K2 winner sees future in colour

Southport based fabricator North West Rooftech was the 1st prize winner of the K2 Photo Challenge. Anne-Marie Busch, K2’s Marketing Manager, talks to Andy Ingman, NW Rooftech MD, about their business.

North West Rooftech have been with K2 since the company started in 1999. Initially trading as Finch and Ingman, they were a joinery specialist (windows and doors). They started buying in roofs for conservatories (approx 2 / month), but the quality was - according to Andy - appalling, to the point where they were concerned it would cost them their business. They made their way to Glassex in the hope of finding a quality product, and found K2. They started fabricating roofs from then on; in the 1st year they were making 8 roofs / month.

AMB: Andy, first of all congratulations. The winning entries gave our judges plenty to think about, but your photos were definitely a superb example of what can be achieved with the K2 roof system. And it showed a good eye for photography.
AI: Thank you. Frankly I was more into the participating than the winning so this is great! I never win anything!

AMB: You have been with K2 for a long time now. Why did you choose K2 and remain with the company all these years?
AI: Because of the ease of manufacturing and installation; it was by far the easiest we had found on the market. And the product has carried on improving over the years. We already had machinery so the initial set up costs were low. We did have to acquire a new unit as we were building all the roofs that went out. Nowadays this is done only for complex roofs, as improved software and computerised machinery ensure all standard roofs are cut and drilled accurately. Nowadays 80% of all our roofs are flat packed.

AMB: Is it fair to say that your business has grown together with K2?
AI: I would agree. NW Rooftech has 12 employees today; up from just 2 in 1999. 2010 was NW Rooftech’s best year in 8 years and Andy expects 2011 to be better still, a testament to their business skills and awareness of how the market is evolving.

AMB: What volumes are you achieving nowadays?
AI: From our maximum of 8 roofs /month in 1999 we are looking at up to 130/months in 2011

AMB: What is behind your current results?
AI: We consciously started to focus on areas of the market that were looking for a product with higher value as we saw that the demand for standard white UPVc products were simply too price driven, with little room for margins.

AMB: What specifically allowed you to do this?
AI: For us the introduction of colours has made all the difference. For the homeowner it offers added value, a higher quality product. It also allows us to earn an acceptable margin. 25% of all our roofs are in colour (not including woodgrains). The most popular colours are the blacks and greys, followed by cream.

AMB: Do you find this for both PVC and aluminium?
AI: Well, in our case it is for the aluminium roof, as this is what we push the most. It is what differentiates a good roof from a great roof, and there is no doubt that the K2 aluminium roof is a fantastic product. The appeal comes from a number of factors, including the ball finial and the option to have an infill rather than cresting, which some of our customers find a little old fashioned.

AMB: But you are not the only company offering coloured aluminium roofs, so what makes NW Rooftech stand out?
AI: True we are not the only ones offering colour. However not everybody does the aluminium roof, and few manage their own powder coating, and this is what differentiates us. We source our own powder coating and are therefore able to provide any colour, with excellent lead times. The benefit of powder coated aluminium is that anything goes. As homeowners are becoming more knowledgeable we now get requests for specific RAL colours, and not everybody can supply as efficiently as we do. We also have our own paint booth for all internal PVC trims.

AMB: How does all this translate in terms of product sold?
AI: 60% of all roofs are now glazed in glass (Including Celsius), we have gone from the only colours being woodgrains 2 years ago, to selling at least 25% of all roofs in colour, and white PVC now only represents 40% of our sales.

AMB: Do you believe your reputation helps build your business’ success…
AI: Absolutely! We work all over the North West thanks to word of mouth. In fact our K2 Photo Challenge entry was from a job we did in Ilkley, not exactly on our doorstep. We work on the principle that small details matter, and our customers appreciate the personal touch. We even offer a free onsite survey when we have requests for unusually shaped roofs; this is proving very popular.

AMB: Where do you see the business going over the next 12 months?
AI: We anticipate further growth. We have just hired a new sales person to boost our enquiry levels. So all in all we see the immediate future in a very positive light.

AMB: Well, thank you for your time Andy, and congratulations once more. We hope you enjoy your prize!