Meet the standards you expect yourself

Managing director of Walsall-based Rapid Frame, Martin Corcoran, says choosing your suppliers carefully will help you meet market demands.

Established in 1998, Rapid Frame began life supplying trade customers nationwide with market-leading products, but quickly developed a retail arm which brought significant benefits across the board, according to owner and managing director of Rapid Frame, Martin Corcoran.

“We noticed a lot of people sold on profile brands back in 2002,” Martin said. “So, we decided to offer something new and different by setting up the Formula One Range in 2003 and registering it as a trademark.”

Originally pushed out to trade customers, Rapid Frame opened its first retail outlet in Telford 2009, and a second one more recently in Cheslyn Hay, Walsall, in 2022.

“Our aim is to operate from five retail sites altogether,” Martin said. “And far from conflicting with them, our trade customers are directly benefiting from the investment we are putting into our retail operations.”

Unique offering

Martin’s view of a window is that its ‘value’ can be split 50/50 between the components on one hand, and the brand on the other.

“While the Formula One range was designed originally for our trade customers to sell something different and unique to their customers, we’ve leveraged that same brand for homeowners in the regions we operate in,” he said.

“Our trade customers don’t conflict with other Formula One retailers in their area – we control the brand very carefully in that sense.

“The whole idea of our retail operation was to create margin that could be put back into marketing and infrastructure. So, this wasn’t being charged through the frames that we sell – it was actually being self-generated by our own retail market to push the brand out as a national brand.

“We also come away from this exercise with additional retail knowledge that we can share with our trade customers.”

Underpinning this successful national brand is Aluplast, which has supplied Rapid Frame since 2005.

This makes the Walsall-based fabricator one of the longest established aluplast fabricators in the UK.

“Aluplast are very good at supplying us,” Martin said. “And we need that consistency. We don’t like disappointing customers, which can lead to unnecessary conflict – something that is best avoided if you want a successful partnership.

“Thankfully, Aluplast deliver us the product when we need it, especially the foiled products – the quality is very good with those.

“Colour has been interesting for the last 20 years probably. Originally it was golden oak and rosewood and whites, and then colour became a massive mover generally. We’re aiming for 40% in colours in the next year, which will probably increase to 60% over the course of the next three to five years.

Flush push

“We’ve also noticed the massive influx in the flush sash, even in the newbuild market,” Martin continued. “So, we’re now manufacturing flush windows for our trade and retail customers.”

With a range of 40 different finishes, including the next generation Woodec and Aludec foils, Aluplast has invested significantly in its foil offer. This has allowed it to maintain a strong supply of its most popular stock colours.

Thanks to a flush casement window, which suites with both the Ideal 70 and Ideal 4000 systems, and a dedicated flush door, which is available as a French door, or as a single outward-opening door, customers can now offer a uniform flush appearance in both the heritage and contemporary sectors by providing a uniform flush appearance across both windows and doors.

“The Formula One Range will remain the same as a brand, but the technology behind it is constantly being updated,” Martin said. “The same goes for the security, as does the appearance, and our customers directly benefit from the fact that all Aluplast’s flush products are PAS24 accredited, and meet all the standards for weather tightness.”

Rapid Frame’s 12,000ft2 site is regularly being updated with the new machinery, with recent investments including a five-head welder from Haffner, a three-axis machining centre from FOM, and two CNC cutting stations from Pertici.

The company has also added two new Mercedes 7.5-tonne trucks to the three it already owns to continue to meet its promise of ‘timed slot deliveries’.

Despite the improved levels of automation, Martin said there is no substitute to employing the right people with the right skills.

“The key to any successful business is looking after your people,” he said. “And our philosophy has always been it’s a business about people – we employ a lot of families, and we pay a lot of mortgages.

“It’s our intention to continue that while making the products the standards that we would expect, and therefore our customers expect.”