Invest or consolidate?

Are we really coming out of recession or will we have the fabled double dip? Who knows? Certainly not the experts! Does anyone doubt that it has been a difficult start to 2010 for most fabricators which is disappointing after a good back quarter to 2009? The weather probably had a big affect because there does seem to be more positive signs in February.

We are a long way into this downturn now and many companies have realised at last that you cannot just sit still as there is a need to either invest or consolidate. Fabricators naturally stopped capital spending from the start of the downturn and put plans on the back burner until calmer waters were reached but now that it is clear that even with more tough times laying ahead a ‘no investment’ policy cannot persist indefinitely.

A window fabricator like any other business needs to regularly invest if they want to survive and those that don’t want to or cannot afford to need to seriously consider stopping fabrication and find a good trade supplier. Articles will continue to appear encouraging window companies to avoid selling on price but with so much over capacity and many fabricators struggling in a difficult market selling on price will continue in many sectors until consolidation is advanced and we are a long way from that point yet. It is going to become more and more difficult to compete in the face of stiff price competition and fabricators who think they can survive without the latest technology will eventually surely fail.

A number of fabricators have realised that they cannot put off investment any longer and enquiries have picked up along with orders, at least for Stuga Machinery. After a long period when there were no orders for automated sawing & machining centres this specialist machinery builder has a full order book for both new and used machinery for the first time in twelve months and this order book runs until August.

Stuga also offer the full range of Sturtz automatic welding and cleaning machines. This includes stand alone cleaners, vertical and horizontal welding machines and multihead cleaners. A smart decision by Everglade Windows of Perivale recently saw the purchase of a Sturtz automated line including an eight head welding machine feeding into a two head cleaner. This line was installed quickly and efficiently and gives Everglade considerable flexibility in production of their Kommerling window system.

Stuga machines are also proving popular in the used machinery market and the company has a list of fabricators looking for used Stuga’s. The reason is simply because Stuga has always had a policy of looking after their machines wherever an owner has acquired them from and this includes auctions, liquidators and even competitors. Stuga specialise in looking after, moving, reprogramming and refurbishing their entire range of machines giving owners peace of mind concerning their investment. It also helps to deal with a British manufacturer that resources all parts in this country and designs work-arounds for components that become obsolete.

Most of Stuga’s competitors have also seized the opportunity in a compliment to the company’s products with several actively trading in Stuga machines, approaching administrators and even ringing round the industry actively trying to find available machines. In the knowledge that Stuga are here in this country actively supporting their machines competitors feel safe trading in the equipment and with nearly one hundred and fifty lines in operation throughout the UK there are plenty to go at. In these times of low investment a quick profit on a Stuga machine with little risk is a good bet.

If the machines were available Stuga has open enquiries for seven used cutting & prepping centres but currently cannot get hold of any. It is felt that the downturn will see many fabricators going bust and bringing machines to the market but from the start there have only been a handful and when they do come up they are normally snapped up within hours.

Stuga has taken advantage of the downturn to reorganise their business and improve their machinery range across the board. Many new innovations and add-ons have been introduced and several more are under development. The company has a full design team operating here in this country and improvements are worked on constantly.

The Stuga factory in Norfolk is also buzzing with refurbishment projects and the company is still looking for machines to purchase to fulfil enquiries for fully refurbished equipment. Why do fabricators purchase double mitre saws when for the same money or even less they can purchase a refurbished Stuga automatic cutting centre that will make windows very quickly with accuracy and consistency complete with automatic arrowhead cutting? Stuga refurbished machines come with a parts and labour warranty and in most cases with a full history.