A new glazing industry body

Jon Vanstone, chair of the new Certass Trade Association, explains why the membership body has been created and what its goal is for improving the entire glazing industry.

It’s time for our industry to focus on installers – they are the vital connection between the big glazing industry corporations and homeowners, so we need to find ways to support them and help them to grow.

The numbers are on their side, there are more than 13,000 companies who install windows and doors in the UK. That’s a lot of voices that need to be heard, to create an industry that works for everyone in the supply chain, not just the businesses whose turnover is £millions every year.

Certass Trade Association already has more than 3,000 members, so it’s already the largest glazing trade association, and it has been established to give all installers a platform in the industry where they can voice their concerns. Creating a trade body also gives us the opportunity to offer clear, unbiased advice that installers can’t get from other companies, whose information and guidance is driven by their own commercial agenda.

We have an ageing workforce who had the privilege of real, practical apprenticeships and training when they started out in the industry. Their skills have developed as new product innovations like bifold doors and solid conservatory roofs have taken over the market.

They are now on their way to enjoying retirement.

There is a lack of young people joining the industry, because the glazing industry’s reputation isn’t strong enough to draw in young talent. There are limited training options and support for installers taking on apprentices and no-one is at the grass-roots level educating the next generation about the opportunities that await them.

We know that there is a good living to be made from installing windows and doors, but do they? Unfortunately, a construction-based career carries an unfair stigma of being for those who are academically not so gifted. Our industry’s installers are skilled tradesman and we need to ensure that this is accurately represented.

On top of this, we have an ever-changing market place, lower consumer spending because of Brexit uncertainty, and the stigma of 1980s and 90s double glazing salesmen still lurking in the back of homeowners’ minds. However, installers do wish to stay competitive, delivering the latest product innovations to their customers, while offering a quality service.

Part of our pledge is to make installers, fabricators and manufacturers aware of what is on the horizon in terms of government policy and legislation, and give practical advice on what to do about it.

As chair of the Trade Association Forum (TAF), the largest trade association collective in the UK, and chair of the Competent Persons Forum (CPF), I have a unique position in the market. I’ve also been involved with TrustMark for the last three years so I’m well-versed with Each Home Counts.

What this means for Certass TA members is that they will get access to information earlier, giving them more time to prepare and we can lobby for the change that they want from the position of proper industry representation.

We will be developing practical support to bring on the next generation of tradespeople. Our aim is to help grow a skilled, diverse workforce to drive professionalism in our industry and attract new talent looking for a career that delivers innovation and best practice service to the UK housing market.

Our primary focus will always be on benefiting our members and helping them to grow. We don’t want to be another trade organisation that has great ideas that never get put into practice because of internal politics and concerns about protecting the interests of the chosen few.

To create this support for installers, Certass TA would like to collaborate with systems suppliers, fabricators, component suppliers, certification schemes and training providers that share our passion for improving the industry and, like us, believe that installers will play a key part in driving this change.

Now is the time to champion local installers and give them the platform to make their views heard, and that’s what Certass TA will do.