Published On: Tue, Nov 7th, 2023

Nick Cooper, Technical Director, AluK

Facts and Figures:

First job: I was an apprentice for six years at Jonwindows, a subsidiary of Cardiff’s John Williams steel group. Established in 1881, by the time I started, they’d already been fabricating windows for almost 100 years!

When did you join current company: I joined AluK in 2013. Before that, I’d spent 27 years in a variety of design and technical roles at Glamalco, which was one of the biggest fabricators in the UK at the time, and I’d set up the aluminium fabrication division within the BSW Group.

Most useful/favourite gadget: I’m a late-night music listener so it would have to be a pair of my Focal headphones. 

Favourite/most useful website: Along the same line as the headphones, it’s Qobuz – my high-res music streaming service of choice.

Favourite restaurant for business: When we have colleagues from the AluK Group over with us, I like to take them to The Priory in Caerleon. They do a fantastic sea bass in rock salt.

Businessperson you admire: It’s not really a businessperson, but certainly it’s the person who inspired me in business. Len Williams was my metalwork teacher at high school, and he was the person who instilled in me my lifelong passion for construction and making things.

What lesson have you learnt about business over the last 12 months: Probably that you can’t rely on historical data any longer. Covid and its aftermath continues to take us into ‘unchartered territory’ every day, so I think it’s made getting your short-term planning right even more vital than ever.

Working Week:

Despite the fact that AluK now has a flexible working policy, I still like to be in the office every day. (My office at home is the kitchen table and there are far too many distractions there!) As well as technical support to customers, my role encompasses all of AluK’s product testing and validation, our Academy and training programme, and our commercial projects work. Unsurprisingly, much of my day is spent in Teams meets with co-directors, members of my team or colleagues from across the AluK group on strategy and planning. However, I always schedule face to face meetings with the three heads of department who report directly to me when they are in the office, because I think we work much better that way. 

Working Location:

I work in our impressive 350,000 ft² Chepstow HQ. When the building opened in 2017, it was named Workplace Design of the Year at the Insider Wales Property Awards and it’s not hard to see why. A really efficient factory layout, lots of natural light in the offices and plenty of meeting and break out spaces make it a nice environment to work in.It’s a 30-mile journey for me from my home in Cardiff though so I tend to get in early and leave fairly late to miss the worst of the notorious M4 traffic.


Like the rest of the industry, AluK did well during Covid. Our strength in the trade and resi market and the fact that there was no mass furloughing of our staff meant we were in a great position to help our customers win business. We even won the first of our G-Award’s for Customer Care for the marketing support package we put together to help fabricators make the most of the opportunities after the first lockdown.

It’s obviously a slightly different picture in 2023, with high inflation and high interest rates suppressing retail demand in comparison to the last couple of years. The aluminium market is still considerably more robust than mainstream PVC-U though, and we’re certainly still on budget for the year ahead.

More support

As always, there’s considerable pressure on systems companies to provide even more support to customers when the market slows and, from my technical perspective, that’s coming in the form of more options for validated Part L and Future Homes solutions, more help on winning commercial project work and more cross border work with other companies in the AluK Group to bring new products into the UK market.

We’ve also uprated our customer portal this year so that it contains even more useful data and we’re reviewing our Academy offering to maximise the value for customers.

Future Homes

Obviously, from a validation point of view, I’m still heavily involved in our response to the changes to the Building Regs – and as the 2025 Future Homes deadline looms ever closer, that’s something which continues to drive our wider product development programme. 

I no longer sit on the CAB or CWCT committees, but I’m proud to have passed that baton on to our Head of Process and Certification, Dale Pegler, who is now very much at the heart of the discussions and helping to formulate the industry’s response to the impending changes within those groups and with the GGF. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for systems companies to be collectively involved at this level and AluK is certainly one of the leading voices. Any changes to our products mean large investment which we have to forecast and budget for. We have to know as soon as possible what will be required in order to provide practical and cost-effective  solutions for our customers in time.

What’s important to remember at this point though is that, while there is much talk about what Future Homes will look like – with predicted U-Values for windows somewhere around 0.8, we are still awaiting the consultation. It also of course, will only apply to the new build market initially, and we don’t yet know what implications there will be for the trade and resi market.

Reassurance for customers

What AluK customers need to know though is that in the UK, and as a wider global Group, we are planning and investing to make sure that we will have solutions that comply. My technical team are already carrying out numerous calculations and simulations on different product configurations to demonstrate current compliance with the target U-Values, and we’re doing things like introducing new higher performing insulating materials for our thermal breaks to deliver future enhancements with minimum disruption to customers.

We obviously won our second G-Award for Customer Care in 2022 for our package of support for customers on Part L, so I think customers can be reassured that they are in safe hands with AluK.

Increasing commercial capacity

In terms of project support, our focus for 2023 continues to be on helping to secure specifications for AluK products. As our commercial customers know all too well though, some of these projects have a very long gestation period so we’re unlikely to see the results of this effort until 2024. However, we do have several large-scale projects starting this year and we’re always looking to increase fabrication capacity for our commercial installations.

AluK special projects

I’m a member of the AluK Group special projects team. While much of what we do in the technical department in the UK is, by necessity, fairly reactive and in response to legislation, demand and market conditions, there is still an overarching drive at Group level to be more proactive and creative in our thinking.

It’s not just about developing new products, but also about reviewing processes, identifying new opportunities and sharing new solutions. Doing that with colleagues from business units in other countries and who are facing different market challenges will, I’m sure, deliver positive outcomes for us here in the UK. 

Looking ahead, I’m conscious that as I approach retirement in a few years, I want to leave the technical department in very safe hands.  We’re a very strong team already and our individual strengths complement each other. However, I’ve got as much passion for my job as ever, so I’m not about to put myself out of a job anytime soon.