Jason McCabe, commercial and site director highlights what has influenced this additional commitment and what synergies can be expected from their recent acquisition of Romag.
Over the last 5 years we have enjoyed an average growth of 12% and by 2018 we expect turnover to achieve £20 million, before we even count the considerable impact that Romag will bring to us as a group.
But to sustain this growth pattern we have and will continue to invest heavily across all business operations.
As an independent glass processor that’s owner managed, we are able to act quickly and decisively as needs dictate, without the shackles of corporate investors looking for short-term returns.
So investments in new capital equipment, pioneering new products and staff etc can be made relatively quickly, though such requirements are often considered within our diligent planning process.
It’s fundamentally important that glass manufacturers invest to stay ahead of today’s and tomorrow’s legislative influences, so that demand for certain products can be easily satisfied, something demonstrated by demand for laminated glass at present.
To harness business assets to within the very last percentage point of their capability is not best practice in our view, as we ensure that at any given time we are able to increase production effectively, but importantly, also have the service and operational infrastructure to support it.
We’ve already committed to a second laminated cutting table to double our capacity and avoid overstretching in this now key area. With a strong foothold in the door market, the PAS 24 requirement for glazing in and adjacent to doorsets must incorporate one pane of laminated glass meeting, or exceeding, the requirements of BS EN 356:2000 class P1A and so will increase demand for laminated glass.
Furthermore, with PAS 24 the preferred means to achieve the criteria laid down by Secured by Design and with several composite door companies offering this standard, this upward trand is expected to continue.
This investment will also result in us carrying stocks of thicker laminated glass, up to 11.5mm, to support a wide range of potential commercial projects for Clayton Glass and Romag.
There’s also a new automatic arising line part of this investment programme, not only able to fully process one piece of glass every 11 seconds, but doing so with greatly improved edge work.
This key asset will reduce the potential for surface scratches and furnace losses whilst reducing manual handling and offering a more consistent finish.
Often when we invest in one part of the manufacturing plant there is an underlying need to commit to other new machinery to ensure a more fluid production process, thereby helping to eliminate any limiting factors in the revised capacity.
A new furnace for our conservatory glass division will not only offer improved product quality and consistency with state of the art convection, but will add a further 50% additional capacity.
Both our SMARTGLASS® manufacturing plants now have the facility to produce oversized roof glass, eliminating the requirement for muntin bars in nearly all instances.
There’s also a completely new line for this market leading range of glass for conservatories and bi-folding doors, so we can support our continued growth well ahead of sales demand.
Our new SMARTGLASS® Ultra 86 has set the benchmark high in terms of performance for conservatory roof glass, while SMARTGLASS®-W is a revelation in glass for conservatory side frames. Given its inherent ability to vastly reduce solar heat gain, it’s also the perfect product for bi-folding doors with interest from a number of high profile brands in the trade and consumer sector.
While this further £1.25 million investment at Clayton Glass is substantial, we also have the ability to call upon the resources we have at Romag, which co-incidentally is based just a matter of a few miles away from our base in Stanley, County Durham.
They have specific expertise in laminating, bending, polishing, drilling and screen printing IGU’s, skillsets that we don’t have directly at Clayton Glass and so will form an extension of the products we can offer to our UK-wide customer base.
The other core competences of fire glass and solar PV solutions at Romag will also open up interesting and more diverse product opportunities for us in the years to come.
We already caused quite a stir at the FIT Show with our SMARTGLASS® Dynamic, powered by SageGlass, an electrochromic, switchable glass for lantern roofs, with sales already starting to come through. Clearly we have the opportunity to innovate and lead in the glass sector and are thriving in doing so.
Our investment programme is ongoing with further plans to commit in 2017, as we look to cement ourselves as one of the most dynamic companies in the glass manufacturing sector, something that the Romag acquisition will help further nurture.
Being independent makes us flexible, yet our reputation for quality and service is something that will serve well in the years and decades to come, as we look to invest for the future.