos and now have group buying power over £90m. Combined they employ over 800 people.
The companies within this organisation are all of a certain type. Placed at the higher end of the market, servicing the more discerning part of our market. There is no doubting the influence this group of companies now has. Their combined influence, which I think is only going to grow in 2018 as they attract more members, is the main reason why they are in this list. But I’ll say this, whilst they are operating independently, there is no reason why in the future why they could not combine officially, or between them create a whole new market for themselves. This is a very strong and powerful platform on which to build.
Disclaimer: Solidor advertise on DGB, but have not paid to be on this list.
Solidor form part of the DW3 Products Group. A business that hold four brands: Residence Collection, Nicedor, Window Widgets and of course Solidor.
In 2017, a year which saw the wheels of Brexit really get moving, grew over 20%. No mean feat. They continue to be at the forefront when it comes to composite doors. Although not perfect, and Solidor, being as big as they are, will always admit there is more to do, they continue to influence the market they operate in. Whether it’s being the first to go with Lock Lock from Brisant. Or their Cloud 2.0 which builds on an already successful cloud-based sales platform that others have since copied.
They are on this list quite simply because of their ability to grow as a business, and the influence that inevitably brings. If the grow another 20% this year it will be one hell of an achievement.
I feel like the sysco part of the market is starting to look the same throughout. Pretty much all have a suite of products that look, operate and achieve similar energy savings. It’s good that it’s all getting better, but as diversification takes hold, there is less and less between them. I can already hear the systems companies swearing at me. You know where the comment section is.
Of the lot though, I see Deceuninck as being one of few that stand out. Their marketing, be it digital or otherwise is the only stuff that I can think of when I try to think about systems company marketing. They have also embraced colour, offering 26 colours options from stock. I’m not aware of any other systems company who offer that from stock. They are on this list because of that. Colour demand is only going to be vertical in the next decade, and the sysco that can offer a solution to that demand now is only going to benefit.
When you think about timber alternative windows and doors, you probably think about companies such as Residence Collection and Evolution. And quite rightly, they forged that path years ago and we now have a defined, specific market for these types of products. Of course you cannot forget the sash window companies either, such as Roseview. This is also a huge growth area right now that installers need to be cashing in on.
However, after winning the Timber Alternative category at last year’s National Fenestration Awards, and with their patented Timberweld® butt joint technology. This is how they explain it:
Masterframe Windows has invented and the parent company, Duchy Investments Limited has patented (UK patent 2 430 720 B) the perfect solution. This method of corner construction achieves all objectives, offering completely sealed edges which also have the appearance of traditional butt joints that customers associate with traditional wooden frames. The name Timberweld® is a registered trade mark.
They are on this list not only because of their award win, but because of the influence Timberweld® is going to have on the overall timber alternative sector.
7. Synseal – WarmCore
Hybrids. Like them or not, their popularity is slowly gaining traction. Granted it’s not exactly blowing up in the same way composite doors or bi-fold doors have done. But, for the end users who are after a very specific look for their homes, hybrids can provide that option.
In the world of hybrid window and door systems, WarmCore by Synseal is easily the leading name. It’s aluminium external and orange PVCu internal is probably the most iconic of the hybrid brands out there. Available as a window system, bi-fold system and as of last year a sliding patio system, this is the hybrid brand that has take root better than all others in recent years.
2018 could be a year where hybrid products start to make more ground with home owners. If it does, WarmCore, thanks to it’s already effective market penetration, is probably going to be at the front of that queue.
8. Prefix – Opus
Disclaimer: Prefix advertise on DGB, but have not paid to be on this list.
Synseal won’t be the only ones with a hybrid system to show off. Prefix and their Opus hyrbid system will also be in the mix.
The Opus system is Smarts aluminium externally and hardwood timber internally. One of the best things about this product is the timber internally. They have since updated the range since it’s introduction a couple of years ago, and the hardwood product on the inside is superb. And believe it or not, for me, one of the biggest selling points of this system is the smell you get from quality timber. As daft as that sounds, it really is a standout feature.
You can do anything with this. Windows. Doors. Bi-folds. Lantern roofs. Conservatory roofs. This is the complete suite. For a home owner looking for a whole house renovation with matching products throughout, this ticks that box. Not cheap, but built well, and massively customizable.
Prefix are on this list because of Opus. But also remember that this is a group, and that group expanded big time last year. I expect major growth from Prefix in 2018.
9. / 10. Eurocell / VEKA
I couldn’t split these two for this one. 2017 I felt was a massively pivotal year where the world really got on board with recycling, pollution and generally everything more environmentally friendly. This is going to grow big time in 2018, and I have written recently about my fears that the spotlight will turn soon enough to PVCu window and door products. You can catch up on that post here.
Well this is where I think both Eurocell and VEKA are going to find that their recycling plants are going to come under greater strain as the industry starts to focus properly on it’s own sustainability.
Eurocell have a PVCu recycling facility that can process 12,000 post-consumer waste frames per week. VEKA’s global network of recycling plants can handle tens of thousands of tons of PVCu per year. As an industry we are going to have to take a very serious look at what materials we use and their impact on the planet, PVCu or otherwise.
I have included these two in the list because I foresee both their facilities becoming far more used as more and more installers and fabricators turn to recycling their waste materials.
These are of course my own thoughts and opinions, and there will be plenty of companies out there in the window and door industry who are going to do great things this year. So, if you agree, disagree, or think I have missed something glaringly obvious, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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