One of the UK’s most successful door company’s takes to the stage with a cast of new products for the home renovation and property development markets.
The name has been out there earning rave reviews for more than twenty-five years, but until now – for us at least – it really was a case of what goes on behind closed doors at the Ballymena manufacturing home of Apeer. So, it was not before time in early March that we made the short hop over the Irish Sea to discover that the nearby Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills whisky distillery and Royal Portrush Golf Club are not the only legendary attractions in town.
The business was started in the 1980s by astute entrepreneur Austin McGillan, who saw an opportunity to distribute an extensive range of tools, fixings, and screws to the local construction industry. Today, that business, whilst still going strong, plays second fiddle to the company’s main focus, which for a quarter of a century has concentrated on composite doors and the highly distinctive Lumi window range, with its full glass profiles in place of traditional frames.
A dominate force in the home market, it has its sights set firmly on expanding its extensive product portfolio into the rest of the UK, and to that end is half way through a five year investment plan to increase capacity and efficiency. A new 20,000 factory extension, combined with further upgrades in production facilities, means that all services are now fully self-contained, including the production of door blanks through to completed door sets, fabrication of windows, sliding and entrance doors and, most significantly, all of its glass requirements. A new CNC precision water jet cutting machine has recently been installed to make the unusually complex cuts required for Lumi doors and windows, whilst one of the industry’s few privately owned forced convection furnaces allows toughened glass production in sheet sizes up to 5m x 2.8m.
Significant investment has also been made in what is, quite literally, the company’s core business – composite doors – where two paint lines and a second insulating core press used for the production of the company’s GRP faced door panels will allow more than 1,000 two colour doors to be manufactured each week.
All of which brings a smile to the face of Asa McGillan, son of the founder and MD who told us: “The completion of the new extension fulfils many of the company’s plans for growth. The additional space does far more than simply allow new machines to be installed. We have now been able to re-plan the whole facility to create more logical production flow lines and logical consequences, all of which will give us significant increases in output, as well as flexibility in these somewhat uncertain economic times.”
He continues: “We are most proud of our glass processing facility, which allows us to cope with the increasingly large Lumi doors being ordered for prestigious new builds, as well as the demands for Apeer composite doors for which we also produce decorative glass units in our own studio. In fact, I believe our doors have a greater UK sourced content than the vast majority of similar composite door brands sold in Britain and Ireland. We are proud of that, and of our video-based quality control system, which has helped us achieve a very impressive right first-time rate of 98 per cent.
“With all this investment in production now in place, our next focus is on marketing the brand to a wider audience, and a number of exceptional support programmes are being developed to complete the circle of manufacturing, distribution and end user satisfaction. Our composite doors, especially the Silka range, and new Lumi replacement windows launched last year, have been extremely well received, and we will be working even harder during the next twelve months to ensure this continues.”
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