The clip that clicks in America

Returning from a successful trip to California, The Georgian Bar Company’s commercial director Phil Dewhurst Jr discusses how the Georgian Bar clip is poised to take on the US market in 2022.

It’s been a while since I was last over in the US, due to the pandemic, but on my return I was pleased to find that the enthusiasm for having a clip-on Georgian Bar hadn’t waned and that our US distributor was ready to go with stocked product, a marketing campaign, fabricator appointments, and additional members of their sales team.

The fenestration industry in the US is a little different from the UK. For a considerable sector the window sizes are standard, and volumes are on another level. Some fabricators manufacture tens of thousands of windows a day and then distribute them through builders’ merchants as a stock item. The simplification of the supply chain means that any extras, like Georgian Bars, have to be quick and easy to fit.

Understanding the need for a faster fit time, alongside the US’s AAMA regulations and wide use of a ‘hard’ bead, meant redesigning the UK clip. We were already up to version three before the pandemic hit, but it still needed honing. Rather than let the enforced hiatus scupper our inroads to the US market, we took the time out to get the design spot on. The result is an ultra-thin, strong sprung steel clip that has passed testing requirements to hurricane forces in the US.

The refinements were immediately recognised and have made a massive difference. I was only in California for three days in November, and we took a huge leap forward. On day one I had a meeting with US Polymers, the American distributor of the Geofast bar system which for the US and Canada is named WINtek. They were very impressed with the upgraded design.

On day two, I took the director of sales from US Polymers out to visit a prospect. We didn’t have to say much because as soon as he heard the sound of the click, the fabricator said he would buy it.

Day three, we finalised our 2022 launch, marketing, and exhibition strategy with a few Vodka Martinis in Beverly Hills to close out the trip. Of course, they were shaken not stirred.

The click is important. In the UK we talk about the clip because that holds the biggest benefits to customers to ensure it stays put. In the US it looks like it’s also going to be the click, as it represents the positive positioning of the bar: once clicked into place, it can’t and won’t fall off. This is a huge selling point over stick-on bars or internal glazing bars.

Most people think there isn’t widespread popularity of Georgian Bars in the US, but there is a massive appetite for them. The barrier to popularity has been only having a stick-on product. Stick on is temporary but a clip-on is a permanent mechanical fix that gives confidence. Both traditional and modern housing styles include windows with Georgian Bars or SDL’s as they call it, with colonial styling remaining one of the most popular in new homes.

We knew that the market was huge, but the design must tick the boxes for the regulations, the ease within fabrication, and the aesthetics. Now the new clip has all three, we believe that the US will become the biggest overseas market for The Georgian Bar Company.

We have had to work hard to get this success over many years. We first exhibited at Glassbuild in 2014 with our Geofast range, not only to get an understanding of the market but to be able to create the tailored-for US product. Midway, we had a soft launch and WINtek was awarded Best New Product award at the WINdoor show in Canada based on the prototype we’ve now put into production

2022 looks like it is going to be a very exciting year. I’m going back to California in January, with meetings already set up with prospective customers of the first fabricator on board. It’s this type of hands-on approach that we know works well. If the manufacturer and designer of the clip is there to answer questions in the early days, it pays dividends later down the line. We only have to look at what Phil Sr. has done in India to seize the opportunities there.

In October 2022, US Polymers is taking the clip to Glassbuild America in Las Vegas to demonstrate the benefits to a huge audience. It will be great to be back and show what we have to offer the US market.