aluplast’s Director of Sales, Ian Cocken, discusses how now may be a good time to re-evaluate your product offering.
I don’t think the PVC-U window and door market has witnessed a period of such intense change. Within the space of a few months, one extruder is leaving the market, creating uncertainty for its customers, two national window companies have recently found new suppliers, and the knock-on effect has caused unease among many other fabricators.
As a result, we have found ourselves in discussions with many window fabricators, bringing on three new customers in the last two months alone.
During this process, there are key lessons that I’ve learned, which I think are worth sharing.
The first is, don’t make a knee-jerk reaction. The choice you make now – if you are serious about moving to a new supplier – will have a big impact on your business.
And the second is that this period of change has occurred at the same time as a change in market trends, and it is worth re-evaluating your product offering.
Here are five things that I regularly talk to window fabricators about.
This is often the first thing fabricators want to discuss. Do we have a secure supply of a wide colour range? The answer is yes, but the pandemic has left scars where supply of coloured profile from other systems companies ground to a halt, causing havoc as products couldn’t be delivered on time.
The majority of aluplast’s flush orders include colour – as much as 50% of total order volume – and we have a range of 40 different finishes, including our premium range woodec and aludec foils. We have also invested heavily in our foiling plants with new CNC foiling machines, which allows us to maintain a strong supply.
Alongside colour, flush windows and doors are becoming highly sought after, especially on higher value projects, and it is not an understatement to say that you should have a flush casement window and flush door as part of your offering.
We designed our flush casement window so that it would be compatible with both our Ideal 70 and Ideal 4000 systems. This reduces stockholding, while giving you options for heritage flush windows and contemporary aluminium-looking windows. The recent addition of our flush outward-opening single and double door creates further opportunities for fabricators and installers.
As we’ve seen, systems companies exiting the market can cause real disruption, and our new customers need to be reassured that by choosing aluplast, they are choosing a long-term partner. We are a German family business that has grown steadily without the need for external shareholders or venture capital.
We have now moved into the new state-of-the-art extrusion facility on a 15-hectare site, which will include a production hall that can house up to 50 high-tech, high-speed twin extrusion lines. And we are doubling in size our distribution hub and sales office in Tewkesbury.
Traditionally a ‘soft’ marketing message, sustainability is increasingly being discussed at every level in the supply chain, from raw material through to end user. If you are moving to a new profile supplier, you too should be having these discussions.
Our manufacturing processes are certified to the environmental standard ISO5001, and we have led the industry with ecotech, where we extrude recycled and virgin material through two separate feeds into one die to create a profile that has virgin walls, where the recycled element is isolated within the inner profile webbing. This maximises strength and appearance, while significantly reducing our impact on the environment.
We are also pioneering new energy efficient products, including Ideal neo, a 76mm front-to-back system that offers a base-level 1.2W/m2K Uf-value, and the ability to carry units up to 51mm. This means it can achieve U-values as low as 0.73W/m2K triple glazed.
Easy to switch
Finally, once the decision has been made to switch supplier, how quickly and how efficiently will that process take? This needs to be carefully mapped out, with your needs driving the conversation, not the systems company’s. The last thing you want is for production to be halted while you switch over, potentially losing you thousands of pounds in lost revenue.
We have built an experienced team of engineers to help companies switch systems. Once a switchover day has been agreed, everything operates to make that a smooth transition.
On a day-to-day basis, few fabricators consider switching profile supply. But if you think the time has come to re-evaluate your offering, it is worth looking at the bigger picture, to make sure you are prepared for future demands within our industry.