Making the switch to aluminium
As a PVC fabricator that was previously losing out on demand for aluminium, Vale Window Group is now reaping the benefits of bringing manufacture in house with the Decalu system from Deceuninck Aluminium. General manager Andy Lomax explains.
We’ve traditionally focused purely on PVCU manufacturer. In the past, if we had an enquiry for aluminium from one of our customers, we would be able to service them, but we had to buy it in. There was no margin in it for us but we wanted to keep our customers happy – we didn’t want to lose them to our competition.
For low volumes of orders, this system worked well enough; we didn’t have to worry about making it ourselves or making a financial commitment to machinery or additional staff on the shop floor.
The problem was, demand for aluminium kept rising, especially for bifolds. It got to the point where it became evident that the only logical solution was to bring aluminium production in-house, to better service our customers, and to put us in a position where we could build margin on the aluminium that we were selling.
We started manufacturing in the summer of 2020, as a launch partner for the Decalu system from Deceuninck Aluminium – and we haven’t looked back.
Established in 1996, we have been a leading manufacturer of Deceuninck’s PVC range for the last 12 years. Operating across two sites, the decision to introduce aluminium into our portfolio involved re-locating our entire PVC operation to the original Mansfield facility, in order to create a dedicated home for Decalu production at our 12,000ft2 Stockport factory.
Launched at the start of 2020, the Decalu range includes the Decalu88 bifold, a contemporary, highly energy efficient door that offers U-values as low as 0.68W/m2k. Capable of accommodating large, 200kg sashes it can be manufactured to 3m in height while still delivering an ultra-smooth operation thanks to exceptionally high quality hardware.
Decalu also features the 163 lift-and-slide door, which can go larger still with sashes of 3,900mm x 3,500mm and up to 400kg in weight, as well as the Decalu88 Residential Door and a range of market leading window systems.
These include a comprehensive range of heritage, aluminium casement, tilt-and-turn and fully reversible options, plus the ultra-energy efficient Decalu101 Scand which offers U-values as low as 0.89W/m2k.
We’ve enjoyed a flying start to aluminium production, and that’s due to a combination of the outstanding support we had from Deceuninck, but also because of the quality of the Decalu system itself.
From a manufacturing point of view, it’s a very easy system to fabricate. It’s modular, which means there are fewer components– just three compared to as much as eight in some other aluminium systems – and it features a co-extruded, pre-assembled gasket. That simplifies things for us, but also our customers. They are saving huge amounts of time on site because glazing is so straightforward.
In the past, most fitters would have put a whole day aside to fit one bifold. But with the Decalu88, which also features two 7mm adjustable jams to make it even easier to fit into apertures that aren’t square, our customers tell us they are able to fit two, or three at a push. That’s going to make a huge difference to their bottom line at the end of the month.
We’ve had a lot of repeat business because of this, but we’ve also had installers actively asking for it. Installers are recommending it to each other, and that’s creating additional pull-through demand for us.
We’ve even had customers who have been so impressed with Decalu, they’ve come back to order PVC off us.
Available in dual colour, marine grade and textured finishes as standard, Decalu is also available in 16 colour-matched options across Deceuninck’s aluminium and PVC systems.
For Vale, as an established Deceuninck fabricator, this presents clear advantages for customers to sell a combination of materials to homeowners, typically with an aluminium bifold or entrance door, and PVC windows, with a perfectly matched finish.
We spent a considerable amount of time researching a number of systems, and we looked at various manufacturing facilities. Ultimately, we chose Decalu purely on merit, not because of our previous experience of Deceuninck PVC, as good as that is. We wanted it because of the strength of its features. We took it on, because we knew it was going to sell. Would we have bought into Decalu if it was the product of another system house? Absolutely, 100% we would.
We have gone all in with aluminium, but thanks to Decalu we are not regretting the decision. We are more profitable and we are now in a much better position to take full advantage of demand going forward.