Published On: Thu, Mar 26th, 2015

Gareth Thomas, Sales & Marketing Director, Atlas Glazed Roof Solutions

First job: Management accountant for cosmetic brand Revlon.

When did you join or set up current company: We established Atlas Glazed Roof Solutions in July 2012 after acquiring the assets of BDG Group Limited of Lurgan, County Armagh.

Most useful/favourite gadget: Can I say my wife of 22 years, Claire? She’s so organised and knows everything, or so she tells me!!

Favourite/most useful website: is the must-go-to place for all travel related content.

Business person you most admire: Paul Guy, Chairman of commercial property development firm PMG. I’ve known him for more than 10 years and everything he does is a success, but he’s also a great family man.

Recommended hotel for business: Either the Holiday Inn or Premier Inn.

Favourite UK restaurant: It has to be Novikov in Berkeley Street in London. The food in the Asian Gallery is always amazing and there’s a vibrant cocktail bar and club for later in the evening.

Best business decision: To proceed with the management buyout of Premier Trade Frames. It was a bold, but life changing decision.

Other interests: Spending time with my wife and our four children aged 19, 17, 13 and 7. I also enjoy rugby, golf and keeping fit. And I can mix a mean mojito!

Working Day: I spend most of my working day meeting existing and potential customers. I try and see three to four customers a day, so I start early. I’m normally up by 6am and on the road soon after for my first appointment of the day at 8.30am. My focus in meetings is always on how we can support our customers to help them increase profits and grow their businesses. My diary is becoming busier with new business calls as the Atlas brand gains momentum. I’m spending around two days a week with new customers, talking to them about our range of aluminium lanterns and conservatory roofs. There’s a great team atmosphere at Atlas and I work closely with our experienced sales and technical team. Winston Osborne, our technical director, has a remarkable knowledge of our products and our two area sales managers, John Jones and Jeff Cowley, have been successful in the industry for many years. Their drive and enthusiasm is infectious. The atmosphere within Atlas makes every day enjoyable.

Working Location: Atlas is part of the £32 million Customade Group, which supplies one of the largest ranges of fenestration products in the industry. Each division within the group is based in Gloucestershire. Our headquarters are in Stonehouse and our manufacturing, sales, marketing and administration departments are all based there.  As I’m on the road every day, my working location is generally split between my car and my office at home in Porthcawl on the south coast of Wales but I do also regularly visit our HQ for meetings.


Gareth ThomasIf the success of 2014 is anything to go by, then we can expect to have another excellent year in 2015. We’re averaging 80 roofs a week for the first quarter of this year, which is a 100% increase in output compared to the same period last year when we averaged 35-40 roofs per week. Last December was a really exciting time both for Atlas and our customers. For the first time in a long time, customers were optimistic about a more buoyant future and were encouraged to have installations booked for the first few months of the New Year. In December, we also unveiled our new Skyroom product to customers. It’s the slimmest and one of the strongest mock orangery roof systems in the industry and our customers were very enthusiastic about it.

We’re forecasting a strong and healthy period of trading over the next 12 months thanks to an improved economy and a sharp rise in demand for our aluminium lantern among consumers. And with the new Skyroom strengthening our range of aluminium conservatory roofs, orangeries and lanterns, we’re expecting this year to be our best yet. We’re projecting output to reach 130 roofs a week by the end of 2015 and I’m very confident that we’ll achieve this target. I’m extremely encouraged to see this upturn in the market. The latest Palmer Report highlighted some more positive trends for the industry, including a 40% growth in conservatory replacements, so this year should bode well for installers.

Innovation is essential to succeed in this marketplace and we are constantly looking at new products to bring to the market. Our Skyroom, for instance, has generated interest because it is one of the most luxurious and contemporary roofs available and it’s almost certainly the best performing roof in the UK. It’s proven to be both the slimmest and most attractive and, one of the strongest glazed roofing systems in the UK domestic conservatory market and, overall, the Atlas roof can achieve a u-value of as low as 1.0 W/m2k, depending on the size and style of the roof.

The Atlas Veranda is another product which has been designed with UK domestic users in mind. The bi-fold door has been one of the fastest growing products in the industry and this product has been created to enable installers to up-sell their package with an elegant, slim-line veranda. Now, homeowners can connect their home and garden and shield themselves from the British weather without restricting the flow of light. Imaginative products are clearly important, but they’re nothing without an enthusiastic network of long-term partners to promote and sell them. We have developed strong alliances with our customers and we work closely with them to identify potential opportunities. We’ve also established an Approved Installer Scheme and an Installation of the Month competition, which have both been well received by customers.

Our products are designed to bring higher profit margins for installers, helping them to secure the future for their businesses. By their very nature, our products appeal to a more discerning customer, but we ensure that they are priced to be within reach of most homeowners. We’re convinced that this combination of high product quality, fair pricing, good customer service and sales support has placed our customers at an advantage over their competitors. And judging by customer comments on the recent launch of our Skyroom, they are already reaping the benefits of this long-awaited designer style product.

Our most rewarding campaign so far has been the introduction of our stock range of lanterns. For the first time, installers could gain from a five-day turnaround on four of our most popular styles and sizes of roof lanterns in white, grey, black, grey on white and black on white. We went from selling just a handful of these stock lanterns a month to selling 15 a week because we offered a better lead time than most PVC-U conservatory roofs and at a very competitive price.

With the Federation of Master Builders recently estimating that there are around 12,000 installers and 20,000 building companies operating in the UK, competition will continue to be fierce for the foreseeable future. Installers need to adapt to changing market conditions and embrace new product developments to maximise all the opportunities that lie ahead. By aligning their businesses with the changing needs of the customer, they can protect their market share. I’m an advocate of satisfying the retail market’s needs so we’ve developed a complete sales package for our customers, which includes personalized brochures and advertisements, flyers, pull up banners and in-store displays and graphics.

Our parent group, the Customade Group, has also developed a comprehensive package to help customers sell and also to tap into complementary new product areas that they may previously have overlooked. It’s a strategy that encourages customers to broaden their horizons and think beyond the obvious. The ethos of the group and Atlas is very much about driving forward with innovation and passion and making some calculated decisions to grow organically. The installers that take considered risks will be the ones to succeed. There are some market opportunities that will help installers to develop their businesses. For instance, the colour of lantern and conservatory roofs is developing from just plain white to include black, grey, dual colours and even some more adventurous, contemporary colours. And, as homeowners crave more space at the back of their homes for more open-plan living, there is a growing demand for contemporary lean-to style products.

So what does the future hold for Atlas? We’ve taken the Atlas name from infancy and established a very loyal customer base in a relatively short period of time. My mission this year will be to make the Atlas brand even more successful and for the Atlas roof to be known as the best available roof within the UK conservatory, orangery and home improvement market. And on to broader horizons, I’m keen to strengthen our export links too. We’ve already generated interest for our products in the USA, Japan, Dubai and China and I see no reason why this shouldn’t continue. Who knows, we could be plotting whole new target areas in the atlas for Atlas!

Tel: 02838 327741 or visit: