CEO Roger Hartshorn on Sheerline efficiency

In the middle of the pandemic, Garnalex CEO Roger Hartshorn explains why Sheerline will make it easier and faster to order, fabricate, install and sell aluminium windows and doors when the market reopens.People ask, why aluminium? I’ve spent my working life in windows, initially making thermal breaks for the leading aluminium systems of the 70s and 80s, before extruding for PVC-U systems companies in the 80s and 90s. We then founded, grew and sold Eurocell, and later Liniar. I’m still immensely proud of these two companies, and the employment and investment they’ve brought to my local community, Amber Valley in Derbyshire.

However, like a lot of the industry, I’m a convert to aluminium. Attraction turned into action when I listened to friends and former customers describe the poor service they experienced with aluminium suppliers, and the high material wastage in fabricating aluminium windows. If I could offer an aluminium system with the same service and support as PVC-U systems companies, they said, and improve the design it would be a roaring success. Looking with fresh eyes, I thought they were right.

I set up Garnalex and its aluminium extrusion factory – one of only four in the UK, developing GarnerSys, our bespoke software system to synchronise every element of production in this state-of-the-art factory to deliver quality products in short lead times. That means PVC lead-times, not aluminium. Most aluminium systems companies import or rely on one of these extruders for manufacture. Uniquely, we make our own range of thermal breaks and PVC-U trims too. This all-in-house approach enables Garnalex to control its supply chain, and achieve better quality, efficiency and service – backed by meaningful guarantees.

Sheerline is #AluminiumButNotAsYouKnowIt
When I looked at aluminium window systems and compared them with their PVC-U counterparts, I was surprised by their relative lack of innovation. There are reasons for that, but Sheerline started with a blank design sheet, free of the handcuffs of legacy designs or the high SKUs clutter of existing systems to constrain it. We also didn’t suffer from the aluminium insider ‘group think’ to set boundaries on our thinking. With a team of the most talented and experienced designers in the industry, we’ve challenged every aspect of aluminium window design and resolved a myriad of ‘that’s just how it is’ problems, both acknowledged and unacknowledged. The result is Sheerline, combining a series of exciting new innovations in a system that’s easier and quicker to fabricate, and easier to install. Sheerline passed PAS24:2016 security testing with outstanding results, exceeding the required load by more than three times! It’s uniquely balanced and beautiful – not my words, but one of the fabricators’ lined up to make it – making it a dream to sell.

A global crisis: Many things could have delayed the launch of Sheerline, but I’d not imagined a pandemic! Like most ‘Black Swan’ events, as rare ‘unforeseeable’ disruptions are known, Covid-19 came out of the blue. But massively disruptive events are not as rare as all that. Soon after we launched the Eurocell Ultimate 70mm system in 1993, the UK crashed out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and we suffered the worst financial crash since the 70s. And, after we’d ordered the tools and machinery for Liniar, Lehman Brothers bank collapsed, and we entered the deepest recession since the 1920s! Delaying the launch of Sheerline is frustrating, but the health of our staff and customers comes first. Sheerline Classic is ready to launch when the Government says we can. When it does, ambitious fabricators will be looking for a competitive edge, new products that will save them time, labour, and hassle – products with extra kerb appeal to help them grow rapidly. The innovations we’ve built into Sheerline will be even more relevant in what will surely be a tough, competitive market. Having seen global supply lines fracturing, with the unnecessary burden of additional carbon miles that come with imported products, I’m confident people will want to buy more sustainable British systems. Particularly when they’re more advanced, help reduce waste, and save them time, effort, and money. In the middle of a crisis it might sound strange to say but I’m really confident and optimistic about Sheerline and British manufacturing.

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