A hardware partner you can rely on

In turbulent times, you need supply partners that have reassuring stability and a track record of going above and beyond for their clients.

John Crittenden, Managing Director of independently-owned hardware supplier Carl F Groupco, takes a closer look at the factors that make his company a strong partner in uncertain times.

The industry may still be in its post-pandemic flourish but it’s fair to say we’re also facing a wealth of challenges. Supply chain disruption was supposed to be a relatively short term post-Covid problem but looks set to extend into the long term as a result of global events. Then there’s rising inflation which means consumer spending will struggle to avoid a downturn later this year. And when you factor in the looming changes to the Building Regulations, it’s clear that businesses need to start adapting now to a changing market.

As a company that’s been established for over 70 years, there’s not much we haven’t seen before. Our longevity gives a stability our customers can rely on in turbulent times like these. More importantly, it also means we understand what our customers need to navigate the challenges and come out the other side.

As to the value of our offer, I’d highlight three things. Our large stocked range that gives our customers the ability to cope with supply chain disruption. Our proactive approach that adds value to every relationship. And our supportive focus that means our customers know we’ve got their backs.

As one of the only independently-owned hardware distributors we have the freedom and flexibility to ensure our range always reflects current market trends. We also have long-standing relationships with Europe’s most innovative manufacturers. For example, this year we are celebrating a 60-year partnership with FUHR, the renowned manufacturer of high-quality multipoint locking systems. We stock the largest FUHR range in the UK and are the company’s largest customer worldwide. Popular products include the bestselling Multisafe range of multipoint door locks, electromechanical door lock solutions that are at the heart of our SmartSecure range, ‘slam shut’ locks, emergency and panic exit locks, and tilt and turn hardware.

As well as FUHR, we also partner with hardware brands including Glazpart, Greenwood, Hoppe, Kenrick, MACO, Roto, Siegenia, Strand, RW Simon and Yale. Our depth and breadth of stock also means we have a 98% OTIF target rate across all our ranges.

Amanda Hale, General Manager at Roundbrand, sums up the difference this all makes to her business when she says: “Having worked with Carl F Groupco for over 15 years we have been consistently impressed by their service, knowledge, support, responsiveness and links to industry leading manufacturers.”

Our value doesn’t just stop at our product range or depth of stock.

We offer a proactive consultancy service, testing and working with our customers’ fabrication teams and our manufacturer partners to scope new hardware solutions and ensure smooth transitions to new ranges. For example, we’ve been supplying Cairngorm Group since 2005 and Managing Director Scott Dowling says: “They are so much more than just a catalogue company or online shop. We trust Carl F Groupco implicitly in their technical and supply abilities.”

We’re also there for the little things that make a big difference. We are set up to offer bespoke labelling for customers, repackaging into hardware sets where possible if required. And we often win business because we will break down box quantities too for additional flexible support.

We have the expertise and experience to be a supportive partner in times of change too. The updates to Part F of Building Regulations is the perfect example. As a distributor, we feel it’s our obligation to ensure that the full supply chain is prepared ahead of the changes that come into effect on 15 June that mean trickle vents will need to be fitted much more frequently.

Fabricators may need to review their production processes to cope with fitting new products and be aware of the vents and slots required to comply, while maintaining U values. Installers will need to educate themselves on the stipulations of Part F for all scenarios to make sure they are fitting compliant products and advising end users correctly.

We’ve already produced guidance for our customers and are working closely with suppliers to make sure we have increased stock of compliant trickle vents to cope with the rise in demand that will follow.

In turbulent times, you need supply partners that have reassuring stability and a track record of going above and beyond for their clients. I’m proud to say that Carl F Groupco is one of those supply partners.

Article written for the April 2022 edition of Windows Active Magazine, view the latest edition here

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