I think it is fair to say that 2015 has got off to a pretty brisk start has it not? I know at our place we have had a glut of leads in the first week, with plenty of sales following on from that. We’ve only had one week, but if every week was as energetic as this one, then we’re in for a good year. Still, whilst most remain positive about growth in 2015, there are still some issues out there that we as an industry need to be mindful of, and make sure that these issues don’t develop into something more serious. The following are my thoughts on the five biggest risks to our industry this year, both from inside and outside the fenestration sector.

Skills and employment gaps

It was glaringly obvious in 2014 that many parts of our industry were woefully unprepared for the rapid rise in business most of us saw that year. After downsizing due to the previous recession, the industry was very much caught napping in the personnel department and it showed. Customer service, quality control and delivery times all suffered. However, towards the very back end of the year, I saw a shift towards hiring.

If 2015 is to be any different then our industry needs to start looking at expanding the workforce in quite a big way. Many installers will continue to experience growth in 2015, which will in turn put pressure on their fabricators to deliver. Suppliers need to be ready to service that extra demand so that their installers can operate as efficiently and profitably as possible. Poor quality control and poor customer service simply cannot be an issue again this year, we’re all far too busy to have to be worrying about things like that.

Plateau in construction

Through much of 2014, construction was experiencing something of a boom. In fact it was the main reason why the UK economy was doing so well. New house building was part of this major boost in construction. However, at the end of the year growth in the construction sector started to slow.

In fact, according to a BBC article on their website last week, the construction sector grew at it’s slowest pace for 17 months. Now, this isn’t exactly a crisis, but it is something worth keeping an eye on, as the construction sector has a wider impact on associated industries like building, electrics, plastering, and our very own. For small installers who deal with residential work, this may not seem that interesting. But for larger companies who deal with big commercial work, they will want a strong and robustly growing construction industry at all times.

Lack of online presence

If you thought 2014 was a big year for online, 2015 is going to be even bigger. It was great to see so many new industry companies join social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. There were some great new websites in 2014 from our industry too. Including this one from the guys at The Window Company.

However, there remains parts of our industry dreadfully behind in the online world. Some not even on there in any capacity at all. With most people using the internet to find anything and everything they want, including new windows and doors, it amazes me to see so many companies putting little to no effort in establishing an online presence of some sort.

Some out there might plod along on word of mouth alone, getting enough business to get by and pay the bills. Well that status quo is coming gradually under attack as the more proactive companies use the internet to capture more business and capture more market share. Even if an archaic company doesn’t have the IT skills in-house to create an online presence, there are companies and people out there who exist to do just that. There’s no excuse now. As each year goes by, it will become harder and harder to operate a business in this industry without having some online facet to go with it.

Troubles in Europe

While things here and in the US seem to be going fairly well, things are looking very different on the continent right now, especially in the Eurozone area.

Last week the EU economy was officially in deflation and looks set to be there for quite a while. German growth is non-existent, which is the same for France. Italy is back in recession and Greece is slipping back in to crisis mode after snap elections were called because they couldn’t agree on a new President. There are fears that should a left wing party called Syriza win control in late January, they will go back on austerity cuts and could even lead Greece out of the Eurozone.

There are many ramifications to this. Some serious and real, some speculative but devastating. The effects of a country leaving the Eurozone are unknown, it’s never been done before. What would happen to the currency? What would happen to the overall Eurozone economy? All questions without answers until that day arrives. But why is this a risk to us?

Because how how interconnected the world’s finances are, and given how close Britain is to Europe in terms of trading, big problems in Europe can transfer to the UK, affecting our own economy, therefore affecting our industry too. The last thing we need is any sort of crisis which could start dragging us in with it.

As far as risk goes, this is a problem which wouldn’t develop until later on in the year, if at all. The key date coming up is 25th January, the date when Greece goes to the polls. If they vote in Syriza, then all sorts of questions and “what-iffs” are going to be bandied about. It is that uncertainty which can be more damaging for a country than the answer itself.


This might seem an odd one, but hear me out. We have been getting used to the news about growth in our industry and the wider economy. If you read all the various market reports and business headlines, most will tell you that out industry is set for a period of steady growth which could last as long as at least half a decade. While all that sounds fantastic, being complacent and negligent of the threats out there could cause some serious harm.

The 2008 financial crisis demonstrated how vulnerable the world is when something serious happens, it affected each and every one of us. The collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank caused a worldwide financial disaster which brought the banking system within hours of complete meltdown. This resulted in much of the austerity and cuts we are seeing around the world right now. In reality we’re only really getting back up on our feet.

With the world as it is right now, another major shock like the Lehman Brothers incident could set us right back to where we started six years ago. This is why I believe our industry should be doing more to safeguard itself should something massive come along and spoil the party. Whether this is putting cash away to save, cutting waste in the business, companies buying more profitable business, it cannot harm to put up a few firewalls should the world see another big shock to the system.

What do you think? Are threats from Europe tangible? Do we still face the same skills gap as we did in 2014? All comments welcome in the section below.

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