Published On: Mon, Jun 20th, 2016

Dan Gill, MD of Residence Systems & Window Widgets

First Job: Apprenticeship with MOD – Naval Architecture.

When did you set up current company: 2001.

Most useful/favourite gadget: 3D printer and iPhone.

Favourite/most useful website: Ebay!

Business person you admire: A guy I worked with at Rehau called Chris Betts. The way he broke the decision-making process down and made it so obvious and logical was incredible to watch (I sat outside his office).

Recommended hotel for business: 131 in Cheltenham. It’s OK for business, relaxing on your own and you can take your wife there for a weekend!

Favourite UK restaurant: Isabels in Poole. It’s French, furnished like your Gran lives in a chemist but it’s charming. Fab service and food. Best business decision: Do something. Even my worst ideas have eventually proven better than doing nothing!

Other interests: Classic and performance cars.


Working Day: I work away from home which means that I always wake up in a hotel. I have a rule that I never leave for the office until I’ve made a decision about something. I love getting to the office and listening to the creative ideas of our marketing team and I still like to think of clever or disruptive designs. Our operations team is delivering spectacular results as we transform into a medium-size company, and I love seeing the changes. Daily management figures are released before we leave in the evening so I generally study these at the hotel, leaving a clear mind for the next day to be more creative. Working away from home is ideal in many ways because I can work as late as I need to without pressure to be home. So I generally work late and use at least one or two evenings a week to catch up. It means I enjoy the weekend with a clearer mind.

Working Location: We now have 76,000 ft2 near the Gloucester junction of the M5. The offices are modern and feature some excellent showrooms. We have a great boardroom and all rooms have overhead projection, enabling staff to communicate and present ideas easily. Our in-house workshops and design facilities are on the same site which mean we can design, prototype and test new ideas easily. We’ve been there five years and have just signed a fresh lease after securing an additional unit next door. My first floor office has windows overlooking the production facilities which keeps employees keen!


The Interview

Dan Gill, MDA few years ago, I recognised a gap in the market. Homeowners with homes in conservation areas were having to replace rotting, energy-inefficient timber windows with new timber windows because that’s what they thought planners wanted. So they would ‘upgrade’ their high-maintenance timber windows for similar high-priced, high-maintenance timber windows with poor energy efficiency. It wasn’t much of an upgrade. So, I looked into what planners really want. It isn’t timber. In fact, it isn’t a material. Planners want windows that maintain the original character of the property. They have to look right and they need to look like traditional windows. But they don’t have to perform like traditional windows. Low maintenance, high energy efficiency and high performance are OK! An opportunity!

Planners refer to an ‘Article 4’ direction relevant to their conservation area, so I picked four regions and had a look at these directions. Although they vary slightly by area, ‘Article 4’ directions are very similar, and have details and drawings of how windows are supposed to be. The character is in the dimensions, detailing and sightlines, not in the material the windows are made from. That’s why planners hate shiny white PVC-U windows that were for post-war housing. They just don’t look right. But, what if there was a window system that meant homeowners in conservation areas could have all the performance and maintenance benefits of PVC-U, with all the character their timber windows have? That challenge was the start of my journey to R9!

Residence 9 is a composite system designed to create windows the way they’re meant to be. R9 matches the dimensions and detailing drawn in the ‘Article 4’ directions to within an eighth of an inch, so it’s exactly what planners want, and it looks outstanding. It has outstanding performance too. R9 has nine chambers, so it achieves A++ energy ratings without resorting to expensive glass to achieve it. So with R9 homeowners of conservation properties can have the low maintenance, high performance windows that anyone else can have. And they can maintain the character of their property without the huge commitment to a lifetime’s costly maintenance that timber windows demand. Modern projects can also benefit from a beautiful traditional look without compromising on performance.

The window systems market – We launched Residence 9 at the FIT Show 2013 and it started to change the market. It’s accepted wisdom in the industry that price limits everything and sets a ceiling that dictates the cost of components and what homeowners will pay. But right from the first month, enthusiastic R9 installers had crashed through the ceiling. They proved conclusively that if you offer homeowners beautiful top performance windows – windows the way they’re meant to be – homeowners will happily pay two to three times the price of bland shiny white PVC-U windows for windows that transform their home. Residence 9 is different to other window systems. It is colour personified, and foiled inside and out as standard. It’s flush outside and decorative inside, and beautiful whichever way you look at it. Most people easily categorise car brands as budget, middle or premium. A Daewoo is budget, Ford in the middle, and BMW premium. The industry does the same with window systems. Now Residence 9 has created a new super-premium sector for windows, the equivalent of Aston Martin in cars.

R9 has grown explosively and last year I had to make a choice. Either we slowed down product development, or I sold part of the business to get a cash injection to grow and invest. And in April last year we became part of DW3 Products Group, which is now Solidor, Nice Door Panels, Window Widgets, and Residence Systems. It’s given us the financial backing to push R9 to the next level, so 2016 is set to be a big year. Everyone is talking about the FIT Show in April, and we’re no exception. We’ve booked one of the largest stands to display all our new products, because the industry has seen nothing like them. I believe our new windows will unleash installers’ creativity, giving them the tools to transform the market. We’re very excited by them, and the fabricators and installers who’ve seen the prototypes and plans are as excited as we are.

Innovative products & customer support – We’re not leaving everything to the FIT Show. We’ve a new Plantation Blind to fit R9 windows. It’s an easy-to-install shutter option that clips into an R9 window and foiled to match. It provides privacy without the hefty cost and permanence of normal shutters. Homeowners can easily clip the blind in and out of the window, so it can be cleaned, removed for the summer, or as required. They’re versatile and look stunning. And R9 isn’t just product. We’re working on how best to support customers too. Our consumer marketing strategy is increasing the number of leads we generate for our customers by 10% every month on average, a fast compound growth rate. We’re getting the R9 story out to consumers on social media and press, and they love it.

On homeowners and installers can use our window designer to see what a difference R9 makes to properties of a similar style to theirs. They can try colour combinations too. Homeowners can choose the style and colour they want and take it to the installer they find using the postcode search on the R9 website. And installers can use it as a sales tool. It’s really easy to use. 2016 – 2016 is a milestone year for us. More homeowners are asking for R9, so more installers are looking for it. Fabricators are excited, seeing a huge opportunity for them. It’s a big forecast, but I think we’ll be firing the starting gun on the biggest change to window and door systems in the last 20 years. Installers will be particularly excited because they can offer homeowners a choice that will transform their homes and open new markets. Be prepared, innovation is coming.

For more about Residence 9 call 01452 300912 or visit, follow @residence9 or search #R9Journey.