A view to grow
A reputation for quality and sustainability means that as the market grows, so too can timber manufacturer Howarth Timber Windows and Doors
In its 175th year, the Howarth Timber group has established itself as a leading and preferred supplier of timber products to the UK construction industry. Today operating all over the country, the group turns over £170 million. Founded in 1985 was the group’s windows and doors division, which currently contributes approaching £9 million in turnover to the group. Based in North Lincolnshire, the division primarily serves the new build sector with a variety of products, with clients ranging from the largescale house builders to one off personal buyers. The scope of its experience means that the company’s projects range in contract value up to £500,000 and beyond, supplying single plot to 200 plot sites.
“We have a product range that covers most customersneeds,” explains general manager,Alan Shearer. “We’re generally able to cover most customers’ requests and requirements in the timber market. We are also fairly competitive – we’re neither the cheapest nor the most expensive in the market.” In terms of products, the core of the business surrounds the timber windows. The STORVIK range comes in both double and triple glaze configurations, and demonstrates a secure and practical design with achievable ultralow u-values of 1.2W/m3K and 0.7W/m3K respectively. Further along the range is the Stormproof window, which is arguably the most common style of window used in the UK.
In addition, the company also offers sliding sash windows, which brings modern energy performance to a traditional design, and feature windows. In terms of doors, the companyoffers a range of styles again all adhering to the Howarth ethos ofgood quality and security. Both standard and bi-fold maxiview doors complete the productoffering. Supporting the productbeyond the point of sale is a range of guarantees from five to 30 years covering different finishesand fittings.
All products manufactured by Howarth are done so according to the UK Police Initiative, ‘Secured by Design’, a crime prevention scheme that focuses on incorporating security in the design stage of new house building. All Howarth products are built to meet the new requirements of Approved Document Q that will come into effect in October 2015.
Further enhancing the company’s close attention to quality is the potential lifetime engineered into the timber windows. A study commissioned by the Wood Window Alliance, undertaken in accordance with BS ISO 15686-8, shows that windows manufactured under the Wood Window Alliance guidelines, will achieve a minimum estimated service life of 60 years. In sheltered locations and with average maintenance levels, this is predicted to extend to 87 years.
In manufacturing from European Redwood timber the company is engaging directly with the environment, and its approach to sustainability is exemplary. “Trees are one of the most sustainable materials you can use,” expresses Alan. “We ensure that all our timber comes from managed forests, so if a tree is cut down a new one is replanted. Young trees take more carbon out of the atmosphere than older ones, so we want to encourage managed forests that are constantly changing old trees for new.” Further supporting the use for timber within the windows and doors industry is the fact that 17 per cent less energy is required to turn raw timber into a useable product, than in plastic framed products. Testifying to the company’s responsible approach to managed forests is the possession of FSC accreditation and Chain of Custody. Chain of Custody was awarded to Howarth Timber in 2006 and is a mechanism that allows for the tracking of certified material from the forest to the final product, ensuring all wood can be traced back to certified forests. Ultimately, Howarth’s customers can be sure that they are buying responsibly sourced, well-managed timber products.
Having established itself over 30 years with a name that maintains its utmost commitment to quality and sustainability, Howarth Windows and Doors is experiencing a strong level of growth in the market. “The general market is good, growing last year,” says Alan. “New house registrations in the first quarter were up by 26 per cent in the private sector so there is a general uplift in the market that appears to be continuing.” In order to facilitate the growth the company has just received planning permission to carry out an extension on its current site, with construction due to start soon for a completion target of the end of 2015. “The factory at the moment is split into two separate units, which is not ideal,” outlines Alan. “We’re bringing the elements onto one site and increasing capacity. We’re hoping over the next three to four years to increase by 35 per cent. Obviously this will be a gradual process as we have to bring in more labour.”
Commenting on what the market growth means to the company, Alan is optimistic. “It represents both a major opportunity and a challenge,” he says. “The challenge is looking at how we are going to manage the current growth, hence we are making this investment. However, it means we will be recruiting new people, which is good news for the local economy. It’s certainly better than the challenge that we faced with the recession though.”
With new space to grow and a strong market open to Howarth, the next few years look set to be rewarding. “The strategic vision is to maintain ourselves in the market place,” concludes Alan. “However, we also want to grow our market share so that we are operating closer to £12 million turnover than the current nine. Ideally we’ll be looking at about 35 per cent growth over the next three years. For the moment, we continue to enjoy the financial security afforded to us by being part of a large group.”
Howarth Timber Windows and Doors
Services: Manufactures a range of timber windows and doors