There are a number of growing groups of companies in the window industry. There are also a number of super-groups, the very biggest of the groups, that have in fact become bigger in 2017.

As our industry continues to consolidate and resize itself according to the changing demands and volumes out there in the marketplace, some companies get picked off and those with the cash get to expand their market share and reach into new ones.

There has however been a group that has been quietly going about it’s business, acquiring new members, expanding it’s reach, becoming one of the most influential and powerful glass groups in the UK. That is the National Glass Group, and if you haven’t yet heard of them, you will do.

Who are the National Glass Group?

Well, in the words of the group itself:

We are the largest glass buyer in the UK representing the premier Independent Glass Processors.

Our members meet a tight membership criteria; they share the same ethics and ethos, hold all of the appropriate accreditations, are financially strong and crucially they are independent, and owner managed.

The group members are able to benefit from the agility and personal attention an independent owner managed business brings, but with ultimate operational resilience through member support, unrivaled buying power and the broadest product range available in the UK. The result for our members and their customers is the Best of both worlds.

So not a super-group of companies that has been officially taken over one by one by the largest party, as is the usual case in typical mergers and acquisitions. Instead, this is a grouping of companies that are still able to trade and be run independently, but are also able to lean on each other within the group, pooling resources, expertise and buying power in an effort to aid the NGG members and then in turn each of their own customers.

It’s a novel idea. Less binding than other traditional large companies or trade bodies, yet still able to use it’s collective influence. Almost liberal in it’s set up and ethos. I like it.

They have also just announced two new members to the National Glass Group. Here is a snippet from their latest press release:

Following the news that Nova Group had joined National Glass Group (NGG) in September, the group has now announced a further two members in the form of Crystal Units based in the South East and Ecoglass situated in East Anglia.

Crystal Units was established in 1994 and operates from its facility in North West London serving the South East of England in both commercial and domestic markets. The heritage of Ecoglass stretches back to 1949 from its base in Norwich, where it has grown to be the supplier of choice in East Anglia and beyond.

In relative terms, the National Glass Group is still in it’s infancy, yet, they have managed to attract 8 very high quality, established members of the glass community. In an industry full of trade bodies and groups, the NGG has quietly built an impressive stock of member companies.

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The members and the companies

The National Glass Group now comprises eight companies:

  • Clayton Glass
  • Romag
  • Supaseal
  • Custom Glass
  • Northern Express Glass
  • Nova Group
  • Crystal Units
  • Ecoglass

The NGG now represents total group turnover of over £90m per year, which now makes it the largest glass group in the UK, with massive buying power. Across the group, the NGG now has over 800 employees spread across eight sites around the UK. This group is quickly making it’s presence felt within the glass industry, and I am sure that those on the outside will now be looking in and wondering how disruptive to normal proceedings they will be.

We need to take a closer look at the types of companies joining the NGG. These are very well established companies with long histories and a reputation for high quality. Ecoglass for example, founded in 1949, has a 68 year history. Ancient in modern day terms. Romag, the Tony Stark (Iron Man) of this group with it’s very specialised glass solutions. Clayton Glass, one of the founding companies, who are award winning and have a very good reputation within the industry as a whole. Novagroup, established in 1971. These are companies that can boast heritage, high quality and strong reputations.

As the group description above suggests, the process in which to join a group like this isn’t a walk in the park. I am not privy to the requirements needed to be able to join, but it does appear that they have to be profitable, managed by the people who own the company, and must be judged to have an ethos and ethic that promotes good and honest business. As far as principles go, these are good ones to adhere to.

What it does mean is the NGG in these early years is highly unlikely to be the type of group where anyone and everyone would be able to join. And that is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. By being critical as to who can join, you preserve the high quality nature of the group as was intended. You build up prestige of the group and in turn it’s influence and overall reputation.

This is where this group could really start to shake things up in the glass industry. By grouping together some of the best in the IGU field, the combined pooling of talent, buying power, personnel and turnover could really start to not only steal market share away from others, but also shape the way the IGU market is run.

As I see it the NGG is really building something that could change the face of the IGU market in this country in the space of just a few years. This is a liberal forming of a group that is able to draw upon the best bits of collaboration, whilst still letting members be in charge of their own companies. Watch this space, this is a group that you’re going to hear more about in the future and may really shift the dynamic of the IGU sector in the UK.

Find out more about the National Glass Group here

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