Published On: Mon, Oct 19th, 2015

David Firmager, Managing Director of TruFrame Trade Frames

First job: Apprentice plumber for a well-respected local building company.

When did you join or set up current company: In 1991 my father and I started Crown Windows, a retail business in Melton Mowbray, which is still performing well today. The poor quality of PVC-U frames at the time forced us into setting up TruFrame in 1994.

Most useful/favourite gadget: iPhone without question. It’s evolved consistency over the years and we now use them company wide.

Favourite/most useful website: for my football team and for my other passion…

Business person you admire: It’s clichéd but nonetheless it would have to be Richard Branson. He’s been able to extend the reach of the Virgin brand both internationally and across an incredibly diverse product range.

Recommended hotel for business: Any Premier Inn, it represents both dependable quality and value for money.

Favourite UK restaurant: Turners of Harborne; it’s an award-winning Michelin starred restaurant on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Best business decision: Without question starting TruFrame and standing by our beliefs, own product accreditations and with our own product development programme.

Other interests: In my spare time I’m a greyhound breeder, hence listed on my favourites. We also sponsor several races each year.

Working Day: I’m an early riser by nature and so I’m in the office by 7am at the very latest, though I have in the past been in regularly at 5am. I find this the most important part of the day for me, as it allows me to plan the day ahead, review performance in terms of production and deliveries and catch up on any other messages. Thanks to our IT system, which we have heavily customised and developed in-house, I can review everything from the click of a mouse at any time of the day and even see the orders coming in. By 9am when the phones typically start ringing and the e-mails come in, I’m fully prepared for the day ahead generally without any issues from the previous day to deal with, which is important for any pro-active and customer-centric business.

Working Location: While I can pick up my e-mails on the move, along with monitoring company performance, there’s nothing better than being in the office and at the hub of everything that is happening. While our IT system has revolutionised the way in which we work, we have distinct family values and that’s why my office is always open for any one of our employees. With over 60% of all orders likely to be online within the next 18 months, I still maintain that one to one relationships are paramount and that’s why I’m equally happy talking to our customers day or even night.


David Firmager-TruFrame-2015Our success over the last 21 years still makes me sit up to this day, as we manufacture in excess of 3,000 frames each and every week and hand finish them with our unique 4-step process. During this period much has changed in the industry in terms of legislation and regulation and with it product development. I would suggest we sometimes underestimate the capabilities of our industry in offering consumers great products. It’s perhaps the reputation of the few that have affected the many.

Our last 12 months have been incredibly successful for us as a business and this year we’re looking to increase turnover by 13.5% with an EBITDA of 12.6%. Our customers remain loyal thanks to what is arguably the most energy-efficient window in the UK market at present, thanks to the six-chambered Liniar EnergyPlus profiles we use, while our Secured by Design products provide customers with an additional selling edge. Unlike most other large fabricators, we remain purely focused on PVC-U manufacturing, rather than getting distracted with too many other products, materials and processes.

Home Remodelling – This time round, the General Election fever did little to hamper sales and the general conditions in the marketplace look very good indeed with inflation at just 0.1%, partially due to the reduction in crude oil barrel prices, which are now at a 5-year low. Consumers are eager to invest in home improvement products to satisfy the need for additional security and better product design and as a nation we’re actively investing in our homes with 2nd and even 3rd generation PVC-U. The typical American model of remodelling homes I believe is becoming more of a norm in the UK, as the lack of available property and the cost of moving house resulting in many of us staying put and investing in what we’ve already got.

With market conditions now on a firm footing, we’ve put into place a 5-year plan that will see us challenge route to market in a number of ways, alongside a product development programme that will set us apart from others. We’ve always challenged convention as our unique 4-step hand finishing process to our frames shows and this is something that’s very much in our DNA and helps drive innovation.

Delivering Innovation – One of the most impressive results of our product development programme has been the launch of our flush sash window, which is the first of its kind to carry Secured by Design, like all our window products. But we’ve taken this product further with the Refine brand, which is a fully mechanically jointed flush sash window, with a unique milled astragal bar. Much has gone into this in terms of product design, but also production methodologies and it will be a traditional, period window for the masses. While new-build companies may be attracted with our standard flush sash window, we believe Refine will attract consumers from the timber segment and discerning homeowners wanting a more added value product.

The fact that we’ve been early adopters by taking on board Liniar as our profile partner has enabled us to offer a PVC-U window with six chambers, in both a chamfered and sculptured design, which in turn helps our customers benefit from lower glass specifications for the Window Energy ratings. ‘A’ and ‘A+’ rated windows are easier to achieve while our product is relatively future proof, given the expectation for changes in years to come in Document L, Building Regulations.

More recently, we’ve introduced the 3-Star Ultion lock from Brisant-Secure for our composite door range, which is one of just three never to be broken by the Master Locksmith’s Association, with us being the first company in the UK to make this a free product upgrade. We believe as a diligent manufacturer we should support our customers with the very latest and best performing hardware, it helps them sell more products at an increased margin, so it’s good news for all!

We’ve been championing online ordering for the last 5 years and at present it amounts to 40% of all orders, with the goal to make this 60% in the next 18 months, making us in effect open 24/7. We’ve even adopted our own IT department so we can fully develop the system to our most exacting of needs and develop this on an on-going basis as we find better ways in which to work.

Polished Marketing – We’ve built a new marketing department that will be able to deliver everything from brochure and print design, to internet presence. My son Patrick heads this department up, though his broad understanding of the business means he’s involved in other aspects of TruFrame, having spent considerable time in all areas of the business. The department is working on new marketing materials for the company at the moment, including printed and point-of-sale materials for the Refine brand. Our existing window, door and conservatory bible has now stretched to 68 pages and is a perfect reference point for consumers and retail salesmen, as our experience with Crown Windows shows. While we’ll be challenging route to market in the coming years, we are also taking a distinctly different direction with our Double Glazing Network, which is a lead generation vehicle that doesn’t carry the extra badges and criteria that other schemes employ, so we’ve kept it simple.

Innovate, Invest and Attract – While we have the resources and capabilities to continually invest in our business, we’re finding that many smaller fabricators don’t – particularly those that also install. We’ve been able to put changeover packages in place that allows them to focus on what they do best and not worry about machinery repairs, carrying stock of new colours and other business issues. Many have also taken up the opportunity to order online and the transformation in their respective businesses has been considerable.

At TruFrame we’ll continue to invest in all aspects of our business under our new 5-year plan that will include new products, customer service initiatives, new routes to market and ways in which to engage the consumer. I’m a firm believer that to stand still is to go backwards and so the ongoing development as TruFrame as a business will see our sales continue to grow, while our customers will also benefit from better margins and the re-assurance they are dealing with one of the most forward thinking PVC-U manufacturers in the UK. To contact Truframe please call: 01664 410 140