As we look towards 2019 and the plethora of events that could shape the year to come, I want to take a look back at the companies who made their mark in the window and door industry this year.

This is a list of ten, and although numbered 1-10, is not a measure of their impact. Merely a list of ten companies who I think left their mark in what can only be described as an extraordinary year, in all sorts of spheres.

For clarity, inclusion on this comes by way of various reasons. Neither is this a list of endorsements by myself.

1. SafeGlaze UK

If we’re looking at companies who made their mark in 2018, it would be impossible to miss out SafeGlaze UK. The startup that caused major disruption in the retail marketplace, most famously rivalling Safestyle UK, who managed to put a stop to the disruption before any terminal damage could be done.

Spectacular, aggressive growth, eating into the market share of all major national installers. Formed by ex-Safestyle founder Mitu Misra, they built an order book in the millions. But then an injunction came and things started to unravel quickly from there. A deal was done to settle the litigation case brought by Safestyle and to restore order to the business.

In a matter of weeks the company was then put into administration. What looked like a stratospheric rise in a matter of months came back down to Earth just as quickly. The fallout out was major however. Leaving both staff and home owners in a right old mess. No doubt serious damage has been done to the reputation of the industry as a result.

There was a silver lining to come out of the collapse however. Warmseal, based in the North East, bought the order book from the administrators and are now in the process of completing all orders that were due to commence. It means home owners could still have their home improvement works done.

I have covered this extensively on DGB in recent months. Simply look at the top trending list on the left hand side to catch up on some of the stories.

2. Timberweld® by Masterframe

Timber alternative windows, especially flush windows, look best when they have a timber look joint. The seamless graf welders do a great job if you want a welded finish. But for those installers and home owners wanting to replicate timber as close as possible, it has to be a timber look joint.

This year has seen Masterframe and their Timberweld® technology easily steal the race to the front when it comes to creating the timber look joint so many want. Fabricators have raved about it and the company now has an extensive network of companies fabricating with Timberweld®. Installers and home owners love the finish. It’s even won awards.

For me, this is the leading name in timber look joints. In 2019 it will be up to other manufacturers and machinery companies to match the standard that has been set.

3. Safestyle UK

You can’t mention SafeGlaze this year without also mentioning Safestyle. The two were engaged in a heated battle this year. Safestyle share prices fell to all time lows, with new appointments to the board a constant throughout the year.

They of course launched that litigation action against SafeGlaze, which ultimately put a stop on their business activities and gave the company a reprieve. They’re on this list because of the drama of course. But this company is still worth watching going into 2019. Their share price after hitting a low of 30.8p per share now stands at over 80p. If you bought the dip in a big way in this company, you’re quids in right now.

4. Eurocell

When it comes to recycling, Eurocell have been one of the leading lights in the industry. There is always more to do of course, and they signalled that earlier on in the year when they purchased the recycling company Ecoplas. You can click here to catch up on that news.

Eurocell already have their own dedicated PVCu post-consumer waste recycling facility in Derbyshire capable of recycling 12,000 frames per week. However, they have very much been on the front foot in 2018 pushing the recycling message. There is very much an anti-plastic sentiment spreading across all parts of society at the moment, and I believe Eurocell to be the only company ahead of the curve in not only providing the facilities to be able to recycle end-of-life frames, but in their education process: rethink / recycle.

Eurocell showed the industry that we cannot ignore the perception and role plastic has in our society now. We as an industry cannot afford to neglect it next year.

5. Brisant

Full disclosure, Brisant do advertise on DGB. But their inclusion on this list isn’t because they pay to be on the site. I just happen to like working with the better companies.

They’re on here because of Sweet. Their new genuinely suited set of door hardware products. They dominate the door cylinder market when it comes to Ultion. But they really did manage to circle the square (flipping that phrase round for the purpose of this post) when it came to door hardware.

Sweet is a range of door handles, letter plates, door knockers, numerals, finger pulls and escutcheons that are all based around the same rounded design and will withstand corrosion. As in, properly withstand corrosion. Their door handle for example spent well over 5000 hours in a salt spray booth, making a laughing stock of the test all door handles have to go through before they enter the market.

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6. Listers

I think we all remember the shock when the news broke that Lister Trade Frames had gone into administration. Although a company that mainly serve the Stoke area, they had a hell of a positive national reputation.

Then the nefarious acts of a single person pulled the rug from under the business, throwing into jeopardy the future of the company. However, being the company they were, offers were always going to come in to rescue the business. Roy Frost, former MD of Deceuninck UK and GJB Window Systems CEO swept in to rescue Listers and began to restore normal order.

Since that happened 2018 has been a remarkable year. They had a successful re-opening and showroom invitational in the summer, and were crowned joint winners of the Fabricator / Manufacturer category in the 2018 National Fenestration Awards. Something which I know the whole team would have been over the moon about.

This is a stalwart of our industry that has gone from nearly down and out to booming again in a year. That is the reason for their inclusion on this list.

7. Masonite

All the way at the start of the year one of the world’s biggest door companies, Masonite, based in Florida, acquired the DW3 Products Group. Big news in itself, considering DW3 own brands such as Solidor, Residence Collection and Window Widgets.

But their inclusion on this list was due to the new dynamic between Solidor and Door-Stop International. Door-Stop had been bought by Masonite in 2014. Companies who were obviously major rivals now in the same stable.

The two companies have since operated fairly autonomously this year, but some overlap can be seen. With American money behind the two companies, both have been heavy on the industry marketing in 2018 and have both brought new products to the market this year.

8. FIT Show

The industry’s exhibition is on this list for a number of reasons. First, at the start of the year they were acquired by Angus Montgomery, one of the world’s biggest exhibition companies and in business for over a century. It was a testament to the journey the FIT Show had taken. From the ashes of Glassex to a show that has become the most important three days of the year. You have to respect that.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it has taken up the responsibility for showcasing and discussing some of the most important issues our industry faces today and in the next couple of years. The skills gap being the key one. They have backed the Building Our Skills initiative, which aims to tackle the dire skills shortage our industry has been dealing with for years. In 2019 the exhibition will promote this initiatives and it’s aims to the industry. As I see it, had we wiated any longer, we would be beyond saving.

So, kudos to FIT Show for backing the campaign. But as an industry we all have to get behind this in 2019.

9. REAL Aluminium

Aluminium is a booming part of our market. That’s a well known fact. REAL Aluminium have been at the forefront of that growth, simplifying the process for installers. Bringing quality products to the market and carrying out some of the most effective marketing campaigns in the aluminium sector.

However their inclusion in this list isn’t due to that on it’s own, but because of their massive 45% rise in sales year to date. Why is this important? 2018 hasn’t exactly been a smooth year. Brexit has been a big question mark over the industry this year. Add to that we’re at the end of an economic cycle anyway which means we should start to see things winding down sooner rather than later. So, to report growth in sales so strong this year is quite an achievement.

Growth of 45% is something the whole sector would have loved to achieve this year. In a year where crisis would be a pretty good word to use to sum up 2018, REAL Aluminium have done very well.

10. Aztec Windows

They’re a major supporter of flush windows. They use Timberweld® tech by Masterframe. They have produced their own range of composite doors designed for smaller than normal entrances. They managed to win this year’s #NFA18 Timber Alternative Company category, unseating some very established manufacturers. Aztec Windows have really made themselves heard this year.

It’s the reasons above rather than a single, superior reason for their inclusion on their list. Although their beating of the likes of Residence Collection and Masterframe in the NFAs is a mega achievement in itself. Also, they have become a very good template of how a smaller fabrication business could and should be run. This year has proved that being big certainly doesn’t mean being the best. Others who wish to differentiate themselves from others might want to look at Aztec as a good example.

This is my top 10, of course according to my own opinion. I am sure many of you would have other suggestions. Kick off the debate and please leave your comment via the section below or use Twitter to get the thread going!

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