A commitment to quality

Brian Kruger, managing director of Shropshire-based trade fabricator Universal Trade Frames, discusses what it takes to succeed in fabrication today.

We moved into window fabrication in 1996 and, with recent market research reporting ‘significant headwinds’ for the industry, it would seem that change is here to stay.

As an established family-run fabricator we are accustomed to change and uncertainty, and over the years we have always adapted to ensure we can satisfy the needs of the end-user.

The sale into the end-user is still as challenging; the customer of today is well rehearsed on what they want, and unless you can show that you have something different to offer, the sale becomes even harder with just ‘me too’ products in your portfolio.

Over the past ten years we have witnessed an influx of products with very similar overall aesthetics with little to differentiate but today’s customers are likely to demand something much more. Nothing is forever and replacement is often inevitable, whether driven by a desire for change in taste, improving thermal efficiency, or simply because the product wears out. In the replacement window market, it is more likely to be the first two points, where consumers want something different while improving the energy efficiency of their home.

A good fabricator’s portfolio these days should offer plenty of variety and value-added products to capitalise on the latest trends, styles and colours so they can give installers what they need to secure the sale. Our latest addition to our portfolio, the Flush Casement window, delivers excellence at every level and mimics the appearance of a traditional nineteenth century casement window. Its authentic appearance is achieved with a bevelled exterior and with a bevelled or sculptured option for the interior. The sashes and deep bottom rail are mechanically jointed and authentic hardware completes the authentic look.
Colour is also a trend that looks here to stay as homeowners become more adventurous with colour. We offer a comprehensive range of coloured products – customers can choose from the 28 coloured foil options in the Spectus Spectrum range foiled onto white, brown, tan or cream profile. Alternatively, frames can be painted in any RAL colour finish. Both of our foiled and painted finishes come with a 10-year guarantee.

Other products in our portfolio includes the Spectus Elite 70 system, Spectus Elite 70 Framed Solidor composite doors, the Spectus Vertical Slider, triple glazed options, Residence 9 windows, patio doors, conservatories, Ultraframe conservatory roofs, aluminium windows, aluminium bifolding doors, canopies and Kestral roofline and cladding.

Accreditations and compliances are more important than ever because today’s consumer is more cautious and sceptical. It’s vitally important that we make this investment so that our installers can have peace of mind that the products they purchase from us meet all the requirements, and there can be no comeback on them.

Any installer who chooses to buy a product from another company for a few pence cheaper, but comes without the most up-to-date accreditations, is making a false economy and leaving their business seriously exposed.

We also make sure we leverage the benefits of partnership working. We work closely with our systems house, Spectus Window Systems, and have enjoyed a close working relationship with them for two decades. We recently signed up to its Excellence as Standard membership programme that aims to drive standards even further.

We take the same partnership approach to our installers. Not only is our product range one of the best in the business, we make sure that all other areas of our business measure up. Customer service, technical support, quality products and high otif deliveries are all part of our business model these days.
Life is complicated enough, and our policy of being a straightforward, easy-to-deal-with company is one of the biggest reasons why so many of our customers are so loyal to us and have been with us for many years.

There is no doubt that fabrication has changed a lot since we began. But the changes have made the industry stronger, and those fabricators who have kept pace with the change and are delivering what today’s marketplace needs are now reaping the rewards.

Today’s fabricators need to strive to stay ahead of the moving trends within our industry by offering top quality, innovative products and support. It’s what the team at Universal Trade Frames has been doing for 21 years.