Fabricators produce. Installers install. That’s the general way of the fenestration world. However, at times, those worlds do crossover. Some installers fabricate themselves. Some fabricators are now installing too. It’s that last crossover which can sometimes cause a bit of tension.

Should fabricators stick to production only? And if that answer is yes, should installers then just stick to fitting?

To fit or not to fit?

I have seen on social media one or two adverts in the past couple of weeks that take a clear shot at the competition and their decision to not only fabricate window and door products, but to install them as well. Those adverts appealing to installers who perhaps feel betrayed by their suppliers who have either made it very easy to get hold of their products within a close radius of their competition, or who have started to install their products as well.

I sense that there might be growing concern from the installation community that fabricators may turn to installation as a way to branch out further and create new revenue streams. I am not aware of too many fabricators that have a fitting service as well, but there are some out there, and it’s perfectly possible that in the next few years we could see even more join that group.

That is where installers will have a problem. A lot of installers choose fabricators close to their own location for a number of reasons, ease being one of them. Should they wake up one day to find that they are now fitting as well as producing, I think they would be rightly annoyed and concerned that their suppliers could now be stealing their market share.

If the suppliers we used that were local suddenly announced that they had taken on fitting crews and were going to start offering installation around their local area, I would naturally be concerned about what business I might start losing.

Relationships would no doubt be at risk. But is it as clear-cut as to say that fabricators should not fit their own windows and doors? Remember, some installers also fabricate their own products. It would be just as easy for fabricators to say that those installers are pinching their business and that installers should stick to fitting and leave the manufacturing to the fabricators. There are arguments to be had on both sides of this fence.

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Blur the lines from the start

My own personal opinion is that fabricators should just stick to fabricating. I am biased in my opinion as I work for an installations company and wouldn’t wish to see our suppliers start fitting. What would be the point of having an installations business if our suppliers could do it all anyway?

There is an exception I would make, and that is if a new company enters the market. A fabricator will no doubt have hundreds of existing relationships with installers. So to suddenly make a move into installation would risk upsetting many of those relationships. However, if a company sets out from the start both producing, selling and installing windows and doors, then there can be no confusion as to the remit of the business. No existing relationships can be spoiled.

The same counts for installers. Imagine a scenario where an established installer who has been buying in their products from their suppliers for a long period of time suddenly decides to expand into manufacturing and to ditch the relationships with their fabricators. The fabricator could argue that now they manufacture they are now a competitor and that relationship would no longer be valid.

It’s becoming a tricky balancing act. Installers are increasingly looking to take control of the whole supply chain process. Fabricators are looking to do exactly the same, and to create new revenue streams. I think over the next few years we’re going to see the lines between fabrication and installation blur. It’s going to test the relationships between both sides of the supply chain.

All comments and thoughts welcome via the section below.

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