As Double R Glass & Roofing Systems celebrates 20 years in business, managing director Ian Sims talks to Glass Times about the changes the company has undergone and what’s still to come for the organisation and its customers.
We’re celebrating 20 years in business this year and the landscape of our operation today is completely different compared with two decades ago; things have been up and down along the way, but we are proud to have weathered the tough times through a consistent focus on our customers and a continuous investment in our offering.
The market, the products we manufacture, and the business itself have all changed considerably over the years. This might sound like an obvious thing to say, but when things develop gradually, we sometimes take for granted the significance of the changes we’ve undergone.
Take the insulated glass unit for example. Sealed units have become commodity products in more recent years with less consideration being given to who has made them or how they’ve been made. And yet, the technology that exists within our units today, and the way they’re now manufactured, is a world away from where it once was.
We now have a vast array of glass options, argon gas filling, and warm edge technology, all of which have contributed to the ever-increasing thermal efficiency of the unit. Legislation and market demand have continued to drive the specification of the humble sealed unit forward to improve the overall performance of our windows today.
The methods of IGU manufacture have changed significantly over the years too. When we first started using Edgetech’s Super Spacer warm edge technology for example, we applied it manually, but in 2015 we invested in the fastest vertical super spacer, hot melt IGU line in the world, the first of its kind. This For.El line featured two super spacer applicators, a new gas press, which allowed two units to be pressed and gassed at the same time, and a double headed hot melt sealing system. It completely changed the way our factory operated and the whole organisation had to adapt, but we invested the time and resources to do it properly and we were soon in a fantastic position to supply high specification units in volume.
The other side of our business, conservatory roof fabrication, hasn’t escaped significant change either. When we started making roofs, we were making the standard lean-to, Edwardian or Victorian style roofs with glass or polycarbonate panels. We would make a few that were more unique in their specification, but on the whole people wanted standard conservatories.
Things have moved on and solid roofs have seen a steady rise in demand on new conservatories, as well as replacing existing conservatory roofs. We ensured our customers were in a good position to take advantage of this new market by being the first UK conservatory roof kit fabricator to start using the Guardian Warm Roof solid roof system in 2011.
We’ve also implemented significant changes to our infrastructure in the last 20 years. We started out in a 1,500ft2 factory and today our IGU facility, decorative glass division and conservatory fabrication unit span 32,000ft2. We pride ourselves on taking a pioneering approach to ensure we do our bit to keep our fabricator and installer customers ahead of the competition.
We have continuously invested in the business to ensure we’re always improving and have added a team of new employees at the start of this year to further boost our production team. We’re also in the process of building a dedicated new facility for our conservatory unit and our team of decorative glass experts.
While products, people, logistics and the wider market context have all changed over the years, one thing that has remained the same is our customer-focused approach; we genuinely want to work with our customers to deliver what they need and if there is ever a problem, we work hard to solve it fast.
We have found this approach has become particularly prevalent in the current more unstable climate. People are becoming more and more wary about who they buy their products from. They want suppliers that are quality conscious and can offer consistent supply and reliable support. Double R has always been able to provide this, and we look forward to continuing to work with like-minded suppliers and customers through 2020 with all the challenges and opportunities it brings, and beyond.