Twenty-year partnership celebrated

Ultraframe roof fabricator Specialised Conservatory Systems is celebrating 20 years in business this year.

The Preston-based company was established in 1997 by Dave Thomas who spent a period subcontracting to Ultraframe in the mid 1990s and discovered an opportunity in trade roof fabrication.

“I saw a lot of fabricators getting it wrong,” he said. “So, I thought I could set up on my own with technical support from Ultraframe, and financial know-how from my wife Denise.”

Dave started making about two or three roofs a week from a 1,000ft2 unit, but within a year he had expanded to 10 roofs a week.

“I stayed at this level for about two years,” Dave said, “but I saw there was still room for growth.

“Therefore, I moved to bigger premises and was quickly making around 30 roofs a week. After twice putting in 36-hour shifts, I realised it was time to increase the staff count at Specialised.”

Before long, the company was in a 15,000ft2 unit making 40 roofs a week. Just before the credit crunch and ensuing recession, Specialised was fabricating 70 roofs a week.

“In 2008 we took a hit like everyone else, but over the last four to five years we have really started to see the market for conservatory roofs pick up,” Dave said. “However, standard roofs are no longer popular; we are making bigger and more complicated structures, which is not a difficult task for the Ultraframe system.

“Today we are averaging around 40 large roofs a week, and we are keen to grow further.

“Ten years ago we saw a shift from polycarbonate roofs to glass roofs, and today we are seeing another shift as customers are turning to solid roof alternatives. Again, we are meeting this trend thanks to Ultraframe, this time supplying Ultraroof 380 and Livinroof.”

Dave promotes Specialised Conservatory Systems as something of a standard bearer for Ultraframe, having been a loyal customer for 20 years.

Dave has also employed people who have left the systems company for a career in fabrication, including sales and marketing director Simon Bartlett, who has 24 years’ experience, and director Karl Beard, who has 30 years’ commercial experience.

Today, the company employs 14 people and has a national reach. Specialised also offers free surveys and on-site assistance to all customers.