Traditional meets state-of-the-art

Combining time-honoured craftsmanship with cutting-edge manufacturing technology, Cumbria’s West Port Windows and Doors offers something unique in UK glazing, according to managing director Sean Parnaby.

It’s a balance of the best aspects of large and small-scale fabrication that’s allowed us to thrive over the last 20 years – not just becoming one of the UK’s biggest and most respected timber fabricators, but also a key part of VKR Holding, the company behind Velfac and Velux.

Today, the West Port Windows and Doors employs more than 180 craftsmen and technicians, and operates from a 175,000ft2 factory kitted out with state-of-the-art equipment, which has boosted efficiency, improved quality, and helped us to stand out from the crowd.

Our product range includes: casement, vertical-sliding sash, and tilt and turn windows; entrance, French, and in-line sliding patio doors; and aluminium-clad composite windows.

But I believe it’s the level of service West Port provides, and the lengths we go to offer our customers the best possible products at the best possible prices, that place us among the top fabricators in the UK.

Take painting, for example. Most timber manufacturers have to get their products painted by hand spraying, which increases lead times, and adds to the cost of every product they make.

West Port, on the other hand, can boast one of only two high-tech electrostatic paint plants in the UK – the other is owned by global car giant Jaguar. With it, we can apply 10-12 coats in a single pass – and any waste paint is recollected and used as the basecoat for other products, making savings that we then pass on to our customers.

We also have our own advanced paint mixing facility. By taking samples of a desired colour, then running it through a spectrometer, the device can exactly replicate it. So far, we have produced 175,000 different colour combinations.

Alongside the most advanced modern manufacturing, we are also home to craftsmanship at its purest and most traditional.

We employ six highly experienced joiners to work on the most bespoke and intricate projects, enabling us to produce anything from wildly unusual custom creations to identical copies of 100-year-old heritage windows, right down to specific sash horn shapes and other unique quirks.

From start to finish, our manufacturing process takes place under one roof. Quality slow-grown timber comes in at one end of the factory – and expertly crafted windows and doors come out the other. Through VKR Holding, we’re able to buy directly from lumber mills, minimising costs for us and our customers, and all painting and finishing takes place on site.

Unlike a lot of our competitors, we haven’t shifted production abroad – 100% of the products we make are crafted here in Cumbria, something that not only provides nearly 200 skilled manufacturing jobs, but is going to become increasingly important after Brexit.

And, all the time, we’re seeing more and more installers wake up to the benefits of modern engineered timber. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about how timber-alternative PVCU products offer all the benefits of wood, without any of the drawbacks – but with modern timber, there are no drawbacks.

It’s the strongest, greenest, longest-lasting window fenestration material of them all – and, to the trade, timber offers fantastic opportunities to appeal to high-end users, improve their margins, and to grow their businesses.