Frustration For Installers In Supply Chain Crisis

A large Essex social  housing contract

Supply issues have hit fabricators and in turn hit installers in the commercial market where the pressure to complete jobs on time to avoid financial penalties can be intense.

Clearly, when it comes to lead times and operational efficiencies it is often the installers operating at the sharp end of the industry, that are actually bearing the brunt.


Biggest challenge

For The Window Company (Contracts), which works right across the social housing and commercial new build sectors, obtaining stock to maintain its service levels and avoid those penalties has been one of the biggest challenges it has faced since factories reopened in April and May.


 “We recognise there are shortages on profiles, hardware and glass, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have targets to meet and service levels to maintain.”

– David Thornton 

Company Chair, The Window Company (Contracts)



While Thornton and his team are sympathetic to the problems that fabricators face, he still believes installers need open and honest communication from their suppliers if they are to manage their businesses effectively when demand is at the record levels that it is currently.  One supplier Thornton has singled out for praise however is Emplas, which he says was first out of the blocks when it comes to reopening and first to be up front with customers about the ongoing issues they face.


Long drive

Emplas is The Window Company (Contracts)’ chosen supplier on a large-scale social housing contract in Essex, where installation was paused during lockdown but which restarted in June with an immediate demand for several hundred windows per week.

Thornton explains the response: “Emplas were clear in their determination to work together with installers like us to find the best possible solution to stock shortages. When we got notification from them that a confirmed delivery was being delayed at short notice, I actually jumped in my car and drove the two hours to Wellingborough for a meeting with Deputy MD Kush Patel so that he could explain the supply chain issues they were facing in detail and I could see the situation for myself.

“Once there, I watched how deliveries into the factory were being monitored on an hour by hour basi, and the genuine effort that was being made to be as fair as possible with the materials available. We talked about the implications for both our business and agreed a plan which worked for both of us. That meant we could keep our client informed and put together a revised installation programme and a new set of KPIs for our team."



Thornton continues: “Without that level of transparency, the commercial and reputational implications for us could have been much more serious. Kush’s response and the proactive approach taken by everyone at Emplas effectively reinforced to us why they are the right partner on this contract and strengthened rather than weakened our relationship with them. I came away frustrated by Covid - but not Emplas.”


In this together

“I’m still seeing social media posts from installers complaining about lack of supply and poor communication from certain suppliers. Surely that should be a last resort. If we really are still ‘in this together’, I would hope that talking to your suppliers, meeting them, even visiting them as we did at Emplas, would deliver a better result.”

Picture: The Window Company (Contracts) chose Emplas to supply windows for a large Essex social housing contract.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis
27th October 2020


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