Steady flow of business

As Ikon launched its new louvre, Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell visited managing director John Park-Davies to learn about the company’s 10 years in business, as well as its plans for growth.

Birmingham almost has a mythical attachment to aluminium as a building material, so it was no surprise that it is on the outskirts of this city, in Shard End, that Glass Times met the managing director of Ikon Aluminium Systems John Park-Davies to discuss the company’s first decade in business.

Founded in January 2008, Ikon began life as a systems house before developing into a multi-faceted manufacturer of aluminium building products, servicing the fenestration and facades sector. Today, Ikon owns more than 180 UK-based dies, and extrudes profile exclusively for curtain walling, doors, windows, solar shading, louvre and ventilation systems.

The company also sits next door to sister company Vertik-al, a powder coating company with which it shares many synergies; for example, suppliers to Ikon often get products powder coated at Vertik-al. “There’s a lot of interaction between the businesses,” John said.

It is a market in which competitors stand out (and win repeat business) on factors such as service, which is why the relationship with Vertik-al matters, as does its aim to turn around orders within a week.

Therefore, Ikon stocks over £350K-worth of metal in its warehouse, which it picks, coats and delivers to customers on its own transport. The company manufactures out of aluminium the clips that the louvre blades attach to, rather than nylon clips used by some louvre manufacturers, and Ikon also boasts a specialist welding facility at its Shard End site.

Notable products that the company manufactures and supplies include louvre doors (plus a PAS24 version) and what John describes as the UK’s widest range of louvres, which Glass Times saw first-hand, including a live project requiring multiple unitised louvre panels covering over 960m2. The panels have been designed to offer architectural aesthetic qualities, coupled with acoustic properties and will encapsulate vast M&E plant on the roof of a major newbuild project in London.

Many of the louvres that Ikon makes are required for ventilation purposes, which gives the company an intricate understanding of their requirements.

Therefore, when it recently launched its IKL300 series, an aluminium louvre system designed for slimline applications requiring 50% physical free area, Ikon was praised by customers. The IKL300 PFA50 has been engineered to meet the requirements of 50% physical free air flow without having to use a 50mm deep louvre. It is a cost-effective alternative to the 50mm version, being around 14% cheaper.

It can be glazed into either a standard PVCU window or a slim sightline aluminium window, door or any aperture that demands ventilation but doesn’t have the space for a larger depth product. It can be glazed in 24mm, 28mm and 32mm, as standard.

As a specified product, the new louvre will suit residential, education facilities, healthcare, retail and local authority buildings plus car parks and data centres.

Blade centres are 30mm with a blade angle of 59º. The new energy efficient louvre achieves a visual free area of 58% and physical free area of 50%. It has been tested in accordance with BS EN 13030:2002 (BSRIA).

“Traditionally, the larger the physical free area demanded, the bigger the blade required,” John said. “This has meant that architects, specifiers and installers have had limited options and aesthetics have been compromised.”

Looking to the future, the company has significant investment plans in place, both for the powder coating facility and the systems/fabrication side of the business. This would include extending the geographical reach of Ikon, which, John said, may involve the acquisition of smaller companies.