Published On: Mon, Sep 14th, 2020

Continuing to grow the awareness of aluminium

A few weeks into his new role as MD at AluFoldDirect, Russell Yates talked to Active about his move from AluK and his plans for AluFoldDirect

After a successful 17 years at AluK, Russell Yates has taken the position of Managing Director at AluFoldDirect. Just a few weeks in, he is already seeing the benefits of being a fabricator and working more closely with installers.

Russell explained: “At a systems company level, it felt like you were always trying to talk through too many layers in the supply chain. But as a fabricator, you have a real opportunity to listen and understand exactly what installers need. Our industry is built on relationships and those conversations are going to be vital for us as we work to increase the exposure for aluminium at a consumer level.

“That’s the real opportunity for our customers and it’s very exciting. AluFoldDirect is the perfect vehicle to grow awareness of aluminium. By delivering the right combination of product choice, speed and service to the installer market, we can give them the confidence to offer aluminium as the first choice for homeowners. It’s a model I’ve seen work really well in other countries across Europe.”

Personal ambition also contributed to Russell’s decision to join AluFoldDirect. Becoming a shareholder and playing a bigger part in the management and direction of a business had been a big pull for him, and he has taken over from founder Craig Miller, who has moved to the non-executive role of Chairman.

The Covid-19 crisis delayed Russell’s move from AluK to AluFoldDirect by a few months, giving the businesses consistent leadership that was crucial for them both through lockdown. It has meant a very busy start for Russell, who joined AluFoldDirect as they reopened for business in May. Talking about his first few weeks at the factory in Blackburn, it’s clear that Russell is already making an impact.

“It’s exciting coming into this new, fast-paced environment,” Russell continued. “A small change can have a really positive impact for a customer. AluFoldDirect is an agile business. We can adapt quickly and that has been crucial as we returned to manufacturing the Everything Aluminium range and delivering certainty to customers.

“We have implemented a ‘Safe Space’ policy in the factory, so every member of the team has their own safe area where they work, and if they have to leave that space for any reason, then they wear appropriate PPE.

“As the environment and guidance around Covid is constantly changing, having a team that is really focussed and adaptable to change is vital, so that we can deliver the best service and support for customers.”

Speed and service are still set to be the absolute focus for AluFoldDirect, who have provided customers with a wide range of products and a service proposition of 1 week unglazed, 2 weeks glazed, transforming the way installers buy aluminium windows and doors.

Russell added: “From a supplier perspective, I have seen how AluFoldDirect has succeeded in transforming the market by offering an industry-leading service proposition, right from the early days. Now we need to look at the new opportunities.

“The market is receptive to aluminium, especially with the level of growth over the last few years. We want to help installers get into new areas, whilst maintaining that winning combination of product choice, speed and service. AluFoldDirect has the management team and staff to successfully take us into this next phase of development. The plan is to take this well-oiled machine, build on the service levels and broaden the product range to help installers get into new channels and promote aluminium as the first choice for end-users.”