Succession planning and investment

TruFrame’s £3.2 million investment programme is part of a vision for the future. Managing director David Firmager explains why this is a fundamental part of the company’s succession planning.

The market for PVCU frame manufacturing is going through a transitionary phase at present, with some larger groups buying up sizeable existing businesses and distribution channels. Yet, TruFrame firmly remains an independent, family-owned business with corresponding values, and a cleverly orchestrated plan for the future.

Small to mid-sized fabricators are continuously being squeezed from all directions. Raw material costs and business overheads are increasing all the time, as is the need for greater stock holding to cater for an ever-growing product range. This often leads to the commercial risk of capital investment far outweighing any potential gains that could be made, even if the cash is available.

This has implications on succession planning not just at fabrication level in the industry, but I would suggest in all companies in the respective supply chains in the glazing and fenestration markets. Will we see further consolidation, in my opinion, with existing business models in some cases simply not proving sustainable.

Closer to home, we have an immediate need to invest not just for short-term requirements, but for a longer-term position as one of the UK’s top five largest PVCU frame manufacturers. We’ve got an enviable reputation for product quality and our four-stage hand finishing process to every frame is the envy of many, yet yearned for by our loyal customers.

Without question, we’re always looking at ways to improve in what we do, and we now have in place a senior management team that is committed to the future vision and strategic plan we now have in place at TruFrame. Some of these new faces have backgrounds in blue-chip and multinational companies, which we believe will bring refreshing new skillsets not just to TruFrame, but the industry as a whole.

The headline story of the £3.2 million investment programme in May this year is obviously a huge undertaking in terms of project planning and ensuring our world class KPIs and OTIFs remain overwhelmingly impressive. There’s been a need for this to be closely managed and planned, and it’s for good reason that my son, Patrick, has been tasked with this project implementation. He’s spent the last 10 years in the company, in a variety of roles, and fully understands the values and future direction in which the business will be taken.

The first phase of the capex programme has seen the commissioning of three new Urban AKS 1150 single-head butt-welders, which offer a notable 0.2mm weld restriction for an improved finish, as well as a new Rotox EKA 574 CNC corner, transom and crucifix cleaner, which will complement the two new Rotox SEK 503 crucifix welders due for delivery in the coming weeks.

A major part of the new machinery rollout will be installation of the first of our new cutting and machining centres, which will be in full production by September. We anticipate the conclusion of this programme of investment in January 2018, as we carefully manage the introduction of each machine and the respective production processes.

Despite the most accurate of tolerances from the latest capital equipment, we still feel obliged to finish off our products by hand, thanks to our skilled craftspeople. In many ways, this is part of the product promise to our customers, who in turn sell the virtues of our PVCU frames to discerning homeowners.

Succession planning and investment is a wisely balanced recipe for success and, for TruFrame, a blueprint for the future. For our business to continue thriving we must design for the future and bring in the capital equipment, human resources and staff training programmes to realise this. After all it’s got our name on it.