Building on strong foundations

As Hurst Plastics comes to the end of its 20th year, sales director Mark Atkinson talks to Glass Times about recent developments in the business and what lies ahead.

Hurst Plastics 20th year in business has been about celebrating our heritage and gearing up for an exciting future. It’s been a phenomenal two decades and I’m proud to be among 22 people who have been with the business since the very beginning.

Hurst Plastics formed in 1996 and has built on the established pedigree of its parent company, the Hurst Group. Soon, we became the UK’s largest manufacturer of door panels – a title that we still hold today.

Even though panels are a mature and declining product, we have actually increased volumes year on year for the past five years and now manufacture around 2,000 panels a week. Following the recent announcement by Phoenix that it has ceased production of door panels and referred many customers to us, we’re set to increase production rates by around 40% and take on new staff to satisfy demand.

Rather than shrinking, we’re growing and that’s because we continue to invest in developing our panels range to introduce bespoke new styles and colours and we support it with a comprehensive marketing package.

The composite door however is where long-term growth lies. When we began manufacturing composites 10 years ago, they represented approximately 10% of our business. Now, they account for over half of our business and we manufacture more than 400 a week. There is intense competition within the composite door sector but we have maintained growth because of our commitment to continuously provide a high quality product and service package for our customers.

Our ethos is to make the process of buying doors easy and to build trust and loyalty with customers by providing them with the best possible experience. We understand that today’s customer expects the complete package – well-manufactured products, simple pricing, effective marketing support and high levels of service – and we’re committed to ensuring their long-term success.

Strategic investment has been fundamental to Hurst Plastics’ growth and, with the support of the Hurst Group, we’ve made some bold investments. Investment in plant and machinery has helped us to expand the capabilities of our two dedicated factories in Kingston-upon-Hull, while our new fleet of delivery vehicles has enhanced our customer service. Our team is a huge asset and we have invested in recruiting new people who have brought some valuable skills into the business.

Our aim is to attain the very best service levels and we are leading the industry with an otif record of 99.6% on door panels. We attribute this to the fact that we deliver more than 99% of our doors on our own fleet.

One of our most significant developments has been in our IT infrastructure and, next year, we will be upgrading our back office systems to ensure greater efficiencies. We will also enhance our Hurst Live account management system, which now serves more than 1,200 active users.

While it’s important to realise a return on this sizeable investment, we’re conscious that strong foundations will help us and our customers to grow at a sustained pace. We are very much looking to the future and we have some exciting plans for product innovation.
Our 20th year has been quite a milestone year for us and our 21st promises to be just as big.