A people-first approach
Thermoseal Group has invested heavily in machinery and infrastructure in recent years, but it is the people that make it work, claims managing director, Gwain Paterson.
The Future Homes Standard, expected to become legislation in 2025, could bring U-values for windows into newbuild properties down to 0.8W/m2K. While there is still some uncertainty around the details, most people are preparing for an increase in demand for triple glazing to meet this change.
Consequently, Thermoseal Group are installing new lines and storage facilities to manufacture and distribute larger quantities of Thermobar in 12mm, 14mm and 16mm widths to meet this uptick in demand, alongside increased quantities of it flexible spacer bar Thermoflex.
The company is also talking to customers about making the necessary changes to their operations.
However, all of these investments would be immaterial if the same time and money had not been applied to its workforce, according to Thermoseal Group’s managing director Gwain Paterson.
“We are the leading component supplier in the IGU industry,” Gwain says, “but alongside our investment in machinery and wider infrastructure, we have a highly dedicated team testing those products, manufacturing those components, and packing orders for delivery.
“We ensure that all our staff are highly trained, motivated and informed about the business and commitment to quality.
“It’s well-known that we have a skills crisis in our industry, but we have the best chance of enticing more people into the sector if we empower our staff through upskilling and training, to create a really motivated and loyal workforce,” Gwain says. “And, ultimately, it is our customers who benefit.”
Thermoseal has invested heavily in training. The firm employs 150 people over its three sites in Wigan and Birmingham, all of whom are given the opportunity to take part in both internal and external training seminars, and to tour the shop floor with their management teams to gain a wider insight into the activities of the business.
Having been awarded the ‘Developed’ level of performance by the Investors of People group, Thermoseal’s staff were all shown to be “committed to the values of the business and [are] striving to provide high-quality products and excellent service to the Company’s customers”, according to the report’s author Gordon Stopani.
According to Gwain, part of this commitment to high-quality is empowering the staff to suggest new processes and highlight any areas where efficiencies could be made.
“A lot of the equipment and processes we use are bespoke, so we really rely on the operators giving us feedback on the changes we make and also taking suggestions from them on how we can improve,” says Gwain.
This year, Thermoseal Group posted an increase in sales of 11%, at a time when the market was widely considered to be slowing, and its innovation of quality products continues to grow. Gwain says developments for next year will involve new energy efficient products, and further investment in machinery and infrastructure.
Undertaking a project to install new lines and storage facilities to manufacture and distribute larger quantities of Thermobar is not Thermoseal’s only preparation for the increase in demand for triple glazing. The company has recently invested in a third twin-strand extruder for its Thermobar line, which can produce all thicknesses including 4.8mm, 6.3mm and 7.3mm, and air spaces up to 28mm in twin strand.
As well as its range of bars, Thermoseal Group also supplies a range of other products required for the manufacture of sealed units, including corner keys, desiccant, primary and secondary sealant, and cloth tape. All components are tested at the company’s laboratory before distribution, guaranteeing that they all work together effectively for a long-lasting sealed unit.
“A company is only as good as its workforce,” says Gwain, “Last year we supplied over 50 million metres of spacer bar – it has to be right all the time. Everybody understands that we have the right specifications, but what’s crucial is that our staff are on board in terms of quality, ensuring that we continue to be industry leaders, and that we continue to meet demand.”