Independent with innovation and investment

Jason McCabe, commercial and site manager for Clayton Glass, highlights the importance of being an independent, owner-managed business; investment and product innovation are key, he explains.

Clayton Glass has a history that dates back 50 years and today we’re well placed as one of the UK’s largest independent glass processors and have been listed within the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain report.

While our flagship Smartglass roof brand generates considerable interest in the media and through sales traction, we are first and foremost a large scale IGU manufacturer.

We can boast a number of well-respected national brands in the consumer and trade sectors within our customer network for IGUs, with our capacity to manufacture 18,000 units every week, with our renowned operational efficiencies and delivery prowess.

Our culture is very much based on building partnerships for the long term with our customers, something that we believe is best managed as an independent.

Over the last three years we’ve invested £4 million across the group, not only to support ongoing growth but to ensure the optimal level of product quality, and to ensure that we are not stretching our capital equipment to within a whisker of failure risk.

As an owner-managed business, we can adapt more quickly to market demands than our peers, without the corporate shackles of a larger group, yet benefitting from the buying power of the National Glass Group. We have also been able to invest time and resources in developing the UK’s best conservatory and lantern roof glass under the Smartglass brand and supply the vast majority of the leading brands in the sector.

We’ve pushed the technical boundaries in roof glass with Smartglass Ultra 86, which reflects 86% of the sun’s rays and is at present the best performing product of its type. Smartglass-W has been a development of a range of glass for conservatory and glazed extension walls, where there is a need to reduce solar heat gain, which is prevalent in most standard IGUs that fall under the remit of the Window Energy Ratings scheme.

It’s also a glass perfectly suited for large span patio and bifolding doors, and we expect sales of this type of product to increase in the coming years, as the industry begins to realise that glass within extension environments, or in big doors, needs specific characteristics. This is no different to the conservatory sector scenario nearly 20 years ago. Our thirst for leading the market has also spurned the launch of the first ever self-tinting technology in the form of Smartglass Dynamic.

The launch of Smartglass Dynamic has been enabled thanks to being an independent manufacturer with a global reach for new glass technologies, and with a thirst for being first to market with future developments. This is the sector’s first automatically self-tinting, glass technology for conservatories, orangeries and other glazing elements.

This also represents the dawn of a new era of dynamic conservatory and glazed extension living, adapting product performance every minute of the day and night. It also ticks all the boxes for the trade with availability within 10-14 days, can be manufactured in any shape, and can be handled in the same way as any other roofing glass.

There’s also a degree of entrepreneurship that underpins what we do, rather than being lost within the confines of a large group. This culture and a partnership approach to business will enable Clayton Glass and our respective brands to flourish in the future and bring to market other ground-breaking technologies, while serving our customers with the cornerstone of our business in the form of more standardised IGUs.