An article written for Glass News, July 2017.
The Glass News team made a welcome return to the Carl F Groupco stand where they are regular visitors. In a meeting with Managing Director John Crittenden and Marketing Manager Clare Crockett, a tour of the company’s hardware highlights was given to Publisher Christina Shaw and Editor Chris Champion. John and Clare gave an update on the market, the opportunities, the company’s focus on service and hot topics including aluminium & Smart Tech.
Fluctuating sales were reported and a regular daily pattern of a rush on orders mid-late afternoon. However, the overall picture is extremely good. Carl F Groupco is on track to hit its budget; the company is gaining a considerable amount of new business in the aluminium sector; niche markets are on the upturn and SmartSecure, the company’s electronic locking and smart access control brand, is cornering the Smart Tech hardware sector.
John and his team recognise that service is the big differentiator and they move heaven & earth to deliver on time and in full. The in-house sales team recognises the importance of next-day deliveries and they get to know their customers’ product requirements in detail… they work with the warehouse to ship products, even if the customers’ timing of placing the order is cutting it fine. And the warehouse shares the same can do attitude. No-one at Carl F Groupco ever says tough, you’ve missed the delivery deadline… everyone will do what they can to ship the order for the next day.
The issue of stock-holding was raised and John confirmed it was a challenge, but one they are prepared to face to maintain their delivery commitments. Fortunately, the owner of Carl F Groupco supports this ethos and a figure of over £3.5million was given as the value of stock held at the company’s UK distribution centre in Peterborough and its Scottish operation in Cumbernauld.
Expanding on the importance of service, John said:
“We do what we say and that builds confidence and trust. We also know what we are talking about. We are a far cry from being just a ‘call centre’, everyone is technically trained. This is important... it means whoever you talk to can intelligently advise. Our team also works really closely together, both with their in-house colleagues and externally with our manufacturing partners; this ensures a high standard of service and detailed product advice. Ownership is important – no-one ever takes the view that it’s not their job and everyone understands that long term relationships are key. Our top five customers all date back over 20 plus years, this is due largely to the value that they put on the service we provide.”
Continuity is Key
And talking about relationships, John went on to explain that manufacturer partnerships are long-term. Taking FUHR, for example, the two organisations began working together well over 50 years ago – continuity is key to a shared focus in developing the products that the market needs. This led neatly into talking about SmartSecure which incorporates the FUHR multitronic 881 - a fully motorised locking mechanism.
On the anniversary of the launch of SmartSecure, Carl F Groupco is celebrating a highly successful first year for its new brand. Significant investment of over £150,000 has put the company at the forefront of Smart Tech in the window and door sector and SmartSecure is widely recognised as a Smart hardware hub catering for both new build and retrofit installations.
During SmartSecure’s first year, the company has produced comprehensive collateral including a thirty-six page brochure and dedicated video. Company-wide training has also taken place to ensure all staff are aware of the brand’s capabilities. Early interest has been shown from Housing Associations, with orders placed that are seen by Carl F Groupco as the start of major expansion in the care sector.
Another good news story from Carl F Groupco is its announcement that it has had a record year for its reversible hardware range that includes options for top and side hung projecting windows to provide a complete solution for fabricators.
With so much to talk about, Chris popped back onto the Carl F Groupco stand for a further chat with John… or maybe it was the freshly baked cookies that were the appeal!