First of all let me start this off by saying this is simply an idea, and probably way from perfect. But it’s an idea I have been thinking about more and more about, especially over the last 18 months. Should fabricators start producing everything? When I mean “everything”, I mean PVC, aluminium and timber.
Installation market fragmenting
Over the past couple of years, we have seen the rise of timber and aluminium in a big way. The installations sector was almost completely PVC dominated. Recently though, both previously popular materials are having one hell of a comeback, and installers aren’t able to ignore it. Many now have a second product portfolio, aluminium or timber, to sit alongside the PVC products they sell. Some even do all three. Installers recognise that by passing up this new interest in alternative materials, they could be missing out on all important sales.
Here’s the problem. To be able to sell, two, three or even more types of window and doors system, it means the installer has to buy from individual fabricators. The logistics involved with that are massive. Pricing systems for all three would be different (although simple online pricing such as the one developed by Truemans would help), ordering would be different for all three, there would be more reps from fabricators, more meetings. You get my point. Even though it causes a lot more stress to buy from different suppliers, installers are unable to ignore the opportunities and go ahead and get stuck in anyway. This is where I think there could be a gap in the market to fill.
Now hear me out before you start laughing over your morning coffee. I believe that there is an opportunity here for either a new type of fabricator, or for a well financed and prepared fabricator, to really overhaul their market position and start fabricating all three main types of material. A chance for a fabricator to product PVC, aluminium and timber windows. Lets look at some of the advantages:
No more dual-sourcing
There’s nothing wrong with dual sourcing. Most fabricators understand that they can’t provide everything for every customer. But what if they could? If the cash and personnel were available, could it be possible to then be able to say to their customers that they now don’t need to use other fabricators to buy their aluminium or timber products?
Thinking from a fabricators perspective, it’s always nice to have loyal customers. It’s one of few liberties you can have in this industry. So by being able to provide existing clients with aluminium and timber products, would it not be then possible to build extra loyalty via new product services traditionally offered elsewhere?
These are just a couple of points from a fabricator’s point of view. With my installer’s head on, I know it would save me a lot of logistical head aches. I’d be able to order everything from one supplier. I would be familiar with what ever pricing format they are using. I would have one rep to cover all products. It would cut down on paper work. Existing relationships with staff wouldn’t need to change. There are a lot of advantages to the installer. So many that a super-fabricator like this could easily attract new customers. But it’s not all roses with this idea.
Lack of space would be a nightmare
The way a fabricator is run would have to be completely overhauled in every single way. Extra staff would have to be hired to oversee the new lines. IT systems would need to be rebuilt and all staff retrained on how it all works. The physical capacity of the building would need to increase to cope with the extra tooling and storage space for stillages and finished frames. The marketing strategies would need to be massively adapted. The list goes on. And it’s because of these difficulties with the idea that many won’t even give it a second thought.
There are some out there which do a couple of systems already. Take Demspey Dyer for example, they do both timber and PVC, but no aluminium. Would they ever add a third option to their offerings? Who knows, but I bet their installers who both PVC and timber are happy that they can order both from the same business. And this is what I’m getting at. I really believe there is room, perhaps for a new company, for a brand new uber-fabricator that produces the best PVC, timber and aluminium windows, doors, bifolds, conservatory roofs on the market. Have their installers ordering everything they need under one roof. With the way the market is fragmenting and demand for choice increasing, is it that stupid an idea?
Aluminium is a completely different beast to PVC in any number of ways, from handling through to availability , I suspect that anyone trying to run the manufacture of both would need different company outlooks, storage, production and pre-production set ups.
The thinking behind these 2 ways of doing things throws so many differences that it would seem a good idea to keep them seperate !