Published On: Wed, Jul 26th, 2017

Neil Evans, Sales Director, The Veka UK Group

First Job: Insurance Claims Clerk (chief photocopier!). You were always told to join a bank or insurance company (at least you were in my house) for security.

When did you join current company: Joined Veka 31st October 2016, previously Sales Director at Velux.

Most useful/favourite gadget: Anything ‘Apple’. Even my iPod Classic still does a job 12 years later and continues to have far more capacity than I have music.

Favourite/most useful website: Generally a bit too obsessed with it but, to be fair, it has never let me down.

Business person you admire: Anyone brave enough to succeed when others said it could not be done.

Recommended hotel for business: Depends on the budget! But, of the budget chains, Premier Inn seems to have the most consistent offer.

Favourite UK restaurant: Pretty much any Indian restaurant in any UK City! Best business decision: To find ways to “say yes” to an opportunity with a multi-million pound customer when historically people had just said “no”; that “yes” was worth millions more.

Other interests: Family, supporting Newcastle United, reading true crime stories and autobiographies.


Working Day: Usually start just after 7am, most likely catching up on any emails carried forward from the night before; check diary (which is usually planned at least six weeks ahead). If I’m working in the field it will be accompanying members of the sales team visiting our customers and looking for opportunities to work better together, with some post-visit coaching to help focus. In the office (home or Burnley) I’m likely to be providing direction, analysing performance, planning activities, supporting requests from the team and challenging us to find better ways of working so that we achieve better outcomes. That could involve defining and training in new working standards. Leave the office around 6.30pm and, if staying away from home, might still be distracted by work for some of the rest of the evening. Elements of this routine will no doubt change the longer I am here.


Working Location: Located within the 400,000 ft2 Burnley operation, sharing the space with my Sales, Marketing and Network Veka colleagues. Functional office located alongside all other aspects of what makes up the company offer on-site, which is great for access and for demonstrating the whole Veka offer to customers. It never fails to impress customers. Otherwise, it is a home-office, the car, or somewhere roadside to get a wifi signal.


Veka is a family-owned Global player which is both World and UK number 1, specialising in the design and production of market-leading PVC-U window systems. 2016 represented the 30th anniversary for Veka in the UK and a solid year of business performance despite uncertainty fuelled by Brexit and rising costs, partly driven by the weakening of the pound. Coloured foiling of profile continues to grow, increasingly with different colours on internal/external finish to the point that colours now represent around 33% of sales value. All of this delivered via a 99% OTIF. Most importantly, Veka remains true to its commitment not to compete with its customers.

I am a great believer in concentrating on what you can influence and not what you can’t. In reality, even the finest economists have a range of likely outcomes from the UK leaving the EU, which translates as “we don’t really know”. I have worked in construction long enough to know that with a good, well-executed plan you can deliver results ahead of what the market does. But it takes clear thinking and really hard work… and that’s the intention at Veka. Even if market tonnage output is flat in 2017 and beyond, revenue and reputation need not be.

We have many opportunities to invest in our brand. From my time working for the roof window giant Velux, I know the difference it makes to consumers and trade partners when people in the chain care enough to ask for, or recommend, your brand and specific products by name. I also know how disappointed they can be when they have not been as well informed as they could when making such big decisions. At Veka, we have a great opportunity to significantly address that opportunity through a combination of our manufacturing credentials, our product range, our people, our delivery capability and our determination to reach trade and consumers alike. We want window systems from The Veka UK Group to mean something to more people in the market. You can see the difference it makes when consumers take an active interest. It helps them move from what might seem like a forced decision of “I need eight new windows” to an involved “I want eight new FlushSash Windows finished in Anthracite Grey”. That matters.

In my short time in this sector I have been struck by a number of things. Firstly, the whole supply chain from systems company all the way through to the end user is fairly complex. Windows from well-known window brands may or may not be fabricated by those companies and rarely will the consumer have a sense of whose window system is used. If the consumer knew more about this, how might that influence who they buy from and would that push them more towards the local independent specialists operating under, for example, the Network Veka umbrella?

Secondly, a disproportionate amount of focus seems to be on product differentiation in areas where there are features with no discernible benefits for fabricator, installer or consumer. I’ve seen this before where players in a market have had “better” features that, frankly, have never made any material difference in purchasing decisions. So, for me, I’d rather find a “benefit” that genuinely makes a difference to customers than a technical “feature” that too few people care about. In the current climate, it doesn’t seem that any of us can afford to pursue vanity projects which deliver no direct or clearly traceable commercial value. They may distract us all. My first FIT Show will no doubt be interesting in that context.

Thirdly, we are probably an under-valued industry relative to the technology, the difference our products make to customers, and the capital investment underpinning every product. Only those in the industry can change that situation with clearer communication and positive experiences that customers want to talk about. The ultimate consumer is far more curious, knowledgeable and engaged than ever in decisions that they would have previously made in an instant (or even left for someone else to decide). They are looking for an authoritative voice and examples of people just like them, living in places just like them, who have made the decisions they also plan to make. Some might see that as added complexity for all in the chain and they would be right; but without that engagement and complexity we become commoditised and unable to sustain the necessary investments to build the health of this category.

As for goals in the period ahead, I want the Veka team to retain a passion for our customers and for us to collectively get fit for the future. I want our customers to be open and constructive about their experiences and expectations of us and I want “partnership” to be authentic, not just an overused word and an underused way of working. After all, whichever part of the supply chain any of us are in, we all have a role to play to generate trust and deliver high quality solutions for the ultimate customer. Whether a Veka customer or not, always check what value you get from your supplier, what that’s really worth, and how you could secure more value while giving your supplier something they would also want. The Veka UK Group has significant ambition beyond the next 12 months. Our focus on being a specialist window systems company delivering the right solutions to our customers will be at the core of that ambition and, realistically, nothing is ruled out at this stage on how we use that specialism and ruthless focus to succeed.