NATFEN Awards Magazine Edition 1

NFA Digital ISSUE 1

GENERAL

WELCOME TO YOUR FIRST NFA DIGITAL! H ello and welcome to your first ever edition of NFA Digital. Your new monthly digital magazine bringing you the latest monthly publication. It is also a great way to bring tall the latest NFA news and announcements to as wide an audience in this industry as possible.

news from the National Fenestration Awards, it’s sponsors, and news from around the industry.

As #NFA17 moves into the serious end of the campaign, NFA Digital will be one of your best ways to keep up to date with all things National Fenestration Awards. If you want to see your stories featured in NFA Digital in future issues, please contact us on natfenawards@gmail.com or on Twitter: @NatFenAwards and we will work with you to bring your news to the industry.

Once a month we’ll be bringing you the latest news from the 2017 National Fenestration Awards campaign, including the timetable for nominating, voting and all the other important dates you need to keep in your diary. We’ll also be bringing you news from our sponsors, the very important people and companies supporting the awards, helping to spread our positive message and encourage everyone to take part. Why have we started this magazine? We wish to grow the National Fenestration Awards so that as much of the industry knows of us and can take part. We see NFA Digital as a great way to do that, and to also become another source of relevant information about the industry as companies submit their own releases for us to include in our

THE DATES YOU NEED TO KNOW

#NFA17 is moving into the thick end of the campaign, and we want to make sure you all have a great shot of making the voting stage of the awards this year. These are they key dates you need to know:

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GENERAL

#NFA17 NOMINATIONS PHASE: W/C Monday 9th January – Thursday 28th September MONTHLY COOL WALL COMPETITION: W/C Monday 9th January – then runs start to end of each calendar month up to the end of November #NFA17 VOTING PHASE START AND FINISH DATES: Thursday 5th October – Thursday 30th November

There is still plenty of time to submit your nominations in all 17 categories of this year’s campaign. The more nominations a company receives, the better the chance they have of making the voting shortlists phase at the start of October. So don’t stop now! To take a look at all 17 categories in #NFA17 click here: www.fenestrationawards.co.uk/2017-categories from here you’ll be able to browse the details of each one and place your nomination. You need to be registered on our website first. If you already are, great! If not, it only takes a minute and you can do that right here: www.fenestrationawards.co.uk/register We look forward to your participation in #NFA17, thanks for reading and good luck to all those taking part!

#NFA17 WINNERS WEEK: W/C Monday 4th December for 4 days WALL OF WINNERS END OF YEAR COMPETITION:

W/C Monday 4th December finishing on Sunday 17th December – winner announced Monday 18th December

Jason Grafton-Holt Co-founder / Director

CONTENTS: MAIN EVENT SPONSORS �������� 4 COOLWALL ................................14 CATEGORY SPONSORS ��������� 18 INDUSTRY NEWS .....................20

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S ynseal Group has bid a fond farewell to David Strang who has retired after more than 30 years working with the Sheerframe window system. During a lifelong career in the plastics industry, David has seen it all – from fond memories of his early days in the British Plastics Federation to the height of Sheerframe’s success as the most specified commercial window system in the UK. David was instrumental in driving some of the key innovations in PVC-U manufacturing we take for granted today, including the first lead-free profile, co-extruded weather seals and the first UK designed reversible window system. Starting his career at the BPF, David remembers working with raw material suppliers to campaign for window performance standards, leading to BS 6375 standards, and going to the advertising standards agency to dispute false claims about PVC-U discolourment by aluminium suppliers. In 1983 he moved to LB Plastics to take up the new role of Product Manager for Sheerframe, soon after they launched the first 70mm window system. It was highly successfully both in retail and in the public sector, where Sheerframe became the go-to PVC-U window supplier for local authorities. David continued to head up the Sheerframe division when acquired by Synseal Group in 2014, helping the systems house to tap into the specification market with Sheerframe’s first-class reputation in the specialist commercial sector for sheltered housing, educational buildings and inner city housing developments. SYNSEAL BIDS A FOND FAREWELL TO SHEERFRAME’S DAVID STRANG

Commenting on his time at the forefront of PVC-U innovation, David said: “It was like riding the crest of a wave in the 1980s and 90s. A lot of the time we were working it out as we went along, crystallising ideas in marketing meetings, working out what we wanted to achieve and putting them into action. These were times when there were no performance standards for weather tightness or thermal efficiency – steel and timber windows predominantly had no seals and glass was held in place with putty! “With Sheerframe we made huge advancements, eschewing copycat products in 60mm - largely inward opening designs for German refurb and new build - and instead promoting British style multilights that opened outwards like casements and reversibles in replacement sizes of 70mm. We also pioneered whole window and door systems with pre-fused gaskets and seals which, despite scepticism from the wider industry, are now the norm. “It was an exciting time to be non-conformist, and to lead the way in PVC-U innovation. It was a time when everything you touched turned to gold.”

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MAIN EVENT SPONSORS

SYNSEAL GROUP COMPLETES REFINANCING FOR NEXT STAGE OF GROWTH

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F ollowing the recent acquisition of Village Glass, the Synseal Group has now completed a refinancing with the support of its current investors and funders, H.I.G. and Proventus, who have provided substantial further funds to continue their support for the growth and integration of the group. The refinancing has resulted in a significant strengthening of the group's balance sheet and ensures that Synseal is positioned to solidify its market leading positions in PVC-U profile and conservatory roofs, and to take advantage of its strategic growth areas of glass, entrance doors and aluminium window and door products. SYNSEAL GROUP The Synseal Group has developed from a £70m turnover extrusion business prior to the MBO in 2010 to a £160m turnover multi material supplier to the fenestration industry with market leading positions in PVC-U and aluminium window and door systems, GRP and timber doors, Insulated glass units for windows and roofs. Conservatory roofs and portal frame structures. The group now employs over 1500 people across seven sites. For more information please refer to the Synseal website at www.synseal.com or contact David Leng – CEO. H.I.G. is a leading global private equity and alternative assets investment firm with more than €20 billion of equity capital under management. Based in Miami, and with offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Atlanta in the U.S., as well as international affiliate offices in London, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Bogotá, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. H.I.G. specializes in providing both debt and equity capital to small and mid-sized companies, utilizing a flexible and operationally focused/ value-added approach: H.I.G. CAPITAL

1. H.I.G. equity funds invest in management buyouts, recapitalisations and corporate carve-outs of both profitable as well as underperforming manufacturing and service businesses. 2. H.I.G. debt funds invest in senior, unitranche and junior debt financing to companies across the size spectrum, both on a primary (direct origination) basis, as well as in the secondary markets. H.I.G. is also a leading CLO manager, through its WhiteHorse family of vehicles, and manages a publicly traded BDC, WhiteHorse Finance. 3. H.I.G.’s real estate funds invest in value-added properties, which can benefit from improved asset management practices. Since its founding in 1993, H.I.G. has invested in and managed more than 200 companies worldwide. The firm's current portfolio includes more than 100 companies with combined sales in excess of €28 billion. For more information, please refer to the H.I.G. website at www.higcapital.com PROVENTUS Proventus Capital Partners is an active credit investor and loan provider to Northern and Western European companies in need of capital for expansion, acquisition financing, restructurings and refinancing. Proventus Capital Partners also conducts investments in publically traded corporate credits. The funds of Proventus Capital Partners have combined assets of EUR 2.5 billion and are managed by Proventus Capital Management AB, which is owned by management. For more information, please refer to the Proventus website at www.proventuscapitalpartners.se

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SYNSEAL GROUP JOINS #NFA17 CAMPAIGN AS MAIN SPONSORS AND #NFA17 WINNERS EVENT MAIN SPONSORS

areas within the industry with separate categories for IGUs, aluminium, PVC, timber, glass and doors, as well as the overarching systems company category which we won last year. It’s great that so many established and emerging companies can be recognised for their successes.” Jason Grafton-Holt, co-founder of the National Fenestration Awards added: “it’s great to welcome another brand new name to the NFA community. Synseal Group won Systems Company of 2016 last year, one of the biggest categories we have. It is great to see them coming on board as a main sponsor this year, and we look forward to promoting their brand, and working with them to help spread the positive message of the National Fenestration Awards to even more parts of the industry.” The nominations phase of the 2017 campaign is very much up and running, with the closing date on Thursday 28th September. The people and companies with the most nominations at the end of that period are put forward into shortlists for the industry to then vote to decide a final winner in all 17 categories this campaign. To find out more on how to take part, key dates for this campaign and more about the awards as a whole, visit: www.fenestrationawards.co.uk and follow the NFAs on Twitter for all the latest info and announcements on the awards: @NatFenAwards

A s the 2017 National Fenestration NFAs are proud to announce that leading systems company and all-round fenestration products group Synseal Group have officially joined as a #NFA17 Main Sponsor and #NFA17 Winners Event Main Sponsor. Sysneal Group are one of the UK fenestration sector’s leading and largest systems companies, boasting leading brands such as WarmCore, Masterdor, alongside their well-established PVCu business. A recent number of industry acquisitions has seen Synseal Group grow to become one of the biggest companies in UK fenestration, and also one of the most influential. Synseal Group join as main sponsors of both the #NFA17 campaign itself, and the #NFA17 Winners Event which is due to be held early next year. Andy Jones, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Synseal Group, said: “it was great to be involved in the National Fenestration Awards last year as a winner, so we’re even more excited to be supporting the awards this year as a main sponsor. The National Fenestration Awards are one of the only industry awards to recognise all the growing Awards campaign rolls deeper into the nominations phase of the campaign, the

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FELLOWSHIP HONOUR FOR MORLEY MD

M orley Glass & Glazing managing the community this month as he was awarded a Fellowship from The Rotary Foundation in recognition of his significant support for its work. Recipients of the Paul Harris Fellowship have demonstrated exceptional service, and are awarded in appreciation of the ‘tangible and significant assistance’ they have given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world. For more than 110 years, Rotary members have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace, to water and health, the organisation is committed to working towards a better world for everyone. director Ian Short has been honoured for his contributions to charity and

involved in so many worthwhile projects. When I started Morley Glass & Glazing almost 20 years ago I knew I wanted to build a business that the local community could look to for support, and it’s been such a pleasure to be able to show support and give back what I can.” Last year, Morley Glass sponsored a charity auction for Runswick Bay Rescue Boat, which raised £5000 towards providing a lifeboat rescue service in the area close to Whitby, North Yorkshire. Morley also plays a huge role in ensuring local sports clubs and societies can continue to thrive through continued sponsorship. The business also sponsors a number of teams, including Morley Rugby Union Club, Millshaw Park Rangers and Mirfield Parish Cricket Club.

To find out more visit www.morleyglass.co.uk

As managing director of Morley Glass, Ian has taken part in a number of Rotary Club initiatives. Morley Glass & Glazing is a proud headline sponsor of the Rotary Club of Roundhay’s Annual North Leeds Charity Beer Festival, which this year raised £7000 for both local and international charities. The business also took part in the Rotary Club’s Purple Crocus programme, raising money in support of a worldwide polio vaccination programme. Ian said: “It’s a tremendous honour to be awarded the Fellowship and I’m extremely proud to have been able to be

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MAIN EVENT SPONSORS

ROB MCGLENNON ANNOUNCED UK MD OF DECEUNINCK

H ot on the heels of the news that announces that Rob McGlennon is permanently taking the reins of the UK business as Managing Director. Rob was appointed in the interim after Roy Frost left the company at the end of last year. He has since led the Deceuninck team through 6-months of strong sales, spearheaded some exciting product launches to give customers the edge in the market and been instrumental in converting some well-known large fabricators to the Deceuninck brand. “Deceuninck needed someone to step into the leadership role as soon as possible and I was happy to take on that responsibility,” says Rob. “In the 6 months since, there has been a cultural change at Deceuninck. The focus is even more firmly placed on our existing customers and providing the support they need to grow their businesses. We’ve invested in joint marketing initiatives and tailored sales support across the board, for customers big and small depending on their individual requirements. This cultural shift has been recognised by customers too, with our most recent customer satisfaction survey showing high satisfaction levels. “Meanwhile more fabricators have seen precisely how Deceuninck can help them differentiate against the competition with for example the perfect offering for the growing heritage market Deceuninck UK’s sales are breaking records, the leading systems company

with our Heritage Window Collection, as well as our market beating colour offering of 26 colourways in stock for profile, ancillaries, cills and trims. “As UK MD, I’m looking forward to continuing to work together with the excellent team at Deceuninck UK to deliver what the market wants and needs to help our customers to stay ahead of the competition.” Contact Rob McGlennon on 07818 383385 to find out more about Deceuninck’s allencompassing support.

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IT’S A PERFECT, PRODUCT PACKED DIRECTORY FROM PREFIX

P refix Systems have just launched a new 56-page product directory, that’s packed with information on glazed and solid roofs, aluminium systems, URBANroom, OPUS Hybrid systems, related ancillaries and new generation products for the emerging outdoor living sector. The impressive, perfect bound publication, showcases the number of products and systems that home improvement companies can now embrace, as they look for better product performance, new revenue streams and a partnership with one of the glazing and fenestrations industry’s most trusted companies. Prefix can offer the entire range listed in the new brochure, from four regional branches, with the added benefit of localised technical support and assistance. The development of this new single source directory is an important publication for Prefix, detailing every product within their range, including many of the latest innovations launched at the FIT Show. The brochure has also been carefully sectioned into glazed roofs, solid and tiled roofs, Orangeries, skylights and rooflights, doors and windows, outdoor living, other products and customer support for ease of navigation. Hannah Gilrane, marketing co-ordinator of Prefix Systems commented: ‘This brochure encapsulates everything about Prefix Systems from our

unrivalled product range to the impressive levels of customer support from all four branches. It’s already been well received by existing customers, who’ve viewed it very much as a product bible for the extended living space and outdoor living markets. She continued: ‘We’ve now got an impressive range of marketing materials, with brochures for almost all systems and product categories, with the additional option of personalisation and bespoke covers. We are now looking to expand this further with our Orangery & Lanterns brochure and URBANroom brochure.’ For further information, on Prefix Systems and a free marketing pack, including the product directory, contact the head office on 01254 871800, visit www.prefixsystems.co.uk, e-mail marketing@prefixsystems.co.uk or add to their considerable following on Twitter @prefixsystems.

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#THECLAYTONDIFFERENCE INITIATIVE LAUNCHED

C layton Glass have just launched of why the business has become one of the most respected and customer centric IGU manufacturers in the UK. This new campaign across PR, e-mail and social media is designed to highlight many of the unique facts of the company which now boasts a capacity of 15,000 IGU’s per week. There has also been over £3million invested in the business over the last 18 months and there’s now an ability to laser etch customer logos and brand names on to IGU’s. As one of the largest independent glass processors in the UK, Clayton have a unique position in the IGU market with an owner-managed structure that allows them to be far more adaptive and hands on than many other glass suppliers, with a distinct ‘can do’ attitude. As a glass specialist, the company also benefits from not being distracted from other business units. The company now operates from a new £multi- million facility in County Durham serving the entire UK and has also been listed as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain. Ryan Green, managing director of Clayton Glass commented: ‘This new initiative fully reflects the way in which we do business and that’s starts with #theclaytondifference initiative with a view to communicating the key attributes

me at the very top. We can offer tailored solutions for all business sizes and our existing customer list boasts some of the biggest and most trusted names in the industry. He continues: ‘We’d like to think we’re business partners rather than just a typical IGU supplier and there’s a tangible point of difference. #theclaytondifference is not just about what we do, but also how we do it.’

For further information visit www.morethanjustglass.co.uk, e-mail

enquiries@morethanjustglass.co.uk or call the sales office on 01207 288200. You can also add to their growing Twitter following @ClaytonGlass.

WANT TO ADVERTISE HERE? GET IN TOUCH! natfenawards@gmail.com

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OUTDOOR LIVING, NEW RESIDENTIAL GLAZING AND HYBRID WARMROOF, ALL SHINE FOR PREFIX W ith a large number of over qualified leads from the FIT Show, Prefix Systems yet again came home from the The OPUS aluminium & timber composite full height glazing also formed part of the showcased hybrid WARMroof, along with sumptuous bi- folding doors from the same suite. Other glazing systems included the Alitherm 47 heritage window and the VS600 vertical sliding window from Smart Systems, which formed part of an traditional

industry’s dedicated trade show with considerable interest for their new products, which included developments for the outdoor living market, new residential glazing systems and the formal launch of their hybrid WARMroof. Prefix Systems committed to their biggest stand ever and were warmly rewarded with a large number of qualified leads. The introduction of their outdoor living range in 2016 has been a major plus for the company, with sales of their revered Verandah strong throughout 2016 and into 2017, again with considerable interest on their stand. This was also supplemented with enquiries for their new KOMMERLING Pergola, as they have secured exclusivity through the trade channels and will be formally launching the product in the coming weeks. The WARMroof has been a defining product for Prefix, as the most adaptive and configurable solid, tiled roof in the sector and the FIT Show proved to be the perfect platform in which to formally launched the hybrid variant, which was previewed at last year’s event and has undergone extensive ‘in the field’ testing over the last 12 months. The roof shown incorporated two large, fixed, triple glazed panels that were finished off to the underside with luxurious OPUS hardwood cladding, while the other side of the dual pitch roof offered two Velux rooflights, again framed out with hardwood cladding.

Orangery, harnessing the proven iX250 Orangery deck. This was glazed with two ultraSKY lanterns with two different finishes internally, one in contemporary aluminium, the other in the OPUS luxurious hardwood. The trend towards aluminium was also further highlighted with the launch of URBANroom, a contemporary twist on the traditional conservatory, using a dedicated deep section gutter shroud, ultraSKY lantern roof, internal pelmet and full height glazing panels, all in sky blue from the Smart Systems Sensations range. This part of the stand focussed heavily on the full kit solutions available through Prefix Systems, with an extensive range of Smart aluminium products coupled with the glazed roofing solutions. Prefix Systems have taken a leading role in supplying this ever-growing sector of the market for full kit solutions from a single source. These product packages are supplied nationwide and backed up with the technical knowledge and service that customers have come to expect from the multi-award winning business that is Prefix Systems.

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For further information, on Prefix Systems contact the head office on 01254 871800, visit www.prefixsystems.co.uk, e-mail enquiries@prefixsystems.co.uk or add to their considerable following on Twitter @prefixsystems.

Chris Baron and Chris Cooke, co-directors of Prefix Systems commented: ‘The FIT Show again proved that customers have a thirst for new products and we’ve certainly satisfied that with developments spanning a number of market segments. We’re now firmly cemented as a business that specialises in the extended living space and aluminium residential sectors, with a number of exclusive products to our name.’

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CATEGORY SPONSORS

VIPS GATHER TO MARK DECADE OF MANUFACTURING

W arm edge experts Edgetech welcomed VIPs from throughout the industry to a celebration marking a decade of UK manufacturing. The company’s Coventry factory became the first warm edge manufacturing facility in the country back in 2007. Exactly ten years on, dignitaries including Bill Griffiths and George Wilson from parent company Quanex and John Blundell, Deputy Lord Mayor of Coventry, marked the anniversary by officially opening a $1.3m extension to the same site. Attendees heard presentations from Edgetech UK Managing Director Chris Alderson, President of Quanex IG Systems George Wilson, who has since been promoted to COO of the Quanex Group, Quanex Chairman and CEO Bill Griffiths, as well as industry expert Andrew Scott, Managing Director of Insight Data. Guests were also treated to a virtual tour of the new facilities. “We were absolutely delighted to welcome so many colleagues, customers, members of the media and others to our HQ to celebrate such a major milestone and unveil our new facilities,” comments Chris Alderson, Edgetech UK Managing Director. “This event has given us a fantastic opportunity to reflect on everything we’ve accomplished over the last decade, and to say thank you to our customers, many of whom have been with us since day one.

“It also gave us the chance to share our vision for the next decade and beyond – and demonstrate both our strong relationship with Quanex, and our unwavering commitment to product research and development.” The Quanex Chairman’s Safety Award was presented to Works Manager John Stark to recognize Edgetech UK’s impeccable safety record, while Head of Marketing Charlotte Davies received a £1,000 donation from the company towards her efforts for Paddle2Pedal, the all-female event from GM Fundraising that will see 12 fenestration professionals canoe, abseil and cycle hundreds of miles in August to raise money for the Hope House Children’s Hospice. Attendees made generous charity donations also totalling £1,000 sterling and – reflecting the international guest-list – a further £500 in dollars and euros which brings Charlotte’s fundraising total so far to over £4,000. The event culminated with a fun-filled medieval banquet, and Edgetech’s annual golf event the following day. For more information on Edgetech’s range of spacers and to stay up-to-date with the latest developments from the company visit: www.edgetechig.co.uk

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CATEGORY SPONSORS

BRISANT SPONSORS COMPOSITE & PANELLED DOORS #NFA17 CATEGORY

Nick Dutton, CEO of Brisant Secure, added: “We were delighted to be approached by Jason to sponsor the NFAs. Now in their fifth year, these independent awards have quickly become a popular fixture in the industry’s calendar, supported by some of the biggest brands in the glazing trade.” Brisant is one of the market leaders in high-security door cylinder technology with the Ultion cylinder lock, which has TS 2007 3 Star and Sold Secure Diamond. It’s a product that much of the residential door market has been very quick to make as its standard offering to homeowners. The 2017 National Fenestration Awards campaign is now up and running, with 12 out of 17 #NFA17 categories currently live at the time of writing. To find out how to play your part in this year’s campaign, visit www.fenestrationawards.co.uk. If you would like to see your brand promoted during the 2017 campaign please visit www. fenestrationawards.co.uk/sponsorship or email natfenawards@gmail.com for more information. You can also follow the National Fenestration Awards on Twitter for all the latest news and updates: @NatFenAwards.

B risant Secure, the company behind the wildly successful Ultion high-security door cylinder and the radical new security handle Lock Lock, is sponsoring the Composite & Panelled Doors category in the 2017 National Fenestration Awards campaign. Brisant Secure will be associated with this category for the whole of the #NFA17 campaign, right up until the #NFA17 Winners Event. Although not a composite or door panel company, Ultion’s success in the residential door market gives Brisant a natural affinity with this category above all others. Commenting on this positive news for the NFAs, co-founder and Director Jason Grafton-Holt said: “to be welcoming Brisant Secure to the NFAs, with Nick Dutton, Steve Stewart, and the rest of the talented group of people there, is fantastic news. Their success with Ultion is practically unprecedented: it took the industry by storm. Lock Lock, launched earlier this year, looks set to do the same, having secured several high- profile customers already, with Solidor as an official launch partner. Having their support for the Composite & Panelled Doors category is great news, and we look forward to working with them.”

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INDUSTRY NEWS

TIMBER LOOK JOINTS COULD BECOME AN INDUSTRY STANDARD SOON

O ne of the many trends to appear out of the UK window industry in recent years is the rise in popularity of the timber-look joint. Or the mechanical weld. Or the mechanical joint. Whatever you want to call it, it is a product option that has gained strong traction in the world of windows and doors in the last few years. Many fabricators have rushed to be able to provide mechanical look joints to their sashes, with some going the extra mile to design their own bespoke system in an attempt to score one more USP over their competition. There’s not doubting they look a lot better than traditional welds. But seen as though I am looking at the industry through a lens ten years down the line, why not hypothesise as to whether timber look joints on sashes will become a new standard too.

DRIVEN BY TIMBER The very reason this sort of addition on PVCu windows is even a thing right now can be traced back to timber. As each year passes the demand for PVCu products that look more and more like timber rises. And with that, you’re going to need features that make PVCu look a little like their ancestors. Hence, joints on sashes that either look like timber joints or are actually mechanically jointed. Mechanical joints have been available on outer frames of windows and doors for a fair old while. We have been using them for years on our engineered doors for ages. But, only in the past few years have mechanical joints on sashes become available and a genuine selling point for fabricators and installers.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Timber alternative products are only going to rise in popularity in the next ten years or so. If you’re a company such as Residence Collection, Evolution, Masterframe, Roseview, or even just a fabricator that produces a product aimed at the timber alternative market, the future looks bright. The question is, how long will it be before timber look joints become the standard and replaces welds? I would wager that if you were to ask any of the above companies, they will tell you that since the introduction of timber look joints to their sashes, sales of that particular specification of product has risen year on year, and strongly. It all boils down to home owner demand and their requirement for PVCu to look more like timber. So long as home owners continue to demand products like this, features like timber look joints will only rise in popularity. To be fair, on products like Evolution and Residence Collection, the welds are pretty damn thin. It’s not as if they’re the thick, ugly welds often seen on basic, cheap PVCu profiles. That being said timber look joints still look better. My opinion of course, but I reckon plenty will agree. But as sales of timber look joint welds on sashes rise, suppliers will have to decide as to whether they retain the mechanical look as an upgrade, or introduce it as a standard feature and relegate the weld to the bench. It will depend on sales figures of course, but I have not doubt than in five to ten years time, sales figures will be booming. I like to think of this as a fairly similar scenario as to when Solidor first introduced the Ultion door cylinder as an optional extra upgrade to their doors. You would pay more to have the Ultion, or stick with what you were given or put your own cylinder in. Before long, Solidor supplied the Ultion cylinder as standard as it’s popularity grew and it became apparent that it need not supply any other option. Since then, plenty of other suppliers SHOULD IT REPLACE A WELD?

have ditched their previous offerings and now only supply the Ultion cylinder. I believe that fabricators will face a similar decision when it comes to welds and timber look joints on their sashes. As sales of the product rise, and home owner demand for mechanically jointed PVCu products rises, I believe that some will take a serious look at whether they should be doing it as standard. It would be a brave decision. Unlike a door cylinder, which is fairly innocuous in the grand scheme, a timber look joint is not. It is a very obvious detail on a window or door product that is going to stand out. There is no guarantee that all home owners will like this look. Plenty will I have no doubt, but there will always be that percentage of home owners who either aren’t bothered about it, or even don’t like the look of it and prefer a weld. For that reason, suppliers could stick with timber look joints as an upgrade rather than a standard feature. That being said, I think that if the industry decided to ditch the weld altogether and press ahead with timber look joints, most home owners will go with it. There is one bigger barrier however, and that is cost. Timber look joints cost a fair chunk extra over welds. A house full of windows and doors with timber look joints can easily cost hundreds of pounds extra, thousands even if there happens to be a large property with lots of windows and doors. Unless the cost of the technology comes down significantly over the next decade, it may be a very brave supplier to ditch the cheaper weld for the more expensive mechanical joint and expect installers and home owners to readily pay for it. All in all though, this is the direction the window industry is heading in. As I have written in a previous post, shiny white products are on the slope down, and demand for more authentic looking PVCu products is on the rise, and timber look joints on sashes forms a part of that.

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EPWIN GROUP SHARE PRICE PLUMMETS ON HALF-YEAR TRADING UPDATE T o say it’s a bit of a rocky time for some of the bigger companies in this industry at the moment is a bit of an understatement. Additionally, since the AGM the Group has noted changing circumstances within its customer base affecting two of its customers, each accounting for around 5% of the Group’s revenue. One has significant funding issues and is undertaking a

There is a lot being talked about internally, but it’s not getting the column inches or pixels on screen. Roller coaster is an apt word I would say at the moment. Roller coaster is also the way in which I would describe the performance of share prices from some of our industry’s biggest trading companies. Today was no exception. One of our biggest, Epwin Group, took a battering today as it announced it’s half-year trading update.

strategic review, whilst the other has sold its plastic distribution business which is principally supplied by Epwin, to a competitor of the Group. The implications, if any, of these matters remain unclear at this stage. Aside from these two specific issues, the Board’s current view is that the outturn for the full year ending 31 December 2017 will be marginally below market expectations. The Group’s financial position remains strong with net debt at the half year less than one times 2016 EBITDA and with significant funding headroom to continue to invest in the business. conditions continue to be challenging, we remain confident of the long term growth drivers in the RMI market and continue to progress with our strategy, focused on operational improvement, selective acquisitions to broaden our product portfolio, cross-selling across our brands and product development. We are confident in continuing our record of strong cash generation and our ability to offer an attractive dividend to shareholders.” NOTICE OF RESULTS: The Group will announce its half year results for the six months ended 30 June 2017 on Wednesday 13 September 2017. I’ve highlighted in bold the important bits in that statement. Materials price inflation has been the blame of many for price increases from just Jon Bednall, Epwin Group Plc Chief Executive, commented: “Whilst the current market

THE STATEMENT HERE’S THE BUSINESS BUMPF: Epwin Group Plc (LON:EPWN), the low

maintenance building products manufacturer, supplying businesses in the Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (“RMI”), new build and social housing sectors, announced today its half year trading update and notice of its half year results announcement. TRADING UPDATE: Revenues and operating profits in the first half year were in line with the Board’s expectations despite market conditions, particularly in the key RMI market, remaining challenging. As reported in the AGM Statement in May, materials price inflation has also had an increasingly significant impact upon costs in the period and this continues to be the case. In response to the on-going market conditions, since the half year the Group has commenced a programme aimed at adjusting its capacity and cost base.

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about every single supplier in the window and door industry in the past year. I think we all know who the company with significant funding issues is. And the plastics distribution business refers to the SIG buyout by GAP. Near the end it gives a gentle warning that 2017 isn’t going to be as good as they thought it might be. “Marginally below expectations” is business terminology wheeled out well in advance to cushion what might end up being a bigger blow than predicted.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SHARE PRICE TODAY:

CREDIT: BLOOMBERG

That is a drop of 19.47% in a single day. So despite the tempered language of the statement, traders didn’t like what they saw. Their share price is now at a multi-year low, and now worth less than half their highs from a couple of years ago. But, Epwin is not the only major UK fenestration company to be giving out warnings and suffering share price drops. We all know the trouble Entu is in right now. And there have been a slew of profit and revenue warnings, poor quarterly and half- year trading updates. Insider industry talk isn’t saying much in the way of good news about the biggest national retailers on the sales front either.

So why now? How are so many of our biggest now in a position where they’re starting to wonder how solid the ground beneath them actually is?

THE MARKET AND SALES TACTICS For me, the answer is two-fold. Firstly, the market is killing the big companies right now. Material cost increases show no sign of abating. For the parts they can pass on down the supply chain, the rest is eating up into their profit margins in a big way. The largest always get hit first and hit hardest and we’re seeing the results of that in share prices and company reports.

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The second reason is much more long term and widely predicted, and that is all down to sales tactics and business models. We all know how the national retailers go about attempting to sell to home owners. If you watched White Gold on BBC 2 the other month, well that is how many sales people working for the nationals still go about it. Also, the suppliers who sell to the nationals are getting hit too. When their national and large retail businesses struggle with sales, as they reportedly are, they suffer as well. What we are now seeing is a convergence of two major factors here, short term high-intensity material price fluctuations, coupled together with a business sales model that is massively outdated

and is now clearly having a very negative impact on certain companies in our industry.

It will only get worse in my opinion. Prices are only going to rise in the short to medium term, and you can bet your last penny that home owners are only going to continue to shun the typical hard sell approach to sales. The largest companies have failed to change their business models to suit an industry that has grown up in many ways, and it is now some of the largest that currently look like some of the weakest out there.

Watch this space. It could be a very bumpy few weeks and months ahead.

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A BEAUTIFUL CONSERVATORY RESTORATION FROM FRAMEXPRESS

W hen a leading industry figure contacts a company to discuss a conservatory restoration project at their own home, it sends a clear message of confidence to builders, installers and other fabricators. For David Amos, Management Consultant at D&G Consulting, the quality standards and exceptional customer service at FrameXpress were already known to him. Understanding the market and being able to provide a solution that would enable a first generation conservatory to be upgraded to the modern standards of today, would be the challenge for the team, as the traditional home needed a retrofit that would complement the existing architectural style. Working with the technical advisors at frameXpress, preparations and layouts began to take shape, with the stylish concept soon complete. Due to roof height and limitations caused by the depth of the foundation wall on the original conservatory, David opted to create a unique design using the Optima system. The cream exterior blended well with existing windows while white interior provided a bright, modern interior finish. Specially designed French doors were also produced to match the more modern style. The entire venture has been a labour of love for all parties with the carefully designed pro-ject having been meticulously planned to ensure that the conservatory could be used all year round. As frameXpress continues to build upon its well established reputation for supplying pre-mium products, this is reinforcing its leading market position nationwide.

Ian Davis, Sales Manager believes that the high performance benefits of the thermally efficient conservatory products in the range, which include solar reflection and a low maintenance, self- cleaning glazed roof, provide complete peace of mind for both installers and homeowners. As a quality engineered product the frameXpress range provides huge advantages with positive feedback, referrals and sales continuing to increase month on month. Ian Davis comments, “The company has seen positive trading results this year which I at- tribute to providing advanced products that will meet the exacting standards of the more discerning homeowner.

He continues, “Without doubt the thermally efficient conservatory roofing option is proving

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popular as it provides radical benefits that were previously unheard of in this industry. The ability to provide a conservatory that offers climate control and year round usage is becoming increasingly attractive to homeowners. That David opted to choose products from our range which could be tailored exactly to his specification, demonstrates our commitment to customer satisfaction and the reputation the company has achieved throughout the industry.” The professionalism and reliability of the frameXpress team is considered one of the best in the industry by many customers who rely upon the high standards of the entire team. David Amos comments, “The flexibility and guarantees offered by frameXpress help to place it in a very strong market position.

The conservatory industry has seen tough times over the years, however frameXpress has successfully steered through tough economic storms, re-evaluated its position in the market and subsequently introduced ways to substantially support customers and inspire the consumer, which is clearly demonstrated in this bespoke design project I commissioned.” Ian Davis concludes, “Understanding both our customers’ and the consumers’ needs re-main of paramount importance. At frameXpress we continually strive to provide the market with innovative products that are guaranteed to the highest standards and that will stand the test of time.”

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CUSTOM GLASS GAINS LEADING EDGE WITH BYSTRONIC INSTALLATION A recent investment in equipment from Bystronic Glass UK is set to further raise the corporate profile of Custom Glass. After substantial investment by the Liverpool products that we manufacture our machinery must be able to adapt to handle all sizes and shapes. This new system is extremely user friendly as it constantly calibrates itself so what-ever comes down the line is automatically recognised.”

based company, the installation of a Comfort Line is expected to set a benchmark for the industry that will also further improve the company’s market position as one of the UK’s leading glass processors. Custom Glass has achieved substantial growth since it was established in 1982 as one of the country’s main manufacturers of domestic glass and toughened safety glass in the North West. Since Jeff Hooson took over as Managing Director, with more than 40 years experience in the sector under his belt, there have been considerable changes for the better. Consequently, the new 2.3 x 3.5 m Bystronic system will help to further automate production methods and increase efficiency to provide consistently high quality products. Recognised for excellent service and quality, Custom Glass produces glass products for both the commercial and domestic markets offering a diverse range of glass solutions. With a product portfolio that comprises various types of coated glasses senior management considered it vital to invest in state-of-the-art equipment, to take the company forward. With previous investments having been made in modern Bystronic machinery, the new IG line needed to run at the right speed alongside other production lines, whilst also having the ability to cope with larger commercial units.

TAILORED SOLUTIONS MAKE LASTING IMPRESSIONS The system replaces an older line used for domestic products which could not accommodate larger shapes for commercial applications. One aspect which impressed the Custom Glass team, during the purchasing process, was the tailored solutions which were meticulously created to ensure the system could fit into an extremely small production area. Jeff Hooson continues, “We were so impressed when Paul Gibbs and the engineering team managed to shoehorn the line into a very small space. After installation there was less than an inch in height difference with the roof of the production floor.

Jeff Hooson, Managing Director, Custom Glass comments, “Because of the assortment of

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Having tried other brands previously, there is now excellent quality consistency with the ‘Comfort Line’ system, and thanks to better after sales service packages we were naturally drawn to invest further in the Bystronic range. As a company we have always been progressive with a view to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for glass supplies. As time has passed we have become more automated and with each investment it has improved standards not just for us but for our customers. The first Bystronic line included hotmelt sealing robots which was one of the first systems of its kind in the UK. The company has proved itself as a supplier and I have not been disappointed in the investment - the system runs very well indeed.” Being a Founding Director of the National Glass Group it was inevitable that Jeff Hooson approached group members to evaluate and discuss the best products for Custom Glass. Subsequently, further investment in Bystronic and Hegla products has been made with cut-ting and washing solutions due to be installed later in the year. CONSISTENT QUALITY Quality, high performance production standards and customer satisfaction remain a priority for the company. With industry regulations and market sectors continually changing in relation to glass and glass products, investment in modern, reliable equipment was imperative. Jeff continues, “The capabilities of the Comfort line suits the dynamics of this company and our business plan. Paul clearly defined the key benefits and we believe that the Bystronic equipment is the best on the market. The company took a forward thinking approach when evaluating our needs and this will help us to remain at the forefront of the industry.

larger shapes will inevitably follow. The Bystronic Glass reputation is first class and we know that we can supply our customers with consistently high quality products. We believe that our reputation will be further enhanced by our association with the Bystronic and Hegla brands.” Operating out of 100,000 sq ft manufacturing facility Custom Glass provides a broad range of products and services to the fenestration and glazing sector. As one of the largest independent glass manufacturers in the UK, the company offers a broad portfolio for commercial and domestic applications, details of which can be found on the website: www.customglass.co.uk Paul Gibbs, Sales Consultant, Hegla UK comments, “We consider we provide superior products and services which reflect our corporate philosophy of working alongside customers to ensure they achieve their targets. We have developed a strong working relation-ship with Custom Glass and feel confident about the new installation.” For more information on the glass solutions available from the Bystronic Hegla Preferred Partnership please call one of the team on 01908 251933 or 01952 677971

Production at Custom Glass will increase considerably and product diversification with

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