Pro Installer December 2019 - Issue 81 - Page 15

DECEMBER 2019 | 15 News Read online at “THERE’S NOT MUCH THAT CAN RENDER ME SPEECHLESS – BUT THIS WINDOW COMPANY BLEW ME AWAY” Andy Jones, new Group Managing Director at Victorian Sliders, tells the story of how he joined Europe’s biggest sash window manufacturer – and why he’s confident it can help thousands of UK installers make more margin and break into lucrative new markets. When Scot Starkey, CEO of Victorian Sliders, first asked me to come and work for him, I admit, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work for a window manu- facturer. But I know and like Scot, so decided to at least do him the courtesy of going to discuss it in person. I drove down to see him – and I drove back as Group Managing Director of Eu- rope’s biggest sash window company. I obviously knew about Victorian Sliders. I knew it was a major player in the UK sash window market, filling a lucrative niche by providing high volumes and consistent quality, and helping thousands of installers enter a growth market. What I didn’t appreci- ate was the sheer scale of what Scot and the Victorian Sliders team have achieved over the last decade. In an unassuming ex-mining village in Carmarthenshire, they’ve built a world-class fenestration business - and now, the industry is sitting up and taking notice. At a purpose-built 240,000 square-foot facility, they don’t just make in excess of 2,000 windows a week – after investing nearly ten million pounds in state-of-the-art technolo- gy, they can do much more than that. Victorian Sliders extrude their own profile. They make their own sealed units. They toughen their own glass. They do all their own profile bending. They’ve got seven depots all around the country. They’ve got their own spray booth, allowing them to produce windows in whatever RAL colour a customer requests. And they even have their own recycling plant. No other UK sash window company can do all that. It quickly became clear to me that Victorian Sliders was a fantastic business that was on the cusp of something incredible – and I knew I wanted to be a part of the next phase in its history. Helping installers capi- talise on the sash window boom Now, I’m in an immense- ly privileged position for the second time in my career. Previously at Edgetech, I was able to play a part in taking warm-edge technol- ogy from niche to main- stream – when I joined, less than 1% of the market used warm-edge spacers. Today, that’s risen to more than 80%. At Victorian Sliders, I now have the opportunity to do the same with verti- cal sliding windows. What many people don’t realise is that approximate- ly 50% of the country’s ex- isting housing stock started out with box sash win- dows. With half of Britain’s homes being designed to have sash windows, some would argue they don’t look right without them. In the ‘80s and ‘90s, many of those houses had their beautiful sash windows ripped out and replaced with cheap looka- like casements. At Victorian Sliders, our challenge is to bring those properties back to their former glory. Already, we’re seeing more and more homeowners take out those white uPVC win- dows and replace them with higher value, more aestheti- cally pleasing products. They’re treating win- dows more like furniture, and looking for something characterful and different – something that reflects the feel of their property, or their own sense of style. And that’s why they love sash windows. They’ve got a vintage elegance that casements just can’t match. We’re also seeing increas- ing demand in new-build, where builders of all sizes are looking to increase that all-important curb appeal. While Mr and Mrs Smith want something with visual appeal, installers want something that’s great val- ue, offers high margins and is simple to install. At Victorian Sliders, we offer the best of both – the price difference between one of our products and the same sized casement window is less than £100 - and in the years ahead, we want to help thousands more installers break into one of the most lucrative markets that modern glass and glazing has to offer. Our industry is chang- ing, fast. We’ve seen this with the drastic increase in bifolds, foiled windows and other value-added products in recent years – and at Vic- torian Sliders, we believe we can help make vertical sliders mainstream again.