A unique approach to the industry
Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell visited Leicester-based Unique Window Systems to discover where market growth is coming from.
When Glass Times last visited Unique Window Systems in Leicester, the company was ramping up its production of WarmCore windows, which has proven to be successful for the company.
At the time, new Graf machinery from Promac was being installed in a new 45,000ft2 factory just down the road from the main headquarters, which would allow the company to manufacture aluminium windows with a mitred corner, something joint MD Sunil Patel said no-one else was able to do.
“One of the great things about Synseal’s WarmCore system is that it has been brilliantly marketed to trade,” Sunil said, a year after the machinery has been commissioned.
“We identified a need in the market for a system and that is where we put the investment. We are the only fabricator making WarmCore windows with a mitred corner, and it is going down a storm.
“The biggest benefit clients see is the low U-value. WarmCore ticks all the boxes when it comes to thermal performance, alongside aesthetics for the homeowner.”
A year later and Unique is once again in the process of commissioning a raft of machinery from Promac, this time in its PVCU production factory where a £2.5 million investment will see capacity increased from 1,500 frames a week to 2,500. This decision also means that 90% of all machinery in this one factory is brand new.
Unique has acquired a second BDM cutting and machining centre with additional saw blade and end milling capabilities, as well as two six-head welders and a SV 800 corner cleaner as part of its Urban frame line.
Unique has also purchased three new quad welders and a second SV 800 corner cleaner to further enhance its Urban sash line. Finally, a Link-9045 two-head welder and miller with a SV530S-C CMC corner cleaner complete Unique’s latest machinery purchases.
The firm has also leased a 10,000ft2 warehouse and distribution unit about 100 yards from the main building, which frees up manufacturing space and gives smaller trade customers more room to collect products, and this, Sunil said, is central to the company’s strategy.
“We barely got the machines in the door, when we recorded a month of £1.95 million in sales, and this was on the back of an increase of 20% compared to this time last year,” he said. “This is largely down to an increase in trade business.
“We are actively chasing new trade customers, and working hard to maintain the relationships we have with existing ones – hence the new distribution point, and new products.”
Sunil cited the Unifold bifold door – designed by Unique and developed over two years – as one of the major factors Unique Window Systems has received plaudits from the company’s loyal band of local trade customers.
“One of the biggest positives for our customers, from our significant machinery investment, is the fantastic lead times we can now offer on our products,” Sunil said. “For instance, we can now supply Unifold bifolds with a five-working-day turnaround on white, grey, and grey-on-white finishes. I’m confident this is one of, if not the best, lead times for aluminium bifolding doors in the industry currently.”
Unique’s customers also have access to aluminium windows based on the Aluk system, which will be offered to the wider trade early next year.
“We are supporting all this with promotional tools, such as Fengo from First Degree Systems, which is a platform that helps the domestic salesman sell in the home.”
What is clear is that these are proactive moves with considerable investment, rather reactive moves against a backdrop of difficult trading conditions, which should keep the firm relevant for many years to come yet.