August 25th, 2017 - Beth

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Wellingborough-based Glazerite is now in its 17th year. Its journey to becoming one of the UK’s most successful trade fabricators has been remarkably gimmick-free. Glass Times asks Group MD Jason Thompson to overcome a natural tendency to modesty and tell us their secret….

The Glazerite of 2017 is now a rather different animal than the company that Jason and John Hewitt began in 2000. Then, aspirations were to reduce their working hours to a four-day week with John intending to spend a great deal more time on the golf course. Total sales in the first year of £172,000 have now bloomed to more than £27 million, with additional factories in Wellingborough, Bolton and Peterborough, and a distribution hub in Bristol. Reduced working hours were an early casualty.

So what went right? “I have been asked for the secret of our success many times,” says Jason, “and at the risk of spouting clichés I can only say that our goal has always been the pursuit of perfection. That remains intrinsic in our offering today and it will continue in the future. However, perhaps a key factor behind our success is that it’s never something we ever feel we’ve achieved, to tick off and move on.  This keeps us on our toes, always with the feeling that things can always be improved, sharpened, made better.

“Of course any business has to keep evolving to keep up with changing trends, developments and buying habits. But the core of our business, how we do things on a daily basis, can always be improved,” says Jason.

“What really sets us apart is the complete flexibility installers have when working with us.  We make sure our customers can choose the sort of service and product offer that suits them, not us. We can literally help them build a package and approach to accommodate any business size and type to ensure they are getting the most from us and that they are being serviced in the right way.  They can literally cherry pick from a range of elements, products and service elements to support their ambitions.

“At the heart of this is to ensure our installers never lose out on a job as a result of not being able to supply what a customer is looking for.  In addition to the breadth of the range in todays’ market this encompasses providing a product solution for every budget. A good example of this is our flush sash options with R9 at the higher end and Halo FlushSash as a great alternative where budget is prohibitive.

“The product range continues to play a key role in our future.  Early this year the opening of our new specials division, itself more than double the size of our original factory, accommodates a great setup for the manufacture our premium products with specific processes needed.  But most importantly for the future of our business this also gives us ample capacity to incorporate any new products from trends that are yet to emerge.

“We’re now continually looking at ways to set the bar to improve standards in the industry and one key area for this is with security.  We supply the Ultion cylinder as standard on all doors, Secured by Design can be specified across over 80% of our product range and Maco Secureplus/Era 5 guarantee offers additional peace of mind for homeowners.

Of course, delivering a full range of exciting products is crucial. But these are unexpectedly troubled times. How is Glazerite dealing with the uncertainties brought about not just by Brexit, but now the wavering confidence of homeowners due to the outcome of the General Election?

“We understand that homeowner confidence is the key not just to closing a sale but for that opportunity to exist in the first place. Homeowners must trust that when they decide to invest in their homes then that their investment is safe. Part of this is the range of enhanced benefits we offer through teaming up with some of the most respected organisations in the industry, Independent Network [formerly Network Veka], Planitherm Installer Network, Maco Secure +, ERA Total Security Guarantee, VEKA and Halo Approved Installer schemes and the Ultion £1000 break in guarantee.  These are all great opportunities for our installers to instil confidence amongst their customers.

“We have also developed our own business support packages for our installer customers. This doesn’t mean having someone at the end of the phone to answer any queries as that’s a given, instead it’s about making sure our installers feel part of a much bigger company. By business support we mean our installers have access to all the management functions that any business is likely to need, but which are not enough to create their own departments. For example HR, Sales, IT, Accounts and Marketing.  Our business professionals have a wealth of industry experience in their chosen field and this is something that readily available to our customers. We provide this backing to ensure they can get on with doing what they do best.

“Of course, there is increasing emphasis on marketing, and over the last couple of years we have really focused on providing marketing support for our installers.  From the smaller sole traders to the larger trade businesses and commercial installers we have marketing tools that will work for their business. It’s not that we’re trying to teach anyone to suck eggs, but if they don’t have the resource and capability to do these things in-house, we can take the burden from them, leaving them to get on with what they should be doing. Social media and digital marketing is evolving so quickly it is difficult for any business to keep up so our customers can now tap into this resource to ensure they are able to compete.

“This is where a great deal of our energy will be focused in the next 6-12 months, with a plan to increase our marketing team by 50% and ambition to play much more of an active role in digital marketing for our customers. Despite the uncertainties ahead we will provide our customers with the resources that will enable them to develop every opportunity available, ensuring their customers have confidence to place an order with them.

The ‘secret ingredient’ we were hoping for from Jason probably doesn’t exist, at least not in a form that can be packaged up and transferred. Glazerite’s success can perhaps better be described as ‘does exactly what it says on the can’ inasmuch as whatever the company sets out to do, it does with a quiet determination and almost pathological thoroughness and focus. When a product, or concept, or scheme reaches the market it is thoroughly researched, tested and, quite simply, works. That, more than any gimmicks, is the secret behind Glazerite’s success.



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