Founder director at The Joinery Network, Owen Dare discusses how joinery manufacturers can benefit from selling to newbuild developers and trade installation companies. With more than 35 years’ experience in the industry, joinery expert Owen is Managing Director at OT Dare Joinery Consultants.

Testing times

When I talk to joinery manufacturers often the top subject is about how to sell good quality timber windows and doors into newbuild developers and trade installation companies. Companies want the opportunity to make and sell more, but we continue to see PVCu and aluminium windows and doors take the lion’s share of the work. We know that timber is a far superior product, it will outlast even the best PVCu and it comes with all the environmental credentials that we know homeowners want.
The issue for many of these joinery manufacturers is that getting to sell into these markets requires accreditations, which can be costly. The upfront investment in testing is huge and can outweigh any future profits, especially if it’s for a one-off project. It doesn’t make financial sense for joinery manufacturers.
If we look at the way the PVCu and aluminium sectors have tackled this, it’s led by the system companies. They test a variety of window and door configurations including specific hardware and glass. The results can be cascaded down from the system company through the supply chain and used by both fabricators and installers. The standardisation of these systems means it’s worth the system companies taking the financial responsibility of testing.

Legislation

The legislation has been set up to protect consumers. However, because of the costs, this system discriminates against small and medium sized manufacturers of timber windows and doors. This is a huge problem, because the majority of joiners in the UK are SMEs.
Because there can be no system companies when it comes to timber windows, a different solution is needed. For many years I wanted to find a way to fund the upfront testing. The Joinery Network has made it a reality. The newly formed cooperative of eight businesses has a common goal to support joinery manufacturers make and sell superior timber windows and doors. It has collectively funded the testing of a complete range of windows and doors needed for joinery manufacturers to enter the trade and new build sectors.

The Joinery Network

The founder members of The Joinery Network cover everything needed for joiners: Leitz Tooling UK for tooling; Close Brothers for asset finance of tooling and machinery; BJ Waller for ironmongery; DJH Group for Stonebridge and Finesse hardware; Critica for manufacturing software; Balls2 Marketing for marketing; Fiscale for R&D tax credits; and OT Dare Joinery Consultants. Each of the companies brings a level of expertise that can help joinery manufacturers.
The first step for The Joinery Network was to invest in testing. This included initial BS 6375: 1 for weathertightness and thermal performance; PAS 24 and Approved Document Q for security; and Part M to ensure that people can access and use buildings and their facilities.

Testing for performance

Members of The Joinery Network were keen to do as many variations of windows and doors as possible. In total we have tested 9 variations including flush casement, box sash vertical sliding windows, and entrance doors with standard and low thresholds, French and single doors, and bi-folding doors. We are about to test a high performing flush/storm-proof casement. We have also pushed the boundaries by making the largest products possible to the test laboratories capabilities.
The windows tested were manufactured by Scotts of Thrapston. Scotts has been around for nearly 100 years providing timber products to the construction industry, but its window offering was geared to supplying the property refurbishment market. The company was keen to get involved in the new build market and was looking for new tooling to manufacture windows and doors. To expand the business into this sector, they needed certified products.
Once we had the initial batch of products, The Joinery Network booked two weeks at the UKAS testing house. The results are excellent. We included full-glazed, half-glazed and panel door options, opening both in and out, and tested several permutations of French doors.

Cascading the results

There was good reason to test appropriately sized window and doors. Cascaded results have to be a true representation of the products manufactured. Testing small sized windows simply doesn’t give joiners the back up they need for new build projects.
This means we now have the results that can be cascaded to other manufacturers and installers. To cover the costs and future testing, joiners can use The Joinery Network’s results through a licencing system.
The licences are available for the products needed, and the fees have been designed to be easily affordable. It’s not just the fees that the Joinery Network is keen to keep low. The system massively reduces the up-front costs of creating a system suitable for the new build market. Tom Barfield, joinery sales manager at Scotts of Thrapston, has estimated that by working with The Joinery Network for the tooling and testing, they have saved £50,000 on the set up of the system.

The future

The launch of The Joinery Network has already attracted interest from joinery manufacturers looking to get involved in selling to new build and trade installers. As well as the website, and social media, we have set up The Joinery Network Hub as a group on Facebook so joinery manufacturers can pose questions and discuss issues. We also have a number of practical events coming up this year which joiners can attend free of charge.
We have chosen to test the most popular configurations, but there is still more testing to do. This will be ongoing to create a comprehensive range of products to suit all applications.
Apart from the licence fees, there are no membership fees or tie-ins for joiners to share any of the information we deliver. We believe that this is the best way to help joinery manufacturers access the lucrative new build and trade installer markets.

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