1. What is your role at the Glass and Glazing Federation?
My title is GGF President, but the role is as a member and industry representative to oversee the good governance of the federation. The appointment lasts for two years and involves working closely with the Chief Executive of the GGF and reviewing the main operations of the board, committees, groups and Member interests.
2. What does the federation aim to do?
The Glass and Glazing Federation is primarily a Membership Organisation. It exists because of and for its Members.
It supports its Members in a variety of ways from gathering and providing technical and business advice, through to representing their interests in the UK and European Parliaments. Much of this work goes on unseen, but it has been vital to ensuring that both Member’s interests and those of the wider industry are heard and protected before any new legislation comes into law.
3. How do you ensure the highest quality of products and installation in the industry?
The GGF can only ensure the quality of its Member organisations. Hopefully the wider industry looks to and strives to achieve those high standards. That’s one of the reasons why consumers seek out GGF Member Companies because they know that they are reliable and adhere to the highest product and installation standards. The GGF brand is increasingly being recognised as a badge of quality and reassurance. This is why we’re seeing more and more companies join us.
4. How do companies become GGF accredited?
There is a strict criterion for full membership to the GGF which includes a minimum period of 3 years trading, financial stability and reputation.
However we have recently launched the GGF ‘Promotion Programme’ which is specifically for new and young companies who have been established for less than 3 years and therefore do not meet that first point of the criteria. The programme enables new and young companies to connect with the GGF, take advantage of all of the benefits of the scheme and have a dedicated member of GGF staff as a liaison contact, to assist a smooth transition to full GGF membership once the company becomes established for 3 years.
5. What is your affiliation with FENSA and how does this benefit the consumer?
My company (Lister Trade Frames) is a member of FENSA as are over 90% of the companies in our industry. FENSA was set up in 2002 by the GGF to head off plans by the Government which would have required every window and door installation having to be reported to and inspected by the Local Authorities Building Control. That legislation would have devastated our industry, but the introduction of self certification scheme through FENSA not only helped GGF Members, but it protected the whole industry.
FENSA is now supporting its members through the latest government legislation requiring that Installers give evidence that they are competent to fit windows and doors. Until now only the product’s compliance with building regulations was checked, but this year all Competent Persons Schemes will need to be given proof by the installer of their own Minimum Technical Competencies (MTCs). This is a major change but one which will bring us in-line with other professions such as gas fitters and electricians.
6. How do you protect consumers from rogue traders?
GGF Members have strict rules and guidelines that they agree to comply with. You can see this from the membership criteria. There will always be rogue traders out there and the GGF does all it can to direct consumers to use registered GGF Members who they can have confidence in. The GGF cannot police the industry but it can set the highest standards and be a beacon for consumers to turn to.
7. Do you have any ideas/plans that will change the industry completely?
My Presidency at the GGF has covered the most tumultuous time our industry has seen in decades (most of it not my fault 🙂 ) There has been a barrage of new government and European laws and legislation that have been and are being introduced right now. Things like the Green Deal, MTCs, CE-Marking, HSE charges, Recycling requirement are all adding costs to businesses and particularly to the SME’s. In the long run I believe that these changes will come to be seen as the time when our industry came of age and started to be recognised for its professionalism. In the short term though, many see it as a burden and it is our responsibility to offer as much support as we can to those who need it. This is another good reason for companies of all sizes to seriously consider joining the GGF and receive the support offered.
8. What is your view of the public perception of the GGF and consumer awareness of the GGF?
It can always be better! We can never be satisfied, but the GGF has made some significant strides forward. It has raised its image dramatically over the last two years with the launch of its new website to inform the public and promote our member’s businesses. We have held road shows and information events on some of the key issues facing our industry and given guidance on new legislation such as CE-Marking. The growing interest from consumers in the GGF is clearly seen in the ever growing numbers of visits to the GGF website and the enquiries that are made. Our presence at consumer shows and in the press continues to raise our image.
There is no doubt in my mind of the practical benefits of being a GGF member for companies large or small. Whether its technical or legislative advice that you need, or if it’s used as a badge to highlight your own company’s high standards in relation to your competitors, being a GGF member pays for itself.
The GGF brand is becoming more and more prominent year on year and its members shine out as a network of professionally minded businesses and individuals that are leading the field and appealing to the consumer.
9. What are your views on the Green Deal? Do you think it will be a success?
The Green Deal is the Governments flagship policy for improving the energy efficiency of domestic properties. It covers a multitude of retrofit products like boilers and solar panels and of course windows and doors. There was a lot of worry in our industry when the policy was first mooted, with some pundits predicting the end of double glazing as we know it! Fortunately that hasn’t happened as it has to date had very little impact and only a very small uptake by the public. In my opinion, this is mainly due to it being complicated, bureaucratic and carrying a hefty 8% interest rate collected through the homeowner’s future electricity bills.
There is no doubt that the scheme will grow and it may see the biggest uptake yet from local authorities, landlords and housing associations. This may be an area where Green Deal Accredited window installers can have a share of the initiative. But generally it has not made any fundamental changes to SME window installation businesses.