Is the writing on the wall?

This month Bohle hands over its monthly column to Aaron Dewhurst from The Glass Wipe Board Company, who argues that the glass processing sector ignores sustainability at its peril.

We started the Glass Wipe Board Company in 2010. We’d previously been working in commercial fit-out but with 2008 and the downturn, margins had become so eroded that we decided we needed a shift in direction and we formed the business.

There wasn’t really anyone out there doing it. When we were working in office fit-out we’d seen blue chips spending a fortune on office design and refurbishment, and then they were fitting these cheap looking whiteboards and we saw an opportunity.

In itself, the Glass Wipe Board isn’t a complicated product. We use back-painted glass, combine it with a range of fixings, including hidden and magnetic fixings and that’s it. It sounds straightforward but to turn that product into a successful and growing business has been a real journey.

Getting the manufacture right, and to deliver the quality and the performance we wanted, was key and Bohle has played its part in that since we buy-in our adhesive and hardware from it. But it’s also been about getting the customer proposition right and the service right.

We deal with clients including the BBC, Amazon and Google, and they have expectations of service and quality and meeting it is really what we have built our business on. It’s not about just turning out products but the bells and whistles that go with them.

This has meant the development of our offer to include a wider range of finishes, including branded options. We deliver direct to site, making it easy for people to do business with us. We’ve also invested a huge amount in our marketing, including the development of our brand and particularly SEO.

It’s been a very long and complicated journey to get it right but we’re now seeing good growth.

There’s an expectation among blue chips on their suppliers. Our supply chain is UK based and we promote that through our membership of the Made in Britain campaign. It’s not just about the product – the positioning of it and your wider business and service offer is key.
We have also found that you need to be able to demonstrate what you’re doing as a supplier to minimise the impact of your business on the environment.

We’re currently working to collate information on the CO2 we generate and to minimise it as well as recover and recycle waste material. It’s no good simply having a product – you have to be able to back it up with your brand and, increasingly in our experience, you need to have that environmental story sitting behind it. We also support Prostate Cancer UK.

For us it’s been key. We’re doing the right thing but in doing it it’s allowed us to access markets and to safeguard those markets from competitors. They may be able to produce a similar product but they can’t back that up with quality or the service that we can and are excluded from contracts because they can’t meet the criteria that its being set out.

For us it’s very much where we see the glass processing sector going. You need to deliver the quality and service but also to demonstrate how you support your customers’ own proposition and the values that they have committed to.

Working in the commercial office sector and with blue-chip businesses, being able to demonstrate that you have a responsible approach to supply, that you’re doing your bit to reduce your impact on the environment or to source product from responsible suppliers, is really important.