Racking up supply chain wins

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell visited Decorative Door Products’ new warehouse in Hawick, and talked to RegaLead’s joint MD Guy Hubble to discover why a small change in order from a regular customer redefined how the company operates.

Decorative Door Products was acquired by RegaLead 10 years ago as part of a strategy to meet the evolving demands of the burgeoning composite door market, namely standard-sized decorative glass units with bespoke designs that would complement RegaLead’s existing imported Signature, triple glazed, decorative glass range.

The bold move proved shrewd as Decorative Door Products provided a level of customisation that wasn’t possible with purely imported product. As the composite door market grew, so did Decorative Door Products, which balanced the huge shipments from China with the individual requirements for made-to-order, bespoke designs from customers.

A far cry from the predominantly resin bevel supplier that Decorative Door Products was back in 2011, manufacturing is now split into six separate areas, for six different decorative techniques: CadRam resin; resin bevels; screen printing; sand blasting; glass fusion; and RegaLead overlay.

“Adapting to changing markets is the key to supporting our customers to help grow their product offering and their business,” RegaLead’s joint managing director Guy Hubble told Glass Times. “When Decorative Door Products came up for sale, we could immediately see the potential for offering door companies a cost-effective solution for more bespoke glass elements on faster lead times – and we’ve never looked back.”

Since Decorative Door Products became a part of RegaLead, the designs of composite doors have continued to evolve, along with the dimensions and specification of their component parts. Recently, one customer approached Guy with the designs for a new glazing cassette – which houses the glass unit – whose dimensions fell outside the standard sizes of imported units.

“The standard thicknesses of our imported units for these glazing cassettes were 24mm (as toughened) and we offer a 25.1mm as laminated, but this new glazing cassette design required units of 26mm,” Guy said. “In theory, those 2mm could have required us to increase our imported product stockholding by 50%, without offering additional benefits to customers.

“As we were working out how best to meet this request, the pandemic happened and the subsequent issues and costs surrounding product imports hit us, like the rest of the market, hard. We had to re-evaluate how we supplied our customers with decorative glass units that would allow for specification changes but maintain a control on cost.”

In effect, those two events forced RegaLead into a decision that would change the way it worked, as well as improving the product range and service to customers.

“We decided to use the insulated glass manufacturing experience and specialist equipment we already had at DDP and bring the final assembly of our decorative glass units into our facility in Hawick,” Guy said. “On the one hand, supply from China had been (and still is, to a certain extent) compromised, while on the ground our customers were moving away from standard dimensions.

“By reducing the level of imported finished product and bringing more of the unit manufacture in house, we could respond more quickly to customers’ needs, while broadening our offering both in terms of specification and unit thickness.

“We still bulk-buy Chinese decorative inserts, but we can now use this decorative element to manufacture the units in multiple different thicknesses and specifications. Alongside the imported inserts we still import a proportion of fully made units for the more standard requirements. However, this way of working gives us greater control over the finished product.”

The imported decorative glass elements are encapsulated between two sheets of glass to create a triple glazed unit for the Signature range either via an all-in-one spacer and sealant system, which Guy believes may be only one of its type operating in the country.

Demand for composite doors went through the roof as the country eased out of lockdown, so a new 12,000ft2 warehouse just across the road from the main Hawick site was fitted with efficient, narrow aisle racking that is accessed by a specially designed forklift. It maximises space and allows Decorative Door Products to stock increased levels of the fast-moving items alongside raw materials for manufacturing units.

The move to Hawick has also streamlined operations, centralised customer service, and brought both sides of the business together, making ordering and delivery of products even easier for customers, Guy said.

“We’re now in a fantastic position to not only meet that increased demand, but to allow our customers to set themselves apart from the competition with a wide range of technology that gives fantastic results,” Guy said.

The composite door market continues to evolve, with new suppliers and new designs regularly finding themselves on the pages of Glass Times. One constant, though, has been the importance of the glass unit, and RegaLead has succeeded in offering a standard – yet infinitely customisable – product that has sidestepped the current supply chain woes.