Prepped for success

It’s almost three years since Distinction Doors took the decision to invest in an advanced door prepping production facility.Distinction Doors’ national sales manager Andy Grogan discusses how the prep service has evolved, whether they are winning enough business to justify the machinery investment costs, and the impact on its warehouse product.

Many Glass Times readers will know that a prepping facility wasn’t always part of the plan.In the early days, a prepped door simply wasn’t a route that we explored.It was only as the composite door market began to take off, and fabricators needed additional support, that we looked into offering the service.

Initially, the doors were predominantly supplied into the social housing sector, but as we started to see the market develop in both retail and new build housing, we found some fabricators didn’t wish to invest in new machinery and asked us to prep for them, so they could still hang the slab in their outer frame and brand in their own name.This was the point when prep numbers started to creep up.

At this time, we would rout, trim, edgeband, paint and glaze blanks, and deliver them ready for hardware and the outer frame.In short, we removed the most costly and demanding part of the process.

Aside from those fabricators not wishing to invest in CNC machines, there were many with ageing machinery who, on reviewing the expense of new equipment and associated running costs, labour, maintenance and waste, opted to buy-in a prepped product rather than reinvest.This presented a real opportunity to take our service up a level.

We made the decision to invest and develop an advanced prepping facility, one which matched orexceeded the quality offered by our customers through their own factories.Customisation has been crucial in delivering this, with our vast range of styles, sizes and colours.

The new facility has been running for some time now and we continue to add to it.We have increased shifts and invested in more equipment, with additional CNC machines, edgebanders and beam saws all fully operational, and further investment is planned.

What started as a relatively low-key service for a handful of customers, represented 40% of our sales by value in 2019.It’s a very substantial part of the business and as more fabricators consider the cost of stockholding, premises, capital investment and overheads, this will continue to grow. In fact, the prep split is already surpassing 40% in 2020.

This demand for change is, in part, driven by the industry, and with Distinction accounting for one-in-four composite doors installed in the UK, we must be proactive and responsive to market demands.We have the people, knowledge and insight to ensure that we understand the market and its fluctuations and revolutions.Our investment in a prepped service facility is proof of this commitment.We now have the volumes that enable us to continually invest and offer an improving service.

And I’m pleased to say that while we are adaptable to change, and these decisions have proven successful, the warehouse side of the business continues to flourish.We are experiencing growth through our warehouse fabricators, both at home and abroad.This is largely due to our ability to manage our stock holding, in line with market trends and demands.Our otif for all services reflects this.

We can’t forget that our product has pedigree. It has been in the market for over 20 years, and is tried and tested.Customers can be confident of a proven, good quality product whether its blank or fully prepped.