Take a look at these impressive bits of door accessory:

Ring door knocker

This is a very nice solid ring pull door knocker by Evolution!

Doctor Knocker

This is also a very nice door knocker. This is a solid metal Doctor knocker from John Fredericks.

Now look at this:

cheap urn door knocker

This is the type of cheaply made urn style door knocker we have all got used to seeing. Made on mass, in China, then shipped over here in container ships for a matter of pence for us to then fix proudly on to a door we have probably sold for a bit over £1000. Something doesn’t quite fit in that scenario does it?

I see more and more complaints about failing hardware. Door handles, letter plates, door knockers all suffering from pitting, in places far away from the coast. Some are just simply that poor they fail to reach their 5 year guarantee. But when you see the quality and build of the first two examples, you don’t get the impression that a door knocker worth at least £100 is going to behave the same.

The reason why? It’s made in good old Blighty! Perhaps we are guilty of forgetting sometimes that a lot of what is made in Britain is built to an incredibly high standard in the global context. Countries outside these shores look at Britain as one of the beacons of design, innovation and quality. Yet our companies have outsourced their manufacturing to the Far East, mostly to China, to cut corners and take advantage of cheap labour. Well that tide is well and truly turning now.

It is turning for two reasons. The first is that the Chinese workers have now finally started to realise that the amount they are working for is far less than what they should be fairly paid. They are looking at their European counterparts and seeing their wages are far higher than theirs, yet for the same work. And they don’t like it. Who would blame them? There have been reports over the past 12 months that workers in the factories that produce phones for Apple, Samsung and others have been rioting over the state of pay. Some even committing suicide. Now I’m not saying that our industry specifically is to blame for such a situation. But mass European and British outsourcing has created a scenario where Asian workers are massively underpaid for immense amounts of effort and work. We wouldn’t put up with it here.

The other reason is down to the fact that installers in our industry are starting to run out of patience with cheaply made, imported products. Problems are starting to occur more often from what I can tell, and it makes the already difficult job of being an installations company even more hard work when the products they’re installing are failing.

Take the hardware examples above. The ring pull and doctor knockers are more expensive, but look at how much better they are than their Chinese counterparts. Those who sell these will know exactly what I mean. They weigh a ton (metaphorically!). They’re solid metal. Make a great sound when used – as opposed to the very cheap and tinny sound the other ones make! The same can be said on a wider scale for our industry’s products in general. Composite doors for example. There is a distinct difference in the weight and build of say, a Solidor, with it’s solid wood slab, produced in Stoke, and the foam filled slabs made in East Asia many others do.

The other thing to consider is that the attitudes of the British people are changing too. The disaster last year in Bangladesh in which a factory collapsed killing 1000 workers highlighted the extreme and quite frankly disgusting ways we have allowed to develop in Asian countries. It is simply not right that they should have to risk their lives so they can make a cheap pair of socks, t-shirt or crappy letter plate. Whether you like buying this cheap stuff or not, morally it isn’t right, and since that terrible tragedy, focus is now slowly returning to producing things back home.

The “Made in Britain” line goes down well with customers too. When I tell them that our own suppliers such as John Fredericks, Evolution and Solidor produce a lot of what we install right here, there is a certain novelty that brings with it a higher degree of trust in the quality and build of what we’re about to price up for them. Yes we all like a bargain, but we also like things we buy to last, and be of a certain high quality.

There was a study out recently which says that most people would be happy to spend at least 5% more on items if they were made in Britain. It said people were happy to pay for a higher quality, knowing it was made here, rather than anyone else. We’re not quite at the level where everyone is happy to pay £100 for a door knocker, but we’re on the right path.

Times they are a changing people. Wage rises in China means it is no longer commercially attractive to produce over there. Consumer pride in purchasing British made products is on the rise. The morality of cheaply made, mass produced goods in unsafe environments is being questioned.

Do you produce your fenestration goods in Asia and import them? Are you considering bringing your operations back home? Do you already produce much of what you sell in the UK? I would like to hear from all sides on this one. All comments welcome in the section below.