Clearview National January 2018 - Issue 194 - Page 42

DOORS&WINDOWS Door company in charge of its own destiny » » IT WAS EARLY DAYS WHEN DOORCO managing director Dan Sullivan spotted the potential of importing GRP doors into the UK. His skill at predicting what customers want led to his company building its own GRP composite door factory in South Korea – not to mention doubling turnover this year to over £18million. DOORCO is the manufacturer of the DOORCO composite door which is designed exclusively for the UK market. The unique designs and construction have made it a door of choice within the retail, new build and replacement housing construction sectors. It’s not hard to see why DOORCO is a force to be reckoned with when you meet MD Dan Sullivan. His story is about determination, refusal to compromise and a talent for spotting opportunities. This year has been a monumental year for his company. It marks his journey from being a distributor of the hugely popular Capstone door to building a new manufacturing facility and producing his own GRP composite door. During our visit to the company’s UK headquarters in Macclesfield, Dan led guests on a tour of his 36,000 sq ft factory and 40,000 sq ft warehouse. Overall investments of £758,000 have led to the business achieving some of the fastest lead times in the industry – not just on basic services like next day delivery for slabs, but on painted doors too. The company has put in a second edge bander and new beam saw which has allowed it to increase volumes (up to 800 doors a week) and reduce lead times for prepped door customers. There is also a state of the art paint plant. Senior production manager Matthew Le Masurier explained: “Two years ago about 18% of our total sales were painted doors. Today, that’s risen to well over 50% and the product mix is likely to continue in favour of painted doors. “The overall investment in the production line means we can concentrate on new products while our ‘bread and butter’ products are being managed at the same time.” 42 » JAN 2018 » CL EARVI E W- UK . C O M This year, most of the company’s growth has come from acquiring new customers. MD Dan said: “We have also introduced two new door models as well as the expansion in the production line, and have 28,000 to 30,000 door blanks at any one time. You might say we are not the size of some other companies but everything we have is all paid for – and we don’t have a cast of thousands in terms of shareholders. We have that control, and are in charge of our own destiny. That gives us the ability to change the business rapidly if we need to.” BUILDING THE BUSINESS Originally from a retail background, Dan was working for a door company in Macclesfield when he saw the potential for GRP doors in the UK. He recalled: “We had managed to get sales up to a certain level but our Achilles heel was external doors. Then we discovered there was a GRP door that was taking our business, and there was only one brand saturating the UK market. At the time, there was also a fall-off in timber and PVCu panels. “I was travelling extensively bringing in timber doors and then happened to find a GRP door supplier in Thailand. I bought a container full of GRP doors and sold it to a company in Leeds.” Dan went on to persuade the massive US manufacturer Capstone that there were opportunities for GRP doors in the UK. He said: “They were exporting a million blanks (unworked door panels) into the USA and weren’t interested in the UK market. It took me 12 months to persuade them. Initially, UK fabricators also weren’t interested but then IG Doors were the first to say ‘go and get these doors’ and the first order came from them.” Dan ultimately decided to set up his own factory in Korea in partnership with Tony Cha and build ‘a decent size business’ in the UK. The aim was to get into a position of 100% control, operating all three arms of the business – supplying door blanks, shipping in containers and manufacturing. Dan Sullivan He wanted to go further, continually growing the business and eventually innovating. He explained: “We built the business organically. It was slow but no-one could dictate what we were doing, and we didn’t owe anyone anything. Our problem initially was that we were always out of stock.” The UK competition was rising but Dan was already moving on in terms of innovation, looking at composite doors with a non- woodgrain, etched GRP skin that replicated an aluminium profile. He said: “We wanted something different. We were asking the customers what they needed, not telling them. We were much more open to the customers’ needs. If they wanted a door delivered with a bow on it, then that’s what they got.” CUSTOMER CARE DoorCo’s strategy is to focus on customer care despite its rapid growth. Its Project Diamond scheme is about managing growth to maintain, streamline and future-proof high service levels without sacrifice. Handling an unlimited number of prep options and configurations, results show the system is already saving customers’ time and giving them greater flexi