When Camden Frames closed the doors on its Northampton factory in May 2012 it was HL Plastics who bought the complete package of machinery; the catalyst for the company to commit on a significant scale to the machinery sector building on a presence they had had for many years, and one that now sees them as a very serious player with a very credible offering to match.
The innovative culture of the business helped them to see an opportunity in the machinery market while competitor systems were keen to remain focussed on their core offering only. Managing Director Hartshorn, comments “for many years fabricators wanted to do deals for machinery as a part of their package with their systems houses. We have never been afraid of doing this; they need machinery to produce, and what better way to cement the relationship than to provide them the means to manufacture windows and doors from your own profile?”Having a division within the company which could buy and sell machinery was a real help, and as the economic times became more difficult the company took an even more innovative approach. “Along with everybody else we recognised that the economy of the country had become, and indeed remains extremely tough. What we have been able to do is provide our fabricators with cost effective machinery to help them to modernise and remain competitive in the marketplace during these difficult times. We launched Liniar as a profile in 2008 at the start of the recession, and without doubt being able to supply machinery to our fabricators through our HL Plastics group has been a major advantage to them and to us. We are in no doubt that much of our growth as an extrusion company has come as a direct result of our being able to support our customers with modern machinery, and in return they have been able to support us with growth. Moreover we have been able to do this by extending credit through our own business as a part of their standard trading terms without them having to go to finance houses to procure machinery”.
The purchase of the Camden machinery package was the start of a new phase in the company’s involvement in the machinery sector. The substantial package was brought into a bespoke factory at HL Plastics and fully re-conditioned using the latest techniques, before being released to the market to satisfy the immediate demands for the high-tech machinery. The company also set about recruiting key personnel from the sector to help drive them forward. The latest recruit is Steve Hirst formerly of Kall Kwik, a certified Schirmer programmer with over 15 years industry experience. Becoming a stockist for official Haffner parts, which it holds on the shelf, is another major step forward for the company in being recognised as a significant player in the sector, along with its ability to offer programming services for these installations.
As Roger says “where we are now we are in a position to operate independently within the machinery sector. Already our customer base has expanded significantly beyond just our own fabricators. We are now recognised as being a genuine machinery company and our list of very well-known industry clients is growing all the time. We support all the major machinery brands, and are in a great position with the personnel and expertise we have in the team to play a major role in this sector. It makes perfect sense for us to be involved in machinery. It seems to me that with the decline of many of the original machinery suppliers it is an obvious fit for us as an extrusion house to be heavily involved in it. If we are divorced from it, our fabricators along with ourselves will suffer. As the industry matures it is more important than ever that we have a wider view of it, and a wider involvement in it than extrusions alone”.
What does the future hold?
The company now has a significant stock of PVCu and glass manufacturing machinery and welcomes enquiries for direct purchase and programming services from throughout the industry. It is clear that HL Plastics has a long term view of the window and door industry and how to support it as many of the original players in all sectors disappear or are absorbed by competitors.