There are two ways for an installer to get a composite door. They can go direct to the manufacturer. Or they can go via a fabricator. We have always gone direct to the supplier. Some choose to go through their fabricators.

In the past year or so, I have also been observing a growing commentary about the use of fabricators in the supply of composite doors to installers. A sort of re-thinking.

So when is a door not a door?

Bits of this

As I said, installers can go two ways of getting hold of composite doors. They could go to companies like Solidor, Distinction, Door-Stop etc and get a complete door set, including frame, glass, hardware and of course slab all in. Nice and easy.

Option two is to go to a fabricator. They buy in the slab, then put their own outer frame on it, own hardware suite, own glass options, and then it goes to the installer.

But with option two, at what point does that Solidor or Door-Stop door stop being that very product. If you get it all direct from them, you know that they have either made all the component or bought them all in and factory fitted them themselves. With many fabricators, they use different outer frames, different glass and different hardware. At that point the only thing that remains true Solidor or Door-Stop is the slab. Can we really still call that a true version of that brand?

I would say no. You couldn’t buy a Mercedes shell, fit it out with an Audi interior and engine and still call it a Mercedes. I don’t think you can do it with a door.

Thing is, although there are plenty of good fabricators out there who are still able to get a quality composite door out of the…door, sorry, there are some pretty shoddy ones out there as well. This is where the companies supplying the slabs will be getting itchy.

DGB Brexit

Brand protection

On more than one occasion last year I was observing conversation within the world of composite doors where major suppliers were actively considering cutting back on certain fabricators due to poor quality door sets being pumped out of their factories. As I said, there are plenty of good fabricators out there capable of putting a slab in their own outer frames to a decent quality. But, as with all industries, there is some chaff out there, and it’s the chaff that causes the most stress and problems.

And to be honest, I don’t blame them. The reality is, when a major supplier sends out their door slabs to fabricators, they lose all control of the quality control process. They rely on their fabricators to do the rest of the job right. And when they don’t, its the company at the top of the supply chain that often gets the kick in the backside.

There is little brand protection when it does go wrong. That is what I think is causing the re-think from composite door makers and their relationships with fabricators. As we move forward, I can see some composite door makers dropping certain fabricators who they believe are not doing their product justice. Keeping the ones with the better records. I also think that we could see more suppliers preferring to deal direct with installers. Direct supply gives the producers better control of the supply chain and a more straightforward relationship with the installer.

I can hear the fabricators groaning already. The reality is though, and it’s an open secret, there are some out there that really do make a hash of fabricating composite doors. Some are good. Some are not. It’s the ones that are not that the major suppliers should be looking at. The value of the brand is such a vital factor, it needs protecting.

Moving forwards, I think that the composite door market in the coming years will re-balance itself. I think there will be a shift towards the more reliable fabricators from the major composite door suppliers and more of an inclination to deal direct with installers too.

I also think that you cannot call something a true version of itself unless the product has been fitted with all it’s supplier-preferred products. For example, I don’t think you can call a Solidor a Solidor if a fabricator then goes on to fit an alternative frame, alternative threshold, alternative glass and alternative hardware on to the slab only.

There will be plenty of split opinion on this one, with all comments welcome via the section below.

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