Through the industry's eyes
1 November 2021
Following a highly successful and insightful Glazing Summit, Window Ware’s MD Sam Nuckey, who was a panellist on this year’s ‘Conquering the Supply Chain Crisis’ debate, shares her insights from the day, and explains why face-to-face events like this can help businesses get closer to their customers.
With the country now entering its second pandemic winter, while ongoing raw material shortages, persistent price rises and supply disruptions make it difficult for firms to meet sustained heightened demand for doors and windows, it’s fair to say the glazing industry has got a lot on its plate!
Indeed, many of the business leaders and professionals who attended the Glazing Summit agreed they had been kept so busy over the last 18 months trying to serve an exploding market, tackle supply issues and stay agile in constantly shifting conditions, there had been little time to ‘look up’ and plan ahead!
That made the timing of the Glazing Summit all the more perfect. The rare opportunity to take time out of hectic work schedules for a whole day of valuable peer-to-peer note swapping and brainstorming was long overdue.
“After an extended period of limited contact, it was great to engage in some genuine, face-to-face networking and catch up with people we hadn’t seen for ages,” agrees Sam. “Of course, there were many common themes as everyone shared experiences, concerns and predictions for the coming months, but one of the biggest talking points was undoubtedly the supply chain.”
Looking at the supply chain from all sides
“When it comes handling the fluctuating fortunes of the supply chain, Window Ware is pretty well versed,” affirms Sam. “We’ve been forecasting demand and factoring in manufacturing capacity and shipping delays into our inventory management for years. It’s how we’ve managed to build resilience, maintain service and secure stock for our customers despite the current tough conditions.”
“But for those businesses further down the supply chain, such as installers and contractors, it’s much harder for them to flex and respond to factors like rising prices, especially given the sheer pace and persistence of inflation at the moment,” reveals Sam.
“Installers often quote for jobs weeks in advance. At that point, the customer agrees to the estimate and the date is set for installation. In the meantime, however, material costs keep rising and by the time the fitters arrive on site, the quote is already out of date and the installer instantly out of pocket.”
“We know that we have had to work extra hard to maintain service and supply chain commitments by combining additional resource and focus, and building buffer stocks to manage extended lead times, non-deliveries and material shortages. But current rising costs are constant and often non-negotiable; either way we just cannot absorb them and are forced to pass them onto the market. This may be good for the industry in the medium to long term, but it is problematic now.”
Sam believes that, “Without events like the Glazing Summit, we might not get to hear how the supply situation is genuinely impacting all fenestration professionals. These kinds of industry gatherings give all sectors a chance to be heard and help keep businesses attuned to customers at all stages of the supply chain. We are able to gain valuable insights into the different experiences and perspectives within the industry and get a better understanding of the real problems individual firms face, so solutions can be found together.”
Sustainability top of the agenda
It’s not just high-profile climate talks such as COP26 which have brought climate change to the attention of the world. According to a recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, consumers are more conscious than ever, with searches for sustainable goods showing a global increase of 71% since 2016.
“The good news to come out of the Glazing Summit is that the fenestration industry is already doing a lot to operate more sustainably,” reveals Sam. “Unfortunately, we’re just not necessarily telling consumers about it! But, with more people choosing to shop eco-friendly brands, companies need to get proactive about promoting their green credentials – it could prove to be the ultimate differentiator.”
Entrepreneurial spirit burns bright
“For me, the Glazing Summit served as a real affirmation of the pioneering spirit of our industry. It was inspiring to hear how our business leaders had successfully brought their companies out of lockdown and emerged stronger. This industry never ceases to evolve by moulding and remoulding its people and products to always deliver what the customer needs.”
“Nevertheless, the glazing industry has its problems, and we all know this level of growth can’t possibly last forever. At some point, the bubble will burst. But when it does, I am confident our industry’s proven resourcefulness will win out.”