Published On: Wed, Jan 13th, 2016

The changing of the guard

humanIf an Englishman’s home is indeed his castle, it looks as if 2015 has been the year when he has been pampering his most prized possession. The latest data from the various trade bodies and market research organisations point to a year that has seen the continued growth of the Private ‘Repair, Maintenance and Improvement’ sector. In its latest ‘State of Trade Survey’ for Q3 2015, the Federation of Master Builders highlighted the Private RMI sector as the star performer with it remaining in positive territory for the ninth successive quarter. 35% of firms also expected workloads to increase. The only real concern was the growing skills shortage that is hampering many sectors within the construction industry.

Human resources have always been a key element to the success of a building-related sector. Attracting a constant flow of labour has always been challenging, and many installation firms in the window industry have reported problems attracting staff. However, what has been evident, and a characteristic of 2015, has been the refreshing of the talent pool in the fenestration sector. Many major component suppliers, and to a lesser extent, larger fabrication companies, have witnessed a ‘changing of the guard’. Management teams that have been in place since the ‘80s and ‘90s have moved aside to make way for a new generation of industry professionals with new ideas and dynamism that will drive the sector further forward. I still remain sceptical about the true benefit of social media and business, but Linkedin has become very influential in its role as a key recruitment tool. Using it, you can track a large number of construction professionals who have migrated to the window, door and conservatory sector, bringing with them fresh ideas and energy. When this is pooled with the already existing talent we have within the industry, there is real reason for optimism.

The attractiveness of the fenestration sector is paramount to the continual delivery of innovation. By attracting the best talent, manufacturers can then realise their desire for new and innovative products. We’ve had bi-fold doors, composite doors and orangeries, but we are now looking beyond these and this is being facilitated by the latest crop of product designers and sales & marketing professionals. Latest trends point to the growth of skylights and solid roofs for the next generation of conservatories that can truly challenge the extension market. 2016 will see a number of high profile PVC-U product investments, while hardware will continue its impressive track record with innovation. Is central locking for homes getting a step nearer? I believe the sector is in good hands and will continue to inspire Englishmen to keep pampering their castles with new PVC-U and aluminium windows, composite doors, bi-fold doors, next generation conservatories and allied products.

John Cowie – Editor