Methods and motivation

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell reports from a factory tour.

The recent Glazing Summit raised some key points regarding the development of the glass and glazing industry, including the increase in trade counters and the involvement of builders in window installation.

The effects can be felt up and down the supply chain as suppliers to the industry adapt to the changing market; the temptation is always there to change a company’s business model to meet those perceived needs.

These thoughts were at the front of my mind when I met the directors of Emplas yesterday – Kevin Johnson, Ryan Johnson, Kush Patel and John Leary – along with Wes Clarkson and Anthony Clarkson of Padiham Glass, to discuss the drivers behind the recent acquisition and ongoing investment in Wellingborough.

There was a lot to talk about, and you can read the full report in the July issue of Glass Times, but there was one thing that really stood out, which is that Emplas is geared to do one thing: to make excellent products.

Furthermore, every other conversation we had – about investment, acquisitions, apprenticeships, market opportunities, supply chain relationships, customer service, etc – could all be linked to this one motivation.

Yes, it sounds clichéd, but if you were to take that away, it would massively reduce the value of Emplas’s offering, and turn window fabrication into a meaningless paper-pushing exercise.

How can you talk about positioning yourself in the market without being confident that what you have to offer isn’t the best it can be? How do you discuss broadening your product offering without the right investment in tools and people to do the job properly? What are the effects on product quality if your workforce doesn’t have the right skills?

It also makes you look at other companies differently; how often does style win over substance?

At one point I asked deputy managing director Kush Patel (as he demonstrated the quality of the hardware as it was being fitted in the factory) if his customers appreciated the level of detail that went into product development. After a pause, he said: “Yes, some of them do.”

However, on reflection, I suppose that’s not the point.