Be a driver, not a passenger

Dave Broxton
Dave Broxton

Bohle’s managing director, Dave Broxton, says that even when the market is sluggish, a well-run business will flourish.

I am writing this in the same week Rishi Sunak called the General Election for July 4. Given the short timescales involved, you could well be reading this as a new Prime Minister settles into Number 10.

Like the majority of managing directors in this industry, politics don’t enter my day-to-day running of the business. The reason I bring it up here is that I’ve heard some people say the shadow of a General Election is partly to blame for the sluggish market conditions we’ve been experiencing in 2024.

Yes, it could well be a factor, along with high interest rates, high (but now settling) inflation, high (but now falling) energy prices. Yes, there are many things that can affect consumer confidence, but if we spend too much time looking for excuses, then we could miss the real opportunities.

This came into sharp focus for me when we recently hosted an open day at our offices near Manchester.

These open days are great opportunities for us to showcase our whole product range to customers who may only buy certain items, while offering refresher training courses on familiar ranges.

The day also allowed us to spend time talking about the market, and about where the real opportunities lie. Also, we discussed how companies can offer products and services that are in step with their customers’ changing demands.

It was an eye opener. I’ve spoken at length about how Bohle has shifted its focus in the last couple of years to help create opportunities for the home improvement sector, which was positively received by companies at the FIT Show in 2023.

We are now having conversations with well-established customers about how they can introduce new products and processes in their offering to win more business. And there are significant opportunities in the glass sector to fulfil a demand not seen elsewhere.

Homeowners are seeking out bespoke glass installations for showers and wet rooms, all-glass staircase balustrades, glass room dividers, mirrored walls, sliding glass walk in wardrobes, even under-the-stairs glass wine cellars.

Today it is all about aspiration, and glass companies that once met the demand for standard me-too products are pivoting towards the high-end market.

We are developing relationships with companies that are designing new products, and adding extra processes to their offering to capitalise on this shift in demand.

It is easy for business leaders to look at the state of the market today, and see an environment fraught with difficulties. But if you take a closer look, then you’ll see that the squeeze is taking place at the volume end of the market.

In the home improvement sector, brands like Everest and Safestyle ran on big marketing engines that needed constant fuel. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the homeowners they targeted saw their discretionary spend dry up, then they too would feel the effects.

While those big beasts stumbled, the well-run, agile medium-sized businesses have made the most of opportunities elsewhere in the industry, capitalising on the support offered by companies like Bohle.

Our premium shower hardware has been very popular, especially with homeowners looking to create their own Grand Designs project. So too has our MasterTrack FT high-end sliding door system, and FrameTec 2.0 dry-glazing glass partitioning system, which is also designed to support fast and cost-efficient installation using a modular design and easy-fix system.

The fact that our premium ranges are designed and built in Germany, and that our supply chain is robust, has also helped us secure and maintain business at a time of fragile international connectivity.

I expect the market will start to pick up in the second half of 2024, but as recent conversations with customers have confirmed, successful companies don’t wait for the right opportunities, they make the opportunities for themselves.