Getting back to work

Selecta Systems’ sales director Andy Green talks about how Selecta has dealt with the recent lockdown, getting back to work, and the opportunities ahead.

Selecta began the year with enthusiasm and excitement, having converted 46 fabricators of all sizes in 2019 and a further 12 switching to the Advance 70 System in the first three months of this year.

January saw Selecta 25% up on the previous year, with February returning similar figures and March looking impressive too. We were looking forward with great optimism and there was a buoyant and confident mood among the team as we looked to improve on what was an already excellent 2019.

In February, I was in Tenerife as the coronavirus outbreak hit a hotel not too far away from where I was staying, and I saw the panic and hysteria first-hand during the return flight back to the UK. No one could truly envisage the devastation and true effect of coronavirus as it started to spread across the world.

Selecta had already commenced introducing a series of workplace precautions and initiatives to protect staff and customers prior to the government’s announcement at the end of March to go into lockdown.

As of March 26, there was an eerie silence at our Birmingham extrusion and distribution centre as machines were turned off, our fleet of lorries parked up, and staff sent home as we closed all operations for what would be an initial three weeks. It was at this point that a lot of people heard the word furlough for the first time, and it gave businesses an opportunity to temporarily shut down and secure their immediate future and the employment of staff. Our whole industry seemed to come together, temporarily closing down and coming to a standstill in just a matter of days.

In turned out that we were to shut down for a total of six weeks before the government announced a new set of guidelines to encourage businesses within our industry to open safely. We re-opened our doors on Monday May 11, initially with skeleton staff, as we prepared to introduce a series of workplace precautions and hygiene controls to allow further staff to return with a phased programme to full capacity. Upon our return, the response from customers was immense as we began with a record volume of orders as the team worked tirelessly together to meet customers’ demands.

I would like to thank every customer for their co-operation, understanding and patience during what has been a difficult time for everyone.

Our business structure has certainly allowed us to be far more flexible and accommodating, being able to go above and beyond where required and provide service and support which may not have been achievable by other window and door profile system suppliers. This, I believe, is what always sets us apart from the competition and forms a huge part of the business ethos.

Since re-opening we have had a phenomenal response from a host of fabricators wishing to switch their profile system to our Advance 70 Window and Door System, with no less than a dozen fabricators currently in the process of being converted. It certainly bodes well for the immediate future and continues to demonstrate the strong appeal of working with an experienced and renowned UK-based and family-owned systems company.

What we have witnessed during the lockdown is a home and garden improvement boom, with families busy improving their properties. You have only got to see the huge queues at DIY stores and refuse centres, combined with the difficulty of getting materials delivered, to comprehend the surge in home and garden improvements. If you’ve tried to get hold of some grey fence paint or some plaster, then you’ll know where I’m coming from.

I’ve also observed an increase in garden room, summer house and ‘man cave’ builds during the lockdown, with some waiting lists as long as two to three months. Also, with working from home increasing and the possibility of this becoming the norm for some, converting garden rooms into offices has provided escapism and solitude for folk getting away from their everyday family home.

We have fabricators who supply this market and they have been inundated with work during this period. This has also presented new fabrication, supply, build and installation opportunities and an option for businesses to expand and diversify, with PVCU windows and doors being used more frequently within these builds.

Our Vantage Holiday Home System and Advance 70 System are capable of being installed into these structures, suitable for wall thicknesses between 38mm and 100mm. There is an array of PVCU window and door options available that provide consumers with the reassurance of added security and warmth to their garden builds as they take pride and enjoyment from their projects.

With holidays being cancelled, coupled with the closure of a large amount of retail stores and hospitality venues, this seems to have freed up those extra funds that consumers are using to finance their home and garden improvements. There continues to be opportunities out there if we actively seek them; it’s certainly not a time for burying our heads in the sand.

The global pandemic and lockdown is something that a majority of us have never experienced in our lifetime, and for some there will be challenges ahead. We all need to build partnerships to tackle these challenges and be proactive and practical in our approach.

There have already been casualties in our industry with rumours of more on the horizon. That’s why during these times of uncertainty you need trustworthiness, dependability and assurance from your window and door system and systems supplier; one that can provide long-term security, by helping you and your business and offering a complete, flexible and personal service and support package. We’re ready when you are.