Welcome to the world of window
Based in Westcott, near Aylesbury, Clear Edge was set up to supply its sister company, the garden room company Green Retreats. Sales manager Chris Dyke explains why the company decided to branch out into window and door fabrication, and why Rehau has been the perfect partner during this transition.
Green Retreats began life back in 2005, and grew from a business manufacturing and installing animal housing across the UK. It has since become the leading garden room company in the country, having installed over 11,000 garden rooms.
When we first set out we trialled different PVCU window systems and worked with a number of different firms. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a great experience and were often left feeling let down. We faced some deal breaking issues, with a key problem being that suppliers couldn’t meet our turn around times, as many of our rooms only have a three to five-week lead time. But we also suffered with quality problems, often feeling that the product wasn’t up to the high quality our customers expect.
That was how Clear Edge was born. We decided to find a profile partner that matched our ethos and begin fabricating the actual windows and doors ourselves. We have always found the windows and doors to be our largest outgoing and the one area that causes the most snags after installation, so we really wanted to take control of this specific area.
Having worked with the construction industry we understood Rehau products to have a fantastic reputation as the best quality, and so we’ve been delighted to work closely with the team who have supported our new venture from all angles.
There is also a real synergy between our brands, not only from a high-quality perspective but also as two businesses that value the environment and consider this within the manufacturing process of products and the actual products.
For example, Green Retreats is carbon neutral and is powered by a combination of solar power and an incinerator. Rehau is also operating its factories on 100% renewable energy and produces the Total70 co-extruded product, which of course includes up to 100% post-consumer waste in the core of the profile. This is a key for us as our customers want to be green and so this enhances our offering.
Colour is also an important element to us, and something we know has been a key trend in the industry in recent years. We’ve had our journey with this, as initially we installed white and both light and dark oak windows and doors in our rooms. Quickly we realised our customers tastes mirrored the industry and have moved towards more contemporary colours. Now we are manufacturing only anthracite grey and the new midnight black from Rehau with white inside – something we know is a huge trend.
Since working with Rehau we have already seen noticeable differences – even with the first door we fabricated in our factory. This door was taken to the Home Building and Renovating Show and was used to enter our stand, something we’ve always done in the past. However, in previous years as the day has gone on and the temperatures have increased the door has required adjustments. This year, despite the soaring heat, that was not the case, something that has demonstrated to us a great quality product.
Of course, the whole process has not been without its challenges. The main hurdle we have come across is finding experienced people to work in our factory and getting to know the industry and its demands. Our factory manager comes from a Formula 1 racing background so his attention to detail is excellent and something I know will steer us in the right direction.
The future for Clear Edge though is looking bright. Our next step is to ensure production in our factory is running smoothly and can cope with demand, of which we are confident.
Following a six-month period we plan to expand and begin offering our services outside of Green Retreats. It’s definitely been a steep learning curve for us all, and the journey is far from finished.