There are a number of what I would class as industry mega-companies, or star businesses that really stand out from the crowd in our industry. The industry’s equivalent of the football world’s Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic and Messi.
Companies like Solidor, Residence 9, Origin, Prefix, MACO are just a few examples of the giants of our industry. Well known names and brands that the industry trusts implicitly.
But what is it about these companies, and others like them, that have got them to where they are today? Here are a few of my ideas as to the reasons of their success.
Reliable, quality products
To make your mark in the glazing industry in this country, you need to have a product that installers can rely on, and are of a good quality. Installers are last in the supply chain but first when meeting with home owners looking to buy.
If installers can demonstrate and install a product that they know is going to be reliable for the future and is of a high quality, it makes it much easier to sell to the home owner. Not only that, it minimizes future after-sales work on the product, saving the installer time and the home owner frustration.
If a fabricator can nail that part, then they will find demand from existing installer customers will rise, and word will get out to the rest of the industry and bring new customers on board too.
A mega fenestration industry business has to be capable of growing and managing it well. We have all seen examples in the past where companies have grown incredibly quickly, but have failed to manage that growth and have immediately downsized or even worse gone to the wall completely. So to get to the top you have you have to handle the rise well.
A good example in this scenario is the recent move by Morley Glass to larger premises which is actually four times the size of their last home. It has allowed them to double their production capacity and now makes them the largest manufacturer of ScreenLine® integral blinds in the world. They have always been based in Morley, Leeds, and have worked steadily to get to the position they are in now. They didn’t rush. They took their time, focusing on customer service and product quality, and they now find themselves top of the pile.
Nailing customer service
Being a company at the top of that particular niche generally means having a lot of customers to deal with. So it is absolutely vital that customer service is as good as it can be at all times.
An example of this is the service we get from Prefix. For those that don’t know Prefix Systems are the UK’s largest fabricator of Ultraframe products, as well as having a growing suite of very high end solid roofs, window and door products and lanterns. They have a number of sites across the UK, and a very large network of customers up and down the UK. And I can say from a personal point of view that the service we have from Prefix is spot on.
It’s not over the top by any means, but we’re always supported on the marketing front. We’re currently finishing off a showsite revamp of one of our conservatories that was kindly supported by Prefix. We get regular visits from our local rep making sure all is well. To be at the top of your game, it’s things like this which have to be maintained for all customers at all times. It’s not easy, but it pays dividends and always results in sales.
It’s not enough just to pump out half-arsed marketing efforts in the hope that brochures and samples will find their way to the right people. The best companies in our industry spend good hard cash on producing attention grabbing marketing that installers aren’t able to ignore. When that happens, you know the marketing is working.
A great example of this is Brisant’s work with the Ultion door cylinder. Everyone knows Nick Dutton has a knack for quality marketing, and it was no different with Ultion when he joined the company. They have a suite of leaflets, posters, websites, adverts that all work in tandem with each other, promoting a clear message, in a manner that grabs people’s attentions and tells them that the Ultion is the only cylinder worth buying. The result? Ultion is one of the industry’s most successful new products in the modern era. Helps that the product is good too!
Investment in staff
You can have the best product in the world, the best ideas, the best plans, but if you don’t have enough staff or the right staff to help you get there, it’s never going to happen. Talented and skilled staff are perhaps the most important commodity to any business, and the best fenestration companies ensure that they have the staff they need to make good on their long term growth plans.
A good example of this is Solidor and the wider DW3 Products Group. They went on an aggressive acquisition run, with a group that now consists of Window Widgets, Eclectic Systems and Solidor. Three of the most well known and respected companies in our industry. But it wasn’t just companies DW3 were snapping up, they were also head hunting some of the most experienced and skilled people to help facilitate the rapidly expanding group. It’s no easy task when you look at the size of those three companies and the sheer volume of products they all produce.
Striking a balance
These are just a number of key factors that go into becoming one of the glazing sector’s mega-businesses. But you can’t just do one or two, you have to do all of the above, and strike a balance that allows it all to work together smoothly.
It’s very easy to run away with singular ideas and projects and then ignore other areas of the business that really do need attention. That is why some of our industry’s best businesses are able to do all of the above and do it well. It’s much easier said than done, and certainly not every company is able to achieve it. But those who crack it, quite often find themselves as market leaders and not market followers.
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