As the industry has emerged from lockdown, there have been plenty of headlines that do not paint the best picture of our glazing market.
I write this just a few days after the announcement that Customade Group has been bought out of administration by a private equity fund to form a new group. The social media backlash is still going strong. And rightly so, if the rumours around their behaviour towards their customers and suppliers are all true.
Veka’s response that their future efforts will focus on supporting their ‘TRUSTED fabricator customers’ will, I’m sure, be a welcome response for those fabricators who are doing it right and grafting to recover from the effects of COVID-19 – which is what the vast majority of our industry is doing.
Unfortunately, it’s bad news stories, such as this Customade Group one, that lead the agenda and put a stain on the reputation of our industry. In these situations, the industry needs to be taking a stand, in-line with the strength and courage that Veka has shown, to call out bad practice.
Headlines concerning jobs saved is taking away from the trail of destruction in the supply chain and the impact on the jobs of so many not directly employed by Customade. I do hope government starts to look at the methods used by some large businesses to look after only themselves at the expense of so many others.
‘Cowboys’ have no place in our industry, and we need to throw our weight behind supporting the professional businesses that do the right thing. As an industry, we are often quick to judge bad installation businesses, whilst bad business practice further up the supply chain often goes under the radar. I think what recent events have really shown is that it’s becoming a lot harder for the bigger ‘cowboys’ to find somewhere to hide.
Pressures on the glazing industry are set to increase over the next 12 months, and those who improve standards now will be well prepared for the changes that are coming.
The Construction leadership Council (CLC) has a 2-year recovery plan, and has a Sectoral Working Group for Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (RMI). Unfortunately, glazing’s history of shunning collaboration with other construction sectors has given us a bit of a reputation, meaning that our participation in these groups that make the decisions has, historically, been limited. With the government liaison that Certass has done through the COVID-19 pandemic, we have managed to open up the communication between government and glazing. This not only gives us the chance to put our industry views forward but will also help us to be better prepared for the modernisation of Technical Competency Requirements for installers, which is planned for the next 12 months.
When we started Certass TA 2 years ago, our goal was always to create an inclusive organisation that gave real value to members, and championed the great workmanship done by our installers, as well as making their voice heard at both industry and government level.
What the COVID pandemic has proven is that we can also offer value to companies further up the supply chain, as fabricators confided that they weren’t receiving the support and advice that they needed and didn’t know where to go to ask questions of Government. It’s these events that have brought forward the launch of our Trade Association membership for the supply chain.
With communication lines with government more open, we have a much better chance of influencing the decisions around regulatory change which are on the horizon. Whilst I can bring back relevant points from discussions with government groups to the industry, I can also take feedback from the industry back to the groups, which will be of real value to them. My new monthly webinar will be the vehicle for these discussions and is open to all Certass Trade Association members.
Our hope is that this will form a new basis of collaboration in our industry between those companies who run their businesses with integrity and manufacture great products, or install those great products with expert care. This will give us a united voice and a stronger influence when it comes to those communications with government and start to show the rest of the UK what’s great about our industry.