Well placed for 2023

Howard Trotter
Howard Trotter

Howard Trotter, business manager of Birmingham-based window and door manufacturer Shelforce, speaks to Glass Times about a fantastic 2022 – and how he sees 2023 for the company.

GT: Howard, how was 2022 for Shelforce?

Howard Trotter (HT): We’ve had another good year, building on a great 2021. Our fully compliant Fireshel 30-minure fire, smoke, and security resistant door has continued to be in huge demand, and we had to increase manufacturing capacity from 130 doors to 200 to cope with that.

The projects we’ve also played a part in included five tower blocks in Birmingham at the end of 2022, for both fire doors and windows and these included 6,000 fire doors for energy and regeneration specialists EQUANS and 2,500 for property solutions specialists Fortem.

We were also voted Diversity Champion at the Scale-Up Awards 2022 and it’s also been great to support some fantastic industry events. We sponsored the Glazing Summit at Edgbaston Stadium in the autumn, while I was also lucky enough to join a seminar panel at London Build in November to discuss fire door compliance.

GT: What challenges did you face?

HT: We didn’t see a big downturn in 2022 and political instability didn’t really affect us as a business, and we didn’t have any major problems with our supply chain.

We have had to deal with container surcharges and the impact of the pound against the dollar but that’s a pricing issue and it hasn’t made people buy or order less.

It has just meant margins are either smaller or we’ve had to put increases in but that hasn’t affected business for us at all.

GT: How do you see 2023?

HT: For us it’s going to be really busy and I can see even more growth. Fire doors are one thing, and that market has grown in the last two years enormously and it is set to continue.

We are currently having conversations with other local authorities to see if we can supply them with our Fireshel fire door.

When it comes to specifying a fire door solution, local authorities must understand fire doors and their components, including the testing and certification that must be supplied, and the standards and regulations that must be met.

When it comes to fire protection, local authorities want to buy certifiable doors from reputable organisations and our own personal integrity, reputation and the type of business is attractive.

That demand also means we will be looking at recruiting and strengthening the team at our factory in Erdington, and, with 75% of its workforce having a disability, continuing our inclusive training and employment legacy.

GT: How do you think the industry is placed for the year ahead?

HT: Energy efficiency will continue to be a big issue, not just for local authorities but within private homes.

With energy prices set to rise again in April, people are going to continue to look at how they can keep their homes warm, and windows and doors are a big part of that, so consumer interest should remain high despite the cost-of-living crisis – it’s far from doom and gloom.

I think the industry is well placed to tackle any challenges. After the impact of Covid I think a lot of good businesses are better placed to deal with uncertainty and we just take it in our stride now.

The SMEs, such as Shelforce and most of the businesses in the industry, are in many respects the workhorses of this country and it’s the smaller businesses that keep on going and find ways to get through it all.