Looks like we’re going to be hearing a lot more about a new company called Garnalex during the rest of 2019.

Their website isn’t fully functioning yet, and their products are still in development. But there are some things we do know already.

A company with a high achieving founder

Garnalex is a new aluminium extruder and systems company that is founded by Roger Hartshorn. Roger was founder and CEO of Eurocell from 1999 to 2005, and was group CEO of HL Plastics until the summer of 2018. He has a history of success with both companies, and I would class him in a bracket of a handful of people in this industry who are able to create success from the ground up in a way few others can.

According to the company, Roger has invested £9m (so far) in a new manufacturing facility located in Nether Heage in Derbyshire. They have taken delivery of a 170-tonne aluminium extrusion press, which was so big it needed a police escort from Hull to Nether Heage on an approved route. They also had the employ the skills of German engineers to help assemble it in the factory.

They are also putting together a team of well known industry figures to head up the company. These are who have joined the company so far:

· Phil Parry, Technical Director – previously worked at LB Plastics, Eurocell and helped bring WarmCore to market for Synseal. He’s to be responsible for testing and development of the Garnalex window and door system.

· David Lennox, Operations Director – previously worked at Eurocell, Epwin Group and HL Plastics

· Adrian Girling, Software Development Director – previously worked at Business Micros and Total Glass. Will be responsible for creating new software to work in conjunction with the new Garnalex system.

· Emma Arrell, Finance Director – previous Finance Director of HL Plastics Group.

You can’t build a great business without a great team, and with those who are now on board, they do appear to be building a great team.

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Product plans

According to the company, they won’t be selling their own bespoke aluminium window and door system until Q1 of 2020. Until then, they will start selling bespoke trade extrusions to systems companies and others.

For me, this is the right way to do it. Get the ball rolling with extrusions that are already available and gain new trade customers from the off. This helps with initial cash flow coming in, and setting a base from which to grow with existing customers. No doubt conversations will already be taking place with certain fabricators to come on board as soon as possible.

I am also a fan of taking time to develop a new system. Think about it, when was the last time we saw the creation of a brand new systems company? Liniar was introduced in 2008, so I guess 11 years ago. But that was in the established market of PVCu.

Aluminium is a very different kettle of fish, and has undergone a renaissance in the last decade in the residential market. But, it remains second fiddle to PVCu in this part of the market, and aluminium systems companies have perhaps been caught on the back foot a little by it’s sudden resurgence and demand for innovation drive by installers and home owners.

Roger comments: Unlike PVC-U and timber windows, which have transformed themselves over the past 30 years or so, aluminium windows are pretty much as they were in the 1980s. From the point of view of fabricators and installers, it’s almost as if time has been standing still. But I’ve fallen for aluminium and its huge potential and have built the best window design team in the industry, and we’re building in to the window all the innovations and improvements that should have taken place over the last 30 years.

I’m sure some of the other aluminium systems companies might disagree with the time standing still comment! But, it is a statement of intent from Roger to upend the current way of doing things in the world of residential aluminium windows and doors.

Under wraps

We don’t yet know anything about the bespoke Garnalex window and door system. We don’t know anything about colour, system options, hardware or anything else along those lines. We only know so far that production of the new system is going to start in Q1 of 2020.

However, we are promised that all of the innovations to have come to market in the past 30 years will be built in to the new system. So, I anticipate that it will be a market leader from the start, incorporating design features and high levels of energy efficiency that have helped transform the PVCu part of the market.

Other aluminium systems companies, as well as the rest of the industry will be keeping a close eye on Garnalex over the next few months. What will be interesting to see is the reaction from others to the introduction of a new competitor to their market place.

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