High quality, high margin

Kevin Cox, director of Ramsgate Glass, explains how the company took advantage of increasing demand for high-end home improvements through its investment in glass processing and a 35-year working relationship with Bohle.

We’ve noticed a big uplift in demand over the last 18 months, which is a direct result of Covid and lockdown.

People who would have normally enjoyed a foreign holiday have not been able to do so, and they’ve used the money to improve their homes instead.

That’s included refurbishing old bathrooms to include more stylish, frameless showers, and upgrading kitchens with glass splashbacks. We’ve also seen a big increase in demand for balustrades – for balconies and for staircases.

Our turnover has increased by around 25%, and we’re confident that we’re going to maintain a similar output for another 12 months at least.

My father established Ramsgate Glass in 1965, and has expanded significantly over the years. I now run the business with my brothers Anthony and Philip, and today the company has a glass processing factory that includes a showroom, offices, trade and retail counter, as well as an additional retail premises located in Dover.

While we still operate a small PVC window installation service, as well as bespoke stained glass and secondary glazing, Ramsgate Glass’s main focus is now on the supply of high-quality, high-margin glass products.

Window installation can be a cutthroat business, one that’s driven by price, and that was certainly a contributing factor in our decision to invest in our processing capacity so that we could concentrate our efforts into the glass sector.

We have been a Bohle customer for over 35 years, and we have been using Bohle machinery since 2001. Our factory now includes an eight-spindle straight line edger, a glass washer, a belt machine, and Profi-drill, but our most recent investment was a new Sedimentor. We’ve noticed a big difference in the quality of the glass we’re processing since we’ve had it installed.

Our ability to process glass in-house has really enabled us to make the most of the home improvement boom and it’s opened up big opportunities in the commercial market. But our biggest challenge now is in getting hold of enough stock.

Glass supply has affected everyone, we know that we’re in the same boat, but even sourcing from three different suppliers is proving to be problematic. Prices have increased – as much as 50% on oversized laminates – so it’s important that we operate as efficiently as possible.

Working with Bohle, we can do just that. We see sales director Paul Miller at least once or twice a month, and the level of support we have is invaluable, as is the quality of Bohle’s products. At the premium end of the home improvement market, cheap product is a false economy. We’ve tried using inferior clamps for balustrades in the past and they’ve failed before we’ve even finished the installation.

Bohle’s MasterTrack ST shower and VetroMount balustrade systems on the other hand are extremely well designed, the quality is faultless. We can trust them to perform.

Looking ahead, there’s no sign of demand slowing down. There’s still going to be a limit on the amount of people taking holidays overseas even in 2022; it’s going to be a similar situation to the one we have now.

But with the investment we have made in our glass processing facility and with the product and experience we have at our disposal, we’re in a strong position to make the most of it.