Smoothly does it

Apeer’s managing director Asa McGillian talks to Glass Times about the importance of offering a diverse product range, and discusses the introduction of Silka, which is proving to be an exciting alternative to aluminium.

It wasn’t that long ago that manufacturers and fabricators could get away with a relatively straightforward selection of composites – and some still do – but the door market is hugely competitive now.

If you’re in the position where your customer has to look elsewhere for a fire door, or for something that’s more upmarket and contemporary, then you’re running the risk they might not return.

At Apeer, we identified the need to stay ahead of the market some time ago, not just with our product range, which we are continually developing and evolving, but with a commitment to consistent high quality and service.

Installers don’t want to waste time dealing with multiple suppliers when they can get everything they need from a single source who they can trust to deliver. With our established range of composites, our bi-laterally tested FD30 Isolate fire doors – which were some of the first fire doors to go back on the market after the industry moratorium post Grenfell – the award-winning Lumi and Lumi2 systems and now Silka, we really are offering a one-stop solution.

We began to notice an increase in popularity for high-end aluminium products, and an emerging trend for hybrid PVCU/aluminium, a best of both worlds combination of energy efficiency and aesthetics. It was this that prompted us to move in this direction with our own product developments.

We had a team dedicated to the R&D of Silka for over a year, during which time we developed a new, smooth fibreglass skin and a unique paint finish that means the doors are air dried, rather than processed in our usual infrared lines. All this involved a lot of work, including several trips to the mould manufacturer to ensure we got the end product just right.

We were overwhelmed by the positive response at the 2019 FIT Show and feedback has directly contributed to the final Silka product that we now sell, which is proving to be hugely popular.

The flat surface finish and aesthetic appeal of Silka works really well with Lumi products, and it does share the same frameless glass design detail that has become such a hit.

However, Silka was originally intended to be a stand-alone product. With that in mind, the fact that it complements Lumi, (including Lumi2 of course, which is perfect for the retrofit market) only adds to its appeal.

Silka has a smooth, matt finish that is practically indistinguishable from the aluminium alternative and is combined with all the benefits of a double rebate, triple glazed 70mm composite – just at a more competitive price point than its aluminium counterparts.

We can offer more colour options than any other composite smooth skin doors on the market. Plus, the steel trimmed and Lumi style frameless glazing options are unique to Apeer.

We already have plans to extend the colour range to include all RAL colours by early 2020, and we also hope to introduce a bespoke glazing option that will cater for requests for custom glass designs.

A varied product offering is vital in the composite door sector and so far the response we’ve had to Silka has been incredible, both from new customers and existing ones – including those who appreciate the fact we have listened to their feedback, and given them an outstanding door that is helping them to win sales and stay ahead of the competition.