At golf tournaments, Saturday is referred to as Moving Day, when players are jockeying for position on the leaderboard ready for an assault on the title on the Sunday. 2015 was one big moving day for DOORCO in one way or another and Chris Champion, Editor of Glass News talks to the Managing Director of DOORCO, Dan Sullivan, about the company’s move in the marketplace.
Ed: The most significant move for DOORCO in 2015 has to be the new premises although product sales have been impressive, too.
Dan Sullivan: The analogy of Moving Day is quite accurate. 2015 has been a great year but we all honestly think 2016 will be even better. We grew by 25% overall in 2015 and have budgeted for a 30% growth in 2016 although we all feel that may be pessimistic. Acquiring the new premises including warehousing, manufacturing area and offices all in one place, is ideal for us….and literally round the corner.
Ed: The fact that it is still on Charter Way is amazing. How did that come about?
Dan Sullivan: It was pure luck. We had been looking for some time and, one day, one of the girls came back from lunch saying that all the staff at the premises next door were out in the car park. My immediate thought was that they must have gone into administration and I walked round and asked one of the staff. That was exactly what had happened and I asked who the landlord was and I was pointed to a guy across the car park. He told me that the company had gone bust owing him rent and he was obviously pretty unhappy and I asked him if I could look around the place. He told me that the administrators were keeping everyone out. By the time I’d mentioned that I’d take a lease on the place if he could persuade the administrators to let us go inside, he’d sorted it and that was it. A new home for DOORCO!
Ed: If there have been any negative comments over recent years about DOORCO, it has probably been about stock. Is the move to bigger premises all about remedying that?
Dan Sullivan: There have certainly been occasions when we probably should have had larger stock holding – not to satisfy our own customer demands so much as to supply customers from rival companies who were short of stock themselves!
We really haven’t required vast stockholding because, although doors blanks are coming from the Far East, our lead time is 5 weeks, not the normal 12 weeks for product from that part of the world. That difference in lead time has been very significant in that we really only need to hold 5 weeks stock at any time. Of course, in practice, we actually hold more than that and, with the new 40,000 sq ft, plus our other warehouse from where we top up our stock at Charter Way, we will hold 16,000 to 20,000 relevant blanks at any one time. When I say relevant, I mean that all stock is up to date and will pass any new PAS24 cutting test. There is also considerable volume of door blanks going to direct container customers.
Ed: You have always had a very loyal customer base…
Dan Sullivan: I think that is down to a number of things. Our customers are our partners and we try to provide a great service, and they pay their bills! I know everyone will say this but in our case it is true. We deal with like-minded people. There is an honesty in our dealings which may be strange in this day and age but, fortunately, there are other people with the same standards as us…loyalty, honesty, enjoyment in working together and producing the best possible product for the market.
Ed: There is much being said now about new cutting tests in PAS 24 (2016) and how the polyurethane foam filled GRP door blank is at a disadvantage…
Dan Sullivan: …and innovating. There is a lot being written about PAS 24 as it makes for good news story, but its old news to us, we made improvements to our products nearly 2 years ago, and we continue to make improvements to our products
The point is that we can react to change very quickly and I think it surprises customers when they make a suggestion or ask for something different and a sample is being flown in almost immediately.
Ed: Just before we leave the issue of PAS 24, is the test realistic given the choice of tools….chisels, Stanley knife and so on? Everyone knows that the standard Stanley knife now gets wrapped to provide greater leverage and use high tensile blades as opposed to the original specification of a standard blade…
Dan Sullivan: The test is whatever it is, and DOORCO will ensure that the doors conform to that standard in the most cost effective way possible. If you are asking whether the test is realistic in this day and age and whether a prospective burglar would use those tools or choose to break in through a front door, the answer is probably no. But it is what it is and however a test may be changed, we shall always ensure that the DOORCO product conforms.
Ed: Another ‘move’ is in the area of staffing. Last time I was here you had around 18 staff. That is up to around 30 now and includes your wife, Jayne, who has moved from a very senior director position with Ernst and Young, and Matt Le Mesurier who has had a lot of experience at DoorStop. Those two alone must have changed the dynamic in the company.
Dan Sullivan: It has, and things have changed very quickly. It was a big decision for Jayne to leave a very high paid job and join DOORCO. Her experience of systems and procedures has improved the whole service offered to our customers and, with the company growing so rapidly, we needed a more professional and streamlined approach to take the company to the next level – we have taken steps to achieve this, but still have some way to go and this will continue to be one of Jayne’s key focus through the first half of 2016 with additional team members, more focus on customer service and new software investment across all areas of the business.
In the case of Matt joining us in his Senior Production Manager role, that has been an eye opener! I thought that his experience at Doorstop would mean constant demands for more and better machines but it is just the opposite. He looks for efficiency in every manufacturing procedure and takes great pride in finding the best way of producing quality products without spending additional cash.
Ed: The final ‘move’ is product. It seems you are constantly innovating and whenever I have visited DOORCO there has been new product under test. What drives this innovation?
Dan Sullivan: It’s mostly me, I’m afraid! We have a tremendous relation with the factory in Korea and, if an idea comes to me or is suggested by a customer and it makes sense, then we’re straight on it. A good example is the Combi door which, by redesigning the tools for the GRP skins, we have been able to reduce stocking requirements for both us and our customers. One door design allows the combination of designs that used to require a 4 panel and 6 panel door.
Additionally, the Smart door is a pre-apertured 4 panel door – in other words, routed to take twin vertical glazing. This reduces waste for us in our manufacturing of prepped doors and for our customers who have CNCs. People are inclined to forget the high costs of waste disposal and, added to that, the saving in tool costs and time, too.
Ed: This re-engineering of tooling is costly. Surely it’s around £30K to £60K to produce a new tool?
Dan Sullivan: In our case, it’s significantly more, as We produce very high quality tooling with long lifespan and very low degradation in definition of the graining. Again, this is something we have learned over the last 10 years. Our tools will produce in excess of 1 million door blanks.
The high cost is down to the hand graining of the tools and this is key to performance. Not only does the grain need to look good, aesthetically, but the spread of the grain is what provides the keying for quality painting.
Ed: You have an impressive paint spraying facility and a large oven…
Dan Sullivan: …which is about to be doubled in size! We can paint to any RAL colour – both here and in Korea. It has never been a case of just the standard colours of White, Black, Red, Blue, Green and a couple of Woodgrains. If a container customer wants all their door blanks in Canary Yellow, it’s not a problem. Equally, if a smaller customer wants a different colour for each of their prepped doors, we are happy to accommodate them.
Ed: And 2016?
Dan Sullivan: As I said earlier, 2016 is a year when DOORCO will see big growth. We now have the premises, staff, the products, and the stock to expand our customer base. Even more new products will be launched and an additional edgebander is on order to add to our three CNCs.
DOORCO has the best imported door blank in the UK and what we do in 2016 will reinforce that statement. If 2015 was Moving Day in your golfing analogy, then 2016 is the Sunday, and the day to win!