And now for something completely different

We catch up with Pioneer Trading’s MD, Danny Williams, who explains more about how the new Gerda range has raised the bar for entrance doors.

During the early ‘noughties a fear of market saturation was settling over the ‘double-glazing’ industry.

The majority of UK homes that could be fitted with replacement windows, had been and the outlook looked gloomy; the expression ‘replacing the replacements’ was coined though without any real belief that people would actually upgrade in any meaningful volumes; window sales, were surely about to fall off a cliff.

It may have faded from the memories of the more seasoned of the industry’s operators and a whole generation will have no inkling of it at all, but as the Millennium tripped over the industry was in serious danger of disappearing up its own 28mm cavity.

The fear of saturation was very real indeed, with getting on for 90% of all existing homes in the private sector having been fitted with double glazed, replacement windows. That a great deal of it was first generation aluminium or PVC-U was irrelevant it seemed: ‘we are all doomed’ was the collective cry.

Of course, ‘double glazing Armageddon’ did not happen and over the following decade the window and door industry did what it always does: got off its backside and reinvented itself, with the very first FIT Show providing a fitting (sorry) backdrop for an industry that had put some lippy on, bought a new frock and added some exciting new accessories too.

Crucially, niches – and some pretty decent sized niches too – gained traction as it was recognised that the days of 10 (cheap) windows and a free front door were over. Quality, style, performance delivered through a raft of exciting new products, enabled the industry to realise that actually, the Great British Homeowner was capable of plunging their hand deeply into their pockets when presented with something that looked stylish, performed better and was more than something that filled holes in a house.

Affordable replacement vertical sliders became a serious proposition, and flush sash windows got homeowners all hot and bothered whilst bi-folding doors…whoa! And…the once humble composite door shrugged off its social housing roots and became a desirable home improvement in its own right.

Move up to 2023 and so far have we come, that composite front doors are now facing another problem – product differentiation: there are literally dozens of brands each apparently supplying something very, very similar.

Three years ago Danny Williams, who as the managing director of Essex-based fabricator and installer Pioneer Trading has now been making and fitting windows and doors for more than 35 years, found himself faced with this quandary: not only were all composite residential doors looking the same, the quality of support that he received from the key suppliers in the sector was poor.

He decided to look around for something different and believes that he has found it in steel. Steel and aluminium-faced doors manufactured by veteran manufacturer Gerda, to be more precise: “Our search for a residential door that provided genuine and tangible differentials began in 2019, for something that I could offer to the market generally and not just our installer customers.

“Gerda is different in the most basic way – there are few if any other steel faced resi doors available in the UK home improvement market, and the choice of aluminium faced doors is limited, especially affordable examples,” explains Danny, “and the specification is impressive. Thermal performance is developed for Eastern European winters and both the steel and aluminium doors offer thermal transmittance as low as 0.74 W/m2K for solid doors and 0.81 W/m2K for glazed versions.”

The class leading Altus door being offered by Pioneer in the UK boasts an 88mm depth, three chamber reinforced aluminium internal construction with PU cores, with Fuhr multi point security lock and hardware located into reinforced aluminium outer frames. Such features are typical across the range.

“We will be ready for volume sales from this month,” continues Danny. “And service is a key issue too: every one of our distribution partners has committed to offering the highest service levels. Now installers can offer something that really stands out in a very crowded and confusing market.”

Gerda launched at the FIT Show in May 2022 and will be on show again this year: “The interest at last year’s FIT Show was extraordinary and proved that the industry wants something different. They will have another chance again in May,” concludes Danny.