In these troubled times, choose your friends carefully

Quickslide’s Adrian Barraclough says that mutual survival and prosperity will depend upon very traditional strengths and attributes, as the Aperture failure demonstrates.

Security marks, including PAS24 and Secured by Design, are the usual security standards invoked whenever windows and doors are being discussed. But as the coronavirus invades not just our bodies but the very essence of our day-to-day lives, there are far more reaching issues to be considered when buying windows and doors and other fenestration-related products.

And not least of these is the overall security of your key suppliers.

As I write, just a few days ago we learned of the demise of Aperture Trading, a company formed out of the ashes of what was better known as Synseal. This was a sad end to a once great company and our sympathies go out to their employees, many of who we had come to know well in the years that we worked with them as both supply partners and customers. Many had been with the company for years and showed great loyalty until the very end.

Rather than reflect on the failure, I believe that we may learn much by reflecting on the qualities by which Synseal was built into what was a most impressive and successful company; one of those rare entities that disrupted the industry in which it operated.

In the hands of Gary Dutton – a man known to not take hostages – and his indomitable team, Synseal quite literally changed the face of the UK window and door industry. After dramatically undercutting every other profile systems extruder to create a significant customer base that was little interested in the niceties of ‘customer support’, Synseal then set about taking their brand upmarket to compete for the business of fabricators and installers that demanded more than pile-em-high-sell-em-cheap. And just as the budget airlines succeeded so well in doing, not only did it create a whole new market based upon a frill-free, cheap-as-chips offer, it then set about taking business from the ‘BA’ brands of the PVCU systems sector.

Synseal disrupted the market not simply by undercutting everyone, although initially this was a significant factor. But over time the company grew and took a significant share of the UK window and door business for itself by showing a number of admirable qualities. And the point of this reflection on what made Synseal great, is that many of its core qualities will be found in most successful small to medium sized companies, including Quickslide.

For any business to survive (let alone prosper) in normal trading conditions these qualities include good cash reserves, sound financial control, continuous investment, innovative and imaginative thinking, a dynamic, structured management, a dedicated workforce from the cleaners to the senior managers, and shareholders who care passionately about and who are involved with the business on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, an excellent suite of products is also essential, a key to competitiveness in such competitive markets. Synseal showed all of these in spades, with the X Factor being the somewhat indefinable elements brought to the firm by its owners.

The security and continuity of every one of us will be severely tested by the current crisis. And the strengths and qualities that were so admirably demonstrated by, and which contributed to the success of Synseal originally, will also be at the heart of companies that survive these severe tests during the next few months.

I believe passionately in those strengths and qualities and they remain at the core of everything that we do at Quickslide. And we will continue to seek partnerships with companies – suppliers and customers – that also share those attributes because they are the qualities that will not only help to sustain each of us in the short term, they will also enable us to flourish when things return to normal, as they certainly will.

Quickslide Ltd
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