Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, this brand new £1,000,000 holiday home has a feature like no other.
This majestic creation was designed by K2 Architectural to house a swimming pool. It features the K2 conservatory and lantern system and uses Celsius high performance glass which enhances the blue tones to provide the perfect “vista”
Our thanks go to Tom for sharing these photos with us.
Sally and Gary Fielding, founders and owners of K2 Conservatories, answer our questions.
As the founders of K2 you obviously care a great deal about the business’ well being. What keeps you motivated / interested after all these years?
We have had many ups and downs over the past 10 years...An exciting few years were followed by some ‘well documented’difficult years. Over the past 2 years the market has been very tough. Not only have conservatory sales slowed down substantially, but the margins have reduced as we all have to fight for a smaller slice of the cake. Saying all that this year is the first one in many that sales are up ‘year on year’. So let’s hope the tide has turned and we can all look forward to a brighter future.
Conservatories sales have taken a drop in recent times, how do you feel K2 is placed to cope with this downturn?
We have to continually work hard adapting to changes in the market. Volume wise we are certainly doing a lot less than in years gone by. However our customers are seeing an increase in average order value, as specifications rise. Our higher end products such as the aluminium roof and Celsius glass are really gaining popularity, which proves that price is not everything… thankfully!
Customer service and customer satisfaction are the main business drivers. How difficult is it to maintain these principles in these tough times, when margins are tight?
Customer satisfaction is, of course, paramount to any business’ success. Whilst we have a proven product range that has been developed over the last 10 years, customer service has come under pressure as cut backs have had to be made. However, eventually this can end up being counter productive, and we are very conscious of this. Recently we have re-invested in this area of the business which has already made a positive impact.
Just over 18 months ago the business moved to Blackburn, how has this impacted the company?We had, for many years, wanted to move our operations to a single location. Operating not just from 3 sites, but also from 3 towns, had been logistically very difficult. We are now on a seventeen acre site with more than 300,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse facilities. The move itself was a complex operation involving the relocation of extrusion lines, machining centres and a toughening plant... not to mention 300 staff! Looking back we probably underestimated the impact on the business, our staff and customers. In fact we should take this opportunity to thank everybody for their support. Of course we are now experiencing the benefit of this massive effort. Not only have we been able to save a lot of costs in time, travel etc., but bringing everybody together under one roof has really improved communication and has created a much better team spirit. All key to an efficient manufacturing operation.
K2 has always put an emphasis on bar length as opposed to selling conservatory roofs direct, is this still the case?
We have always positioned ourselves as a systems company, designers and providers of products for the conservatory roof market. With the average installation company installing less than 2 conservatories per week we have always felt that having regional fabricators was the right route to market. This ensures that the installer will get the best service, enabling them to concentrate on growing their businesses.
Having been in the industry over 10 years how would you like to see the industry evolve over the next 10 years?
Let’s face it; it would be nice to see more margin across the industry. In years gone by it was this margin that fuelled product innovation, which in turn, was the driving force for a vibrant industry. As mentioned earlier we feel very positive about the future and are currently working on some very exciting new products that will help, we hope, bring back the good old days.
Finally, have you got a message for all your customers?
We have all had our fair share of pain over recent times. When sales take a dip we have to make harsh decisions which are not always popular. However, our industry isn’t about to collapse… and nor are we. We definitely feel confident for the future and feel there are better times ahead. We would like to thank all our customers for their continued support of K2, and look forward to bringing you more opportunities to grow your businesses.