Published On: Tue, Jun 30th, 2020

Clare O’Hara, Managing Director of Epwin Window Systems

First Job: Development Chemist in Marine Development at Castrol Oil.
Most useful/favourite gadget: My iPhone – it’s like a portable office.
Favourite/most useful website: Am I allowed an app? I’m trying to follow a plant-based diet and I love the Vegan Scan app, which scans bar codes and identifies whether they’re suitable for a vegan diet.
Business person you admire: I’ve been lucky enough to work with some inspirational people in this industry over the years – I’ve learned a lot from them and continue to admire them. I won’t name them because they’re too modest – but they’ll know who they are!
Recommended hotel for business: I prefer to meet customers at their own premises or – even better – invite them to see our premises in Telford so they can see our investment and how much we have to offer.
Favourite UK restaurant: We have some really good country pubs near my home in Shropshire, and I always enjoy a really good meal at one of those. But I’m still on the lookout for a good vegan restaurant. If anyone knows one, please let me know!
Best business decision: Without a doubt, joining Epwin. It’s a market-leading company with a proud history of UK investment and innovation and a genuinely visionary outlook. I’m lucky to be leading a superbly talented team.
Other interests: I’ve supported GM Fundraising since 2017 and officially joined the team in 2019. I initiated Paddle2Pedal, the first endurance event for women in the fenestration industry, and will be doing the next event in August, which is Peak, Paddle, Pedal. I’m humbled by the extraordinary support Hope House offers and proud to help raise vital funds for its work.

Working Day: As Managing Director of Epwin Window Systems I’m
fortunate to be part of a strong and motivated team. My role is to enable everyone in the business to drive change, investment and innovation and deliver on our ambitions. My commercial background means I also understand how important it is for us to be close to our customers. Epwin Window Systems is a very customer-focused company so I make it a priority to talk to customers and visit them to understand fully their needs.
In practice, what this means is that about 80% of my time is spent at our head office in Telford. When I’m in the office I’m attending various project meetings to get updates and discuss the latest plans to continue to take the business forward. It’s always busy because Epwin Windows Systems is a very future-focused business, which I personally enjoy. The rest of my time is spent with customers either at their premises or meeting them at Epwin Window Systems’ head office.

Working Location: Epwin Window Systems’ headquarters is a modern manufacturing plant with meeting rooms, showroom and on-site extrusion facilities. It will soon be joined by a state-of-the-art distribution centre nearby in Telford. We continue to adopt many modern manufacturing principles so we can lead the industry and set new benchmarks for excellence.

The Interview….

The fenestration industry is a very exciting place to be and I believe that the UK still offers the very best in window and door design and product manufacture. Our experience is that the market is very robust and as a business we’re in a great position to help our customers capitalise on this.

Award-winning products – Epwin Window Systems has a complete range of products across PVC-U and aluminium. It means our customers can compete in every area. Our products support all markets, whether it’s retail, trade, new build or commercial. They also support all market trends, whether it’s the demand for high value products with flush casement windows or our market-leading vertical slider or the appeal of large glazed areas with PatioMaster doors. The most recent example of our ability to support our customers in meeting market trends is our double award-winning aluminium door and window system Stellar, designed for the retail and light commercial sectors.

New Product of the Year – To say it’s taken the market by storm would be an understatement. It has already won New Product of the Year at the G Awards (and the marketing team scooped Promotional Campaign of the Year for its launch too, making it a double award winner). And early adopters are saying that it feels like aluminium systems should have always been this way. To design the system we went back to the drawing board. We listened to what our customers needed and refused to compromise on delivering on them. It’s the first aluminium system to offer a genuinely fully flush casement window and the slimline flush casement window has the slimmest sightlines on the market. It’s also up to 20% quicker to fabricate, uses 30% less aluminium and has knock-in glazing beads that make it easier to install. But this is only the beginning – watch this space for further developments in 2020.

List of success stories – We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with Stellar so far, but it’s really just the latest in the list of success stories.
In 2016, we launched Optima from Profile 22, and that won the New Product of the Year too. It’s the most considered PVC-U system on the market and was designed to give our customers everything they need to compete. It’s suitable for all markets and that’s reflected in our sales – the system has helped us grow market share since its launch.

A commitment to investment – Product development and innovation as seen in Stellar and Optima is just one example of our commitment to investment in the business and delivering for our customers. In 2019 we increased our extrusion capacity by 40% and we are about to open a brand new, 300,000 ft2 state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution centre in Telford. We’ve also invested in colour to help our customers tap into the growth of colour. We increased foiling capacity by 30% last year and we have recently taken delivery of the world’s first Luna R automatic profile wrapping machine, which takes foiling to the next level by reducing set up times and providing additional capacity and product accuracy. And watch this space for the launch of a new and improved colour offering early in 2020 too!

A commitment to our people – Of course, investment and innovation in business is nothing without a great team of exceptional people who are committed to helping you achieve your goals. That’s exactly what we have in the Epwin team. Some of our team have been with us for over 20 years and we continue to attract some of the most talented people in the industry. This mix says a lot about what Epwin Window Systems has to offer employees. And in just the same way as we never take our customers for granted, we never take our people for granted either. We emphasise engagement and communication at all levels of the business. We also emphasise people development. It’s an area I’m heavily involved in because I’m passionate about people development – I believe there is always an opportunity to develop and improve, whoever you are. Some people will be happy where they are. Others will still be ambitious. Our role as an employer is to ensure every member of staff remains fulfilled and empowered, no matter where they want to go in the business.

Looking to the future – The products, the people, the innovation, the investment and the commitment to continual improvement means I’m looking forward to continuing to develop our success. Combined with our track record, which stretches back over 40 years, it means we have the strength and security to enter the new decade equipped to continue to meet and exceed our ambitions.