That is the challenge from Danny Williams, whose Gerda entrance doors offer a serious alternative to conventional composites.
The choice of composite residential entrance doors in the UK market is, apparently, comprehensive. But they do tend to follow a very similar construction formula of GRP skins, over a timber frame; and either a timber core or more often than not, insulated with PU foam. The differences are actually even fewer, says Pioneer Trading’s Danny Williams: “The vast majority of door slabs are imported from the Far East by three companies, with a couple of other brands dominating doorset supply. Much of the difference between most of the resi doors out there is in the brand,” he says.
Danny has been discussing his reasons for launching Gerda Engineered doors in the UK, becoming exclusive distributor for the brand that in mainland Europe, is well known and trusted. He reflects on what drove him to discover Gerda: “Many of the UK door brands offer decent quality although, a couple of those with the most powerful marketing presence, created significant issues for me as a fabricator and supplier to retail installers. So I did what I always do – seek an alternative.”
In doing so, he realised how little product differential there was: “Everything was ‘me too’, remembered Danny, “nothing really stood out. But we had this Polish-door fitter, Kamil, working for us at the time who kept on about this product that he had fitted dozens of, he said, and people loved them, and they were always perfect, and so on. And then our Operations Director Ray [Sinclair] chipped in that he knew the people at Gerda in Poland…and so I got in touch.”
Two things became obvious early on, explained Danny: “They are not the mainstream resi door that I originally went looking for; but they were totally different to anything else available in the UK…and the best engineered door that I had ever seen and touched. I had to have them…”
The difference is quite literally skin deep: “They are faced with steel or aluminium, on an aluminium chassis. This gives the doors a superb weight and feel that is simply not there with conventional composite doors. They need to be in showrooms…that is a prerequisite for installers that want to sell Gerda. The effect on homeowners trying resi doors in showrooms is that they will try the conventional door…then Gerda…and the difference is tangible,” insists Danny. “I have seen it many times now and customers will often trade up to a Gerda door, prepared to spend significantly more than on a conventional door.”
The price point is therefore upper mid-market, for which buyers will also enjoy significantly higher thermal and security performance. The class leading Gerda Altus door for example boasts an 88mm depth, three chamber reinforced aluminium internal construction with PU cores, with FUHR multi point security lock and hardware located into reinforced aluminium outer frames. Such features are typical across the range. An emphasis on security comes from Gerda enjoying a position as one of mainland Europe’s leading brands of locks and security hardware.
Thermal performance is also in the realms of that now being anticipated as a minimum requirement of the keenly anticipated Future Homes Standard that will determine building product performance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2025. Both the steel and aluminium faced Gerda doors offer thermal transmittance as low as 0.74 W/m2K for solid doors and 0.81 W/m2K for glazed versions, which is at or below the numbers being widely speculated for Future Homes. However, it is highly likely that the home improvement standards that are expected to follow, will be comfortably met by these figures, whilst few if any of the standard 44mm doors currently available in the UK, are likely to survive.
Danny’s Gerda Doors distributorship is in its second year of operation in the UK, allowing a real-world view of their reception by homeowners: “We have a decent geographical coverage throughout the UK and Ireland and, after facing such issues in my past, I will protect the territories of the installers we appoint. Gerda doors are a premium product and are rewarding our retail installers with excellent upsells. They tell me that buyers try out the doors, play with the locks, and of course, they know they are looking at something different. But…they are often surprised that the premium is so reasonable, for the additional quality and features. The market response has been superb,” says Danny.
And whilst Gerda doors have not provided the mainstream alternative he set out to find originally, Danny has halted that search: “I think I was driven by frustration and even anger,” he admits. “And whilst there are so many brands and mainstream composites, it would have been swimming against the tide. I am focusing on Gerda now, as it offers something that is so immediately different, the doors sell themselves. It’s now important that we provide our installer customers and in turn, their customers, with faultless service.”