Independence day celebrated

Advance Building Plastics, an Emplas customer since the July 4, 2017, is a trade counter with a very different approach to retail, according to owner Andrew Buchanan.

Trade counters: utilitarian, practical, coffee-out-of-a-machine-and-not-necessarily-always-good, with decoration and ambience generally less of a priority than product offer, but service and reliability of supply at trade prices.

Advance Building Plastics in Hereford, on the other hand, is different. The coffee still leaves a little bit to be desired, but the positioning of product is equal to the very best of retail showrooms and that’s no accident.

It’s a great sales tool when customers can touch and feel the door or the window – they’re sold straight away.

The difference is that while exclusively a trade counter, the ‘customers’ aren’t exclusively jobbing builders and fitters but homeowners; the showroom is used by our trade customers as their showroom.

They can come into the trade counter side and pick up a fascia, silicone, their windows, whatever they want but they can also refer their customers to us so that they can come in and see and touch the product they’re buying.

We also know the products inside out, and can offer a little bit of advice and help the sale along .

Part of the Advance Joinery Group, which also includes Advance Joinery and Advance Window Solutions, Advance Building Plastics was set up in November 2016.

We started in timber joinery more than 25 years ago. Advance Joinery makes everything from timber-framed buildings to windows and kitchens – everything is bespoke.

Around 10 years ago we hit a point where we couldn’t grow that business without significant investment and, at that time, we didn’t want to go down that route, so we looked around for something else and started supplying and fitting PVCU windows and doors, mainly to housebuilders.

We wanted to bring our work and ‘worth’ ethic to window and door supply. We felt the quality wasn’t there and we could do a lot better.

That got us into PVCU and then we saw the opportunity to open up into building plastics, bringing that same approach and focus on quality and service to trade supply.

To side step a potential commercial conflict with our own trade customers, Advance Window Solutions works solely in the new build and specification sectors, our clients include Persimmon, Crest Homes, Bloor Homes and Hereford Housing.

Because of what we do we don’t bump into our trade customers but can lever our buying power to support them.

Our trade counter supplies both aluminium and PVCU products, buying in an extensive range of PVCU windows from Emplas.

We didn’t want to get into manufacture. We fabricate in timber, it’s too complicated, it swallows up too much time and money.

We’ve always bought Profile 22. Setting up the trade counter we needed a really reliable supplier who would deliver on quality and service and support us. We placed our first order from Emplas on July 4, 2017 and they have been consistent – they say something and they do it.

This has included support for our showroom, supplying windows at no cost – the full Optima range, including flush sash with deep bottom rail and standard options.

The flush sash gets a lot of interest now. People like the detailing and in particular the flush sash with deep bottom rail. It’s a very strong heritage finish.

Ninety percent of our guys are working out of a van, so at best they’re going have a few brochures and maybe a corner sample.

The value of being able to either come in here with a customer or send them in is massive. They book an appointment, the customer sees agate grey or a woodgrain or an obscure glass first hand, and it does the job for them.

Emplas announced the expansion of its ex-stock colour range at the end of last year.  Cutting lead times and reducing costs, its new offer supports installers in tapping into growing end-user demand for premium foiled finishes.

It means that foiled cream, anthracite grey, anthracite grey on white, black brown, and black brown on white are now available as ex-stock standard colours. Sitting alongside existing ex-stock foil colours including white, golden oak and rosewood, Emplas’s most popular foils are now available in lead times of 10 days or less.

We’re seeing demand grow across the board. Agate grey, in particular, is the new anthracite.

What we have here is proven. We can add so much value to trade customers by giving them the right products, underpinning that with a high level of service and helping them to sell by giving them access to what is ultimately their showroom.