Sun, Sea & Sash Windows
28 September 2007
Going the extra mile for customers has always been something that came naturally to M&B Trading on the Isle of Wight. Indeed, it wasn’t long ago that they started a door and window fabrication business on the island to provide a better service to customers.
Here, Managing Director Michael Turner looks at how this philosophy led to the company becoming the first Eurocell fabricator to gain a BBA certification on a vertical sliding window.
“There has always been an active housing market on the Isle of Wight and in some respects this reflects the make up of the wider South East region of the country. Here on the island, just like certain areas of the mainland we are seeing a large number of premium developments being built and, with around a quarter of the population being of retirement age, often with above average wealth, the specification and quality of these builds is extremely high.
Originally I had been running a company on the mainland but had always been aware of the potential on the island because at the time there was a real lack of choice in terms of doors and windows. This meant that developers often had to source from the mainland to find products that met their detailed brief which was time consuming, costly and not always productive.
The result was that when the opportunity presented itself I decided to set up a business on the island and since we did we have become one of the fastest growing Eurocell fabricators in the UK.
We put this success down to being very clear about what we wanted to achieve. This was to become the fabricator of choice on the Isle of Wight for doors and windows and our approach was to focus on offering premium quality products backed up by a complete installation service. We also wanted to supply into the new build sector in addition to the home improvement market. However, in order to achieve the NHBC 10 year guarantee on the island all windows are required to be BBA certified.
Normally this would have been relatively straightforward and we could have supplied BBA-certified plain casement windows, which many Eurocell fabricators already offer. However when we talked to the developers we soon realized that we would also need to gain BBA certification on vertical sliders. The reason why developers on the island were asking for this were two fold; firstly, the style of window is favoured here both as a replacement for traditional and heritage type properties and on new build developments that need to create a harmonious balance with existing properties.
The NHBC also has an influence here because they prefer developers to use BBA-certified products when they assess properties for 'Buildmark' which is their 10-year warranty and insurance scheme for newly-built or newly-converted residential homes. The really great thing about the NHBC insisting on BBA certified products is that homeowners know that if they buy a property here on the island which has their Buildmark warranty the components used in its construction will have been rigorously assessed to BBA requirements. This ensures compliance with the latest building regulations and clearly demonstrates the quality of the components to potential buyers.
When we first approached Eurocell about gaining the BBA they seemed pretty impressed with the fact that we were going the extra mile for our customers and supported us all the way. As it turned out, gaining BBA on the sliders did involve quite a lot of work but was definitely worth the effort.
At the moment the big focus for developers is on improving the thermal performance of their properties. Historically vertical sliders have often scored slightly lower on thermal performance compared to a plain casement simply because of the increased number of moving parts and exposed edges. However, through the work we did with the BBA, we decided to manufacture our vertical sliders with Low E ‘planitherm 1.1’ which gives an optimum centre-pane U-value of 1.1 W/m2K. The exceptional thermal performance allowed us to achieve the mandatory maximum and area weighted average whole window U-value requirements. The benefit for our customers is that they now have greater flexibility of design which means they can specify vertical sliders to create the right aesthetic appearance with the knowledge that they have been BBA assessed and meet the latest thermal performance requirements.
When we finally gained the BBA certification we really did celebrate as it meant we were the first and still the only Eurocell fabricator to gain the assessment on the vertical slider. Has it been good for business? Definitely and not only here on the island. To date we have supplied many BBA-certified vertical sliders to Eurocell fabricators back on the mainland and the demand is growing all the time.
Following our BBA assessment the vertical sliders have been supplied to commercial developers and many of these properties are stunning and really add to the richness and variety of the island's architecture.
One particular site that our installers are working on at the moment is really worth seeing because it has terrific views across the harbour. Feedback from residents who have already moved in is that they really like the sliders because they open up their living areas and fit in perfectly with the surrounding properties.
Gaining BBA certification has been very challenging but in the end we considered it worthwhile and going the extra mile for customers has certainly helped us differentiate ourselves in the market. The fact that we now supply these to any fabricator in the UK also means that it has opened up many new business opportunities for us.” Anyone interested in BBA certified vertical sliders can contact M&B Trading on 01983 402400 or visit their website on www.mandbtrading.co.uk