21 years on

Sarah Hitchings, sales and marketing director of Window Widgets, reflects on the business’s 21-year history through sale and returning back to an owner/managed entity in 2019 from the management buy-out.

Window Widgets is a unique business with more than 800 regular customers, many of which represent some of the most trusted and respected window and door manufacturers in the UK.

As well as the unsurpassed Residence Collection of design-led window and doors, we supply accessories and systems to the PVCU and aluminium sectors, along with dedicated products for composite doors and vertical sliding sash windows.

The business began as a start-up by Dan Gill on May 10, 2000, firstly manufacturing run up blocks for windows and doors, hence the business name and future direction in which it was to take, and expanded quickly. In less than five years the business had outgrown the five industrial units it accommodated and moved to a new site at Madleaze Trading Estate in Gloucester.

Throughout this period, Window Widgets exhibited at the then Glassex with a bigger stand and an ever-expanding product range each year. In 2006, a joint venture with locally based GT Windows realised a new range of fixing lugs for all aluminium and PVCU window and door systems that could be used on any PVC or aluminium window frame, and the product remains a fundamental part of our portfolio today.

That year also saw Window Widgets gain BBA Certification on its range of baypole jacks, which were also sold to the likes of Rehau and other PVCU systems houses and were manufactured with the new investment in a new CNC machine. Launched at Glassex that year was Mighty Mullion, which went on to be an important product development for the then buoyant conservatory market and it was the first time that a superhero was used for marketing and promotional purposes.

The thirst for product development and innovation showed no signs of abating and the following year saw the launch of a dedicated range of baypoles and couplers for PVCU vertical sliding sash windows, and in 2008 the same product categories were developed for the aluminium systems sector.

2009 saw the launch of Werbar, and as the name suggests it’s a range of RCM reinforcements for many of the leading PVCU window and door systems and designed to help these products achieve better U-values and energy ratings. They remain a popular and important part of the product range today. The same year also saw the launch of the decorative Pilaster trims for corner posts and in-line couplers.

Given the growth in the business, in 2011 we moved into our current building in Quedgeley, just a matter of miles away from the previous site and in what was a brand-new building. For the next few years, the business consolidated and moved into window and door systems with the launch of Residence 9, or R9 as it has become affectionally known.

In 2014, we gained CE Marking on our structural and load bearing baypoles and jacks, and this product range remains a market leader in the UK, trusted by many of the big names. And in 2015 we moved into the unit next to us to create a larger scale site primed for future growth, which we’ve achieved with aplomb, particularly over the last 15 months.

It was also a period in which the business was originally sold to DW3 Products Group, which also included Solidor, and this in turn was sold to Masonite International in January 2018. During this period there was further investment in the business and in creating The Residence Collection with the introduction of R2 and R7.

This was always a difficult fit with Masonite given its almost sole focus on all things door related, and so I along with the other co-directors purchased the business as part of an MBO in December 2019, just a matter of months before the outbreak of Covid.

It’s also safe to say that after a few years of being part of a corporate group that the business is now back to its entrepreneurial best and we’re continuing to invest in the business with capital equipment, new products and processes. Earlier this year we became a business that can boast a zero-landfill standard as we look to shape the business as not only innovative, but one in which has strong green credentials.

We now have a wonderful opportunity to build this business further with the wonderful support from staff, customers and business partners across the industry and beyond. But for now it’s time to celebrate with our charitable Little Pink Book campaign that we hope the wider industry will be part of.