Seminars are great places for conversation. They stir the mind and gets the idea pot churning. I got talking to Rob Small, who some of you may know from his Prefix days. He was explaining to me the new venture he has taken and the products he’s selling.

They’re all aluminium from what I could tell. VERY high end stuff indeed. He works for a company based in Blackpool. Their main business is selling InterNorm windows and doors, but they’re not cheap! Doors, including finger print technology run into the many thousands. But here’s the key, they’re selling them. They’re not there just to occupy a showroom. People are actually coming in and buying these doors for as much as we would sell a house full of windows! The same goes for the windows. £60k contracts are the norm for this type of product.

So here’s the thing. If we can sell high end aluminium products here in this country on a fairly regular basis, why is it that we have to buy this particular product in from Europe? I have focused over the last couple of weeks on this blog on Britain and what it needs to do to help boost the economy, and it’s stopping purchasing products abroad that we could quite easily produce here! There is a slot in the market here if someone spots it and has the cash to make it happen. The super-quality aluminium windows and doors we’re buying in from Germany and Austria can be made here. Think of the jobs it would create by setting the business up, building the premises, the staff required to run the place and all the other jobs that go with it!

Some will say there isn’t a big enough market. Well from what I heard today, there clearly is. Maybe not a massive one. But the start-up business manufacturing the high end ali products doesn’t have to be massive either. The building the business would work in doesn’t have to be massive. You need only buy in the necessary equipment and purchase more only as and when you need it. Make sure you have the right amount of staff needed to function at 100% – don’t over employee. It’s a niche market, but one that could be supplied by a medium sized business which is run effectively. We could then boast that Great Britain is a country which also now competes with the high fliers like Austria and Germany when it comes to the super-premium fenestration products.

It’s not just aluminium though is it. It’s our whole industry. It saddens me to think how much of what we sell doesn’t start out it’s life in the UK. Pretty much all our hardware is from Asia, as are the polymers for the PVC. Even the Japanese own Pilkington now, one of our great success stories! We know how much our population loves our great manufacturing heritage. It was one of our proudest points, along with the NHS. Imagine being able to say to your customers that a lot of what they’re buying started life on these shores in the first place. Think of the jobs it would create. The boost to our industry. I don’t care what the penny pinchers say. Yes it is cheaper to make handles in China, but there are often quality issues. I would happily pay a bit more if it was made here and made to the high British standards that we are used to.

I think that which ever manufacturer manages to effectively bring to market fully British made windows and doors, they will be on to a winner.