We talk to HWL Trade Frame’s Graham Howatson on how the company is helping its customers to win sales in an increasingly competitive heritage sector.
Can you give us an overview of HWL Trade Frames?
Graham Howatson (GH): We specialise in heritage and flush windows and doors. With a market-leading portfolio of PVC and aluminium products.
The company is built around a commitment to quality but also for service. That’s demonstrated by our technical expertise but also through our pioneering development of non-glass bonded Timberweld R9 windows.
Can you talk us through the advantages of your Timberweld R9 windows?
GH: R9 was the window that opened the industry’s eyes to the potential of authentic, heritage style products and while it will always be seen as a trailblazing system, it was not without its flaws – among which was the fact that if you wanted to make it with mechanical corner joints, you had to bond the glass in order to give it enough strength.
That was a real problem, because consumers at this ultra-premium end of the market, will want their Residence casements to look as much like real timber as possible.
For installers, the attraction of selling a high-margin product was constantly being offset by increased installation costs. The average weight of a glass bonded R9 window is around 100kg. They needed extra fitters on-site to manage that.
We identified that issue and developed a solution, using Timberweld, that mechanically joints and also welds the corners. That gives the system enough strength to be handled in the exact same way as a regular casement. This saves installers a lot of money as a result of not having to pay for additional fitters. We estimate that it could be as much as £500 on an average three day fit for 10 windows and doors. If you add it up over the long term, installers using our non-glass bonded Timberweld R9 are significantly more profitable.
How have you expanded your product offering?
GH: The non-glass bonded Timberweld R9 remains as our halo product. However, we have recently added a full suite of new products.
This includes an R9 open-in door with a Timberweld 900 joint. It’s taken a lot of research and development to bring this to market, but the effort is worth it because it gives our customers a unique opportunity at the point of retail. Again, homeowners who are in the market for high-value heritage products are much less likely to make a purchasing decision based on budget. They want the best, and our R9 open-in door allows our customers to make the most of that.
We have also recently introduced the new 70mm Kommerling flush. This sits below our Residence offer in terms of price point, but it is still a very high quality, premium system. We will be offering it with a standard 450 mitre joint but we will also be the first fabricator to be manufacturing it with the Timberweld mechanical joint.
In addition, we have also brought on board the new flush style Prestige aluminium window from Sheerline. Again, it’s a really high-quality product, it’s very easy to fit and it offers exceptional U values as low as 1.3 W/(m2K).
What do you do differently from other fabricators that make heritage and flush products?
GH: Demand has never been greater in the heritage sector. We are not the only fabricator manufacturing flush windows and doors. Thanks to our development work, the non-glass bonded Timberweld R9 is now in the technical manual. So in theory, anyone can make it!
But the reality is that not many are prepared to because to get it right takes more than just feeding profile into a machine. The tolerances are much more precise. It’s not a product that can be rushed and as such it doesn’t suit manufacturers that are focused on volume.
Our customers come to us because of our attention to detail and sector experience. We offer a personal level of service, but that’s combined with modern, cloud-based order management systems that allow them to quote and order online, download documents or get an update on when their delivery is due.
The marketplace for heritage and flush products is increasingly crowded. We make it as easy as possible for our customers to stand out and win sales.