23 Years In Setting Shaped Frame Standards
Now entering their 23rd year in business, Universal Arches has been pivotal in helping to define the standards for the arched and shaped frame sector, as managing director, Leon Day, explains to Clearview Magazine.
I have seen a number of arching companies come and go over my eleven year tenure, as the owner and managing director of Universal Arches, which has not necessarily had a positive impact on the specialist shaped frame sector that we operate in. During this time we’ve done much to raise standards in the industry by means of bringing lead times down, adopting ISO9001:2008 standards and introducing the use of 3D computer modelling for production, among other initiatives.
In recent year’s our prominent position in the sector has led us to sign exclusive agreements with The Residence Collection as their only approved shaped frame partner and similarly for composite door pioneers, Solidor. Within the last week, we have also cemented a deal with Brisant-Secure, as their only arched and shaped frame partner in the sector for their defining Ultion cylinder. These relationships are in addition to our core ability to bend every type of current PVCu profile and have formers for all of the systems that have been developed over the last 20 years.
Other business partnerships with the likes of Rehau, have opened up opportunities in the commercial sector for curved cabled management systems, while we have also worked with blinds market leader Thomas Sanderson on a range of arched shutters. Clearly our list of business partners says a lot about us as a business.
Business relationship for us are as important with these leading industry innovators, as they are with our cherished customer network of fabricators and installers. We’re the leader in a niche, yet important market segment within the glazing industry and so our internal processes, procedures and expertise needs to excel, while we continue to raise overall business standards for the good of our micro-industry.
Many of our employees have been with the business over 10 years, with many here since the start 23 years ago. The resulting average time for each employee at Universal Arches is 8.3 years and combined makes for over 164,000 hours of combined experience in the sector.
We also can boast the sector’s only dedicated technical support department, which also produces our unique 3D computer modelling templates that are accurate to the nearest 1-2 millimetres. We’ve pioneered the use of this technology in the sector, making the traditional manner of drawing out templates by hand redundant in over 85% of jobs. Yet, whatever the query, there is always a team on hand with considerable expertise, to help customers in the most complicated of projects.
For the last 10 years, we’ve also had zero non-conformities for our ISO9001:2000/2008 certification, a clear demonstration of a business that’s run with efficient processes. That’s not to say that we don’t operate a continuous improvement plan, we do and encourage our employees to look at new ways in which we can become even better as a business, after all quality comes from within.
Every product that leaves our factory goes through several quality control procedures, before the product is carefully wrapped and CE Marked, if applicable, for dispatch. Our production facility does not look like a typical window manufacturing plant, but more of a joinery workshop with products carefully manufactured by skilled personnel on benches. The man hours to produce such complex shapes for 350 frames per week is considerable, as we grow the workforce to 55 trained employees.
We’ve also built robust employee welfare policies including health and safety declarations, something that many of our customers fully expect and support and we have training programmes in place across the business. Each year we bring in several new recruits to the production team and spend 12 months carefully training them the ‘Universal’ way.
We fully welcome new entrants into the shaped frame sector, it’s what healthy competition is all about, but a word of caution. Some new starts never make it past the 18 month mark, with others leaving unaddressed product and quality issues, or even a failure to offer CE Marking, which affects the sector as a whole. As the market leader in the sector we have a role to protect the standards that we have all worked hard towards over the last decade.
But for now our immediate focus will turn to the FIT Show and after our award-winning stand and presentation last year, we are looking to further present our business with the same sense of purpose and panache. After 23 years our appetite for success and improving the standards in the shaped frame sector is as strong as ever.
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