Confidence and ambition

Paul Garrard
Paul Garrard

Growing a successful business takes time and patience, says Paul Garrard, managing director of Cornwall Glass & Glazing.

Sales of glass products into commercial projects or domestic refurbishment drive the glass industry in the UK and, like elsewhere in construction and home improvement sectors, constant refinement and investment in your offering is key to success, according to Paul Garrard, managing director of Cornwall Glass & Glazing.

“When it comes to analysing the success of Cornwall Glass & Glazing, it isn’t in our nature to approach it from the success of our products,” Paul says. “For us – and the wider Cornwall Group – customer relationships are the most important, because if you don’t get that right, then you would struggle to sell products – no matter how good they are.

“So, when we discuss the impact of a difficult market – high borrowing costs, high cost of living, high interest rates – then we know that we can go into that uncertainty with confidence.”

Paul explains that in the commercial glazing sector in particular, dynamics continue to change, which encourages Cornwall Glass and Glazing to adapt.

“We are certainly facing increased competition,” Paul says. “On the one hand, we may not be the sole provider, but we are also competing for investment money. In some cases, properties are being divested and in others, rental models are changing.

“For example, some landlords recognise the benefits a specialist contractor like Cornwall Glass & Glazing can bring to a maintenance contract, and which builds on those relationships we have already built up. But there are others who are taking maintenance tasks in house in a bid to cut costs.

“Interestingly, this is a cyclical issue, and we often see these customers return, because they quickly realise that we offer a very specialist service that they struggle to replicate in house.”

Cornwall Glass & Glazing has a strong network of seven branches across the South West, from Penzance to Bristol. While this allows it to offer a very local and personalised service to each region, Paul argues that it gives a uniqueness to property managers who manage their portfolios remotely.

“We can offer a comprehensive service,” Paul says. “And we invest in accreditations that support our professionalism, such as FENSA, CHAS, SafeContractor, and Constructionline.”

Cornwall Glass & Glazing has recently invested in the operational side of the business, having taken delivery of eight brand-new transit vans, and unveiling a new IT platform across its seven sites in the South West. Together, they represent a £500k investment, and build on its high level of professionalism.

The eight Ford Transit vans are a key investment for Cornwall Glass & Glazing, because they are fully kitted out with the latest racking and safety features. They now form a part of a glazing and installation fleet of over 30 specialist vehicles.

Cornwall Glass & Glazing’s new IT platform creates new efficiencies across all seven sites, linking orders, quotes and invoicing. This is the first step in a complete overhaul of the company’s internal processes, which precedes project and contract management, alongside the management of labour and transportation resources.

Another string to the company’s bow is its online enterprise – UK Glass Centre – which is now in its 11th year, and managed by the Truro office.

UK Glass Centre is a national service, taking Cornwall Glass & Glazing away from its base in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. It also gives Paul a useful window into what is trending elsewhere across the country.

“During August, we had a record month with UK Glass Centre,” Paul says. “This was driven by a handful of big projects, and I can confidently say that restoration glass is gaining popularity. Thanks to our close working relationship with Mackenzie Glass, we can offer a real breadth of service via the UK Glass Centre, because they stock one of the biggest glass ranges in the UK.”

Paul says that Cornwall Glass and Glazing doesn’t want to limit its national reach just through an online service, arguing that strategic acquisitions outside of its base in the South West will help improve its offering.

“The appetite is definitely there,” Paul says. “But we would have to make sure the fit is absolutely right. By finding a way to grow outside of our geographical area would mean growing the Cornwall Group family, so any new partner would have to share those values.

“And it is those values that give us confidence and ambition,” he concludes. “While others are hunkering down for a storm, we are keeping our eyes are and looking for the opportunities the storm creates.”