An article written for Glass & Glazing Products Magazine, November 2016.
In this hardware sector report for Glass and Glazing Products, Carl F Groupco – the established supplier of window and door fittings – details why proactive partnerships are key to growth and development in the distribution market.
Eighteen months ago, a partnership between distributor Carl F Groupco and manufacturer, Ingenious Locks and Hardware was forged when the innovative Professional and Duplex door lock ranges were added to the hardware supplier’s range.
Product benefits, supply capabilities and how the locks complemented Carl F Groupco’s existing range were key to the business arrangement. However, as John Crittenden – Managing Director of Carl F Groupco advises – it is essential to look beyond the specification and the price tag when selecting new partners. Expanding on the importance of shared brand values and service synergies, John explains:
“To survive and develop in the hardware supply business you have to build a reputation for quality service as well as products. While price definitely matters in this industry, that will quickly be forgotten if there are installation, performance or support issues.
“Strong partnerships with manufacturers are therefore essential in moving the supplier from a distribution business to providing a full-service offering. As a result, we go beyond product and price on our check list…before embarking on a long-term relationship with a manufacturer, we ensure that we have a shared philosophy which will form the basis of a proactive partnership.
“Of course, it isn’t a one way street. The manufacturer needs to be assured that we are going to give them the representation they deserve, which is based on our legacy of technical support and commitment to service.
“The Ingenious team’s technical capabilities and long history in the lock industry were significant factors in developing our relationship. With decades of experience accrued before forming the company, Nigel Hutchinson, Stuart Carpenter and their team knew everything that can go right, and wrong, with a locking system. This deep rooted knowledge is essential. Anyone can design a lock, the secret is understanding what can go wrong… because locks last many years, it takes decades to fully understand the workings, challenges and complexities.
“We are very much on the same page as Ingenious regarding our customer focus – they are always approachable and happy to produce lock variants to meet different customer requirements. Prototypes are supplied quickly, and without fuss, which results in tailored solutions and delighted end users.
“And there is no complacency. We like the way that Ingenious challenge convention. The Duplex version, for example, has evolved away from the two hook, two roller lock, which has been the standard solution for as long as I can remember. Ingenious has taken a step back to see how they can differentiate their offer: the result is a five hook option, which gives sales teams a real differentiator and all important USP.
A harmonised relationship
“We are also harmonised regarding technical support for customers which is backed by extensive training. Ingenious staff have provided comprehensive product inductions – they have conducted training sessions and are very hands on. Our technical teams work together and combine their extensive knowledge of PAS 24 and Secured by Design to advise customers and help them through testing. They are also available whenever needed to ensure that we give timely responses to our customers – as we all know, time is of the essence and immediate answers are essential.
“The backing of a ten year fit and forget guarantee gives our customers full confidence in the product: this includes a dedicated on-the-road technician, in house training of fabricators and fitters if required, full guidance or management of testing requirements and complete support through changeover.”
Reinforcing the significance of the partnership, Ingenious’ MD Nigel Hutchinson said:
“We love the brand, the customer experience and the focus that Carl F Groupco brings to service. I have known John and his team for years and our teams share the same passion for development and customer support – these are the essential building blocks for any manufacturer and supplier relationship. The launch of Ingenious has been exciting and we need to be in complete alignment with distributors who share our can do attitude; this is very much the case with Carl F Groupco.”
Carl F Groupco confirms that, from the outset, the locks manufactured by Ingenious have provided its customers with a full range of options for PVC, timber and composite doors. For the hardware supplier, the stand out product is the Duplex door lock, which has been extremely popular: the double hook feature, which is fully security tested, is a real selling point.
Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handle @Carl_F_Groupco.