How to be first-class

Writing ahead of the G17 Awards, Global Glass managing director Derren Gittins explains why the IGU manufacturer is positive against tough competition in the Glass Company of the Year category.

The market is being painted as a gloomy place by many in the industry with sales down by as much as 20% due to market conditions and economic uncertainty. Vying for Glass Company of the Year against this backdrop, you have to go into the competition with confidence and the figures to prove you’re doing what no other glass supplier is doing right now – continuing to grow while your competitors are in decline, with a forward-thinking, stand-out approach to customer service.

As I ambitiously write this ahead of the G Awards, I know this year’s competition is as tough as ever; I’ve never seen such a diverse list of finalists, from fire glass experts to us – the largest UK owned IGU manufacturer.

Whether we have taken the trophy home or not when this goes to print, we are proud to be the only truly nationwide IGU supplier on the list, with plants in the north, Midlands and south.

We have seen a staggering increase in our weekly output in the last six months from 28,000 to 40,000 – well on our way to our capacity of 50,000 IGUs per week. This is thanks to our expert members of staff, including more than 60 new operators, administration staff, engineers and salespeople.

It’s also thanks to our loyal customer base, and the £10m investment we’ve made in growing Global Glass over the past six years. We have grown the business to a £40m turnover – around 25% of Synseal Group’s annual revenue. We’ve also welcomed a number of the UK’s largest IGU customers this year, each impressed by our track record, ambitions and supply chain consistency.

While we have the ambition and drive to make Global Glass a household name, we recognise that our customers’ needs come first; we are not just suppliers, we provide a service to our 360+ customers, and when IGU manufacturers fight to the penny for the lowest prices, it’s quality of service which sets us apart from our competitors.

With seven fully automated sealed unit lines at four strategically located plants, we can respond to regional and national demands while providing customers with a tailored service that many suppliers can’t match. We also provide a bespoke labelling system for our largest customers, giving them control over their supply chain and helping them to create a strong and reliable brand identity incorporating our quality glass products.

We’ve also made huge strides in cutting out waste – both in materials and in time. We cut glass to specification, keeping waste to a minimum, and we’ve invested in an improved barcoding system with iconographic labels, making it quicker for customers to group their items into particular jobs.

These small but significant advances stem from a challenging training programme run by our continuous improvement team, which teaches the LEAN manufacturing methods well-established in the automotive industry, so they can confidently carry out root cause analysis to identify problem causes and solve these effectively. In our Wigan plant, where we inherited a reputation of poor quality, we have reduced escaping defects down to just 0.6% and it has been the best performing of our glass plants this last quarter – a true testament to the commitment of our Wigan-based staff.

Our attitude is to be a first-class manufacturer, combining the ambitions to be first choice for our customers, the employer of choice for glass professionals, with profits that are reinvested to drive future growth.

Any one of the five companies competing for Glass Company of the Year will be a worthy winner. For us, being a Glass Company of the Year finalist is just one step in the right direction towards achieving our goal of becoming a world class manufacturer.