Women in construction; manufacturing firm tackles gender divide

Women in construction; There are many industries that are seen as male dominated, but few as much as construction.  Our family run industrial firm, based in the Midlands, want to show the trade that things are changing. Women are finding niches in every industry, including construction, showcasing the importance of inclusion.

According to UCATT, only 11% of construction workforce is female, and only 1% of workers on site are women. In fact, the Office for National Statistics states that the number of women in construction working as roofers, bricklayers and glaziers is so low, the numbers are unmeasurable. However, we’ve proved that the statistics are changing, and it isn’t all ‘doom and gloom’.

Tracey Jackson, our wonderful marketing manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “Whether you are a woman or a man, there is room for you within the construction industry.  For women in construction, picking the job, and company for you will be your first hurdle, but your success will completely be down to your tenacity and dedication to pursuing and developing your skill set.  There is a lot of support out there and we’re hoping to help women access the tools they need to ‘get ahead’ within construction. As a business, Howells Patent Glazing have always been a gender neutral business, and we’re hoping that by encouraging women to pursue a career in the industry, we can help to break some of the barriers that women feel are holding them back”.

Ranstad’s study ‘Women in Construction Industry 2016’ states that, by 2020, women are expected to make up at least a quarter of the construction workforce. The study also indicates that women’s pay packets rose by 6% per year between 2005 and 2015, and the number of females in senior roles within the industry was up to 16% in 2015.  A quarter of those in senior management roles earned more than £75,000 and 2% earned over £100,000 per year.

Debbie and Tracey from Howells Patent Glazing wave the flag for women in construction.

Tracey Jackson from Howells Patent Glazing explains why there should be more women interested in working within the construction industry.

The advice from us here at Howells Patent Glazing is that businesses are the ones who need to take charge, and drive change in order to attract more women into the industry. There’s currently a skills shortage within construction, and we believe that fellow companies need to harness and nurture the dynamics that women can bring to a workforce, in order to fill the void and bring the industry into the 21st century working environment.

To find out more about Howells Patent Glazing, visit www.howellsglazing.co.uk


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Marking the Days in March

March has seen many developments, but it has been also a tale of two very diverse stories this month, with it containing a celebration and a very sad farewell.

Colin Boyle was a long serving employee  of  9 years, who retired over 9 years ago, whilst we were at our last premises on Forge Lane, Cradley Heath.  Colin was our estimator for windows for our supply and install side of the business. He was much loved by all our staff so it was an emotional goodbye to a lovely gentleman.

To the other extreme, Walter Howells, our Managing Director has celebrated his 70th birthday this month!

He started the business in 1973 in the front room of his 2 up 2 down in Walsall with his wife Patricia.  At that time he was supplier and subcontract labour only.  The business developed over the next 10 years and by that time they moved to an office only above Castle Glass just outside Dudley Town Centre.  As the business grew, Walter decided better control was needed for the manufacturing process and lead times, so he took the leap and brought his first manufacturing premises in Junction Street in Dudley, West Midlands.

At this time he started to employ more and more people and these included 2 of his 3 children.  Gary, moved into manufacturing and sales and Debbie into accounts and admin.  It was not long after this that Dave joined the company in around 1996 and this saw the beginning of the development of office and admin staff support.

In 1997, the business could no longer operate with the limitations of the small factory, so another move occured to a 13000 sq ft factory on Forge Lane, Cradley Heath.  Walters remaining daughter joined the team, as a PA and contract support at this point. The staff levels increased to around 25 people here and manufacturing was happening all the time, even weekends to catch up.

It is also during this time frame that Walter joined CAB (council for aluminium in building), he became chairman of the Patent Glazing division and was pivitble  in writing the standards for Patent Glazing.

Manufacturing really took off by 2008 and more space was needed to really develop the Rooflight side of the business.  A new 20000 sq ft factory was acquired, on Woods Lane, Cradley Heath  and this is where we reside today.  Our staff have increased to 40 people and our accounts have never been stronger.


Phew!  Its safe to say that there have been a lot of moves and changes over the years and not to mention the impact of the recessions and high interest rates, but Walter has weathered all the storms to realize great success and respect from his peers.





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RISQS accreditation – Howells Patent Glazing gain accreditation for rail contracts!

We have achieved RISQS accreditation from the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) after flying through the scheme’s rigorous audits last month!

RISQS is a supplier qualification scheme that audits and assesses suppliers in order to pre-qualify businesses to work with over 110 buying organisations throughout the UK.  The RISQS accreditation means that we are now able to tender for work within railway stations via infrastructure buyers, Network Rail, Transport for London and other train operating companies.

Tracey Jackson, marketing manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “We’re so proud of our team for helping us to achieve RISQS accreditation. We have all worked so hard in order to make sure that all of our systems and communications run like a well-oiled engine in order to pass RISQS rigorous audits. This is a big deal for our firm, and knowing that we are competing with some huge names in the industry is an incredible feeling. We’re looking forward to making the most of our new accreditation and seeing what 2017 has in store for our business”.


Howells Patent Glazing - RISQS Accreditation

Howells Patent Glazing achieve prestigious RISQS Accreditation

Having previously worked on railway stations including: Windsor Royal, Bristol Temple Meads, Melton Mowbray, Loughborough, Stoke-On-Trent and Kettering to name a few, we’re well on its way to becoming the first choice provider of patent glazing systems for rail stations across the UK!

Not only have we had 40 years’ worth of experience in the industry, but we’ve boasted new product launches, a collaboration with industry giant Pilkington UK to launch their Suncool One 60/40 glass, record breaking turnover and workplace NVQ’s for all staff – and that was just in 2016! Howells are set to go from strength to strength over the course of 2017, and hope that by investing in our marketing and trade-show appearances, we will see another 40 years of success.

Don’t forget to come and find us at The FIT Show on the 23rd-25th May, stand number CAB04, NEC Hall 8.

Read more about us at Specification Online!


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Hoorah! Howells Patent Glazing will exhibit at The FIT Show!

We’re really excited to announce that Howells Patent Glazing are exhibiting at this year’s FIT Show!
By exhibiting at this years FIT Show, we’re ticking off a ‘first’ from our business bucket list.

In four years, The FIT Show has grown to become the primary exhibition for the fenestration industry. The show brings manufactures of windows, doors, flat glass and conservatories as well as installers, designers, self-builders and fabricators, together in one enormous event.  According to The FIT Show team, this year’s event will be as much as 60% bigger than any previous exhibition they have hosted.

Howells Patent Glazing will be at the FIT Show!

Tracey Jackson, marketing manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said:

“I am really excited to be a part of such a fantastic show. Howells have attended the last two at the Telford International Centre, but this year will be the first time we have ever exhibited. We’re hoping to meet lots of new potential customers and suppliers during our visit.  We see this show as a huge stepping stone to bigger and better things for our family run business”.

Here at Howells Patent Glazing, we think The FIT Show will be a new marketing vehicle for our business. Our firm has boasted new product launches, a collaboration with industry giant Pilkington UK to launch their Suncool One 60/40 glass, record breaking turnover and workplace NVQ’s for all staff – and that was just in 2016!

We’re ready to go from strength to strength over the course of 2017. We hope that by investing in our marketing and trade-show appearances, we’ll see another 40 years of success!

Find Howells Patent Glazing at The FIT Show on the 23rd-25th May. Stand number CAB04, NEC Hall 8

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How the City of culture can help local business

The rail industry is working together to deliver over £50 billion in a Railway Upgrade Plan: the biggest programme of improvements in rail since the 19th Century.



Investment is at its highest since the Victorian times and there will is a lot of work going on as the railway infrastructure etc has to be modernised to keep up with modern day living and as you can see a lot of money is being spent in the foreseeable future. Apart from work being carried out on improving railway stations the tracks, signalling etc will also be involved in this process.

Construction industry should take heed as this is a great and exciting opportunity to get involved and gain work in the railway infrastructure. To get any tenders from the rail industry is to get on the supply chain we at Howells have recently joined Railtrack as being one of their suppliers and for this we had to be Risk Approved by Achilles. This involved an auditor coming in and seeing that all our policies, risk assessments etc were bang up-to-date so we could join the list of suppliers.   All this involves us being RISQS approved (Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme) This is owned and governed by the rail industry. This has enabled us to demonstrate our capability and market our product and service whilst complying with industry standards.

Cultural Heritage

Railways have been part of our cultural heritage for nearly 200 years now and shall be for the foreseeable future.  When railways were introduced many people were actually suspicious of this form of transport, the very idea seems ludicrous now.

The first class reclined in luxury, not quite the same today but still quite plush compartments. The third class were given a rough deal though, travelling in open top goods wagons, the very idea seems appalling.  Although there have been a lot of complaints from passengers about overcrowded trains in this day and age we have still come a long way from the past, don’t you think!

There is something romantic about taking a great train journey and visiting a beautiful train station. An Ionic train station makes one feel nostalgic and evoke a mixture of excitement and wonder especially if travelling for pleasure.

Working with English Heritage

The English Heritage has listed its choice of 10 great railway stations which are certainly spectacular.  The list starts with London Paddington, and ends at St Pancras, where there is a larger than life statue of Betjeman.   Recently the growth of high speed rail has been accompanied by an interest in restoring and building train stations.  In London workers cleaned 300,000 pounds of dirt from the neo Gothic brick facade of St Pancras and restored 8000 glass roof panes.

Newcastle Central, Tyne & Wear which three arched glass roofs built in a curve It was the first true iron and glass vault on a giant scale and the ancestor of other great city station train sheds.


We have some beautiful buildings housing train stations across the country, such as Bristol Temple Meads, which we at Howells have taken part in refurbishing. This was designed by the British Engineer Ismbard Kingdom Brunel, as you know is world famous.


Our local station Great Malvern was designed by EW Elmslie in the Gothic style.   I have been to Malvern many times I would recommend taking a look the next time you visit this beautiful region.




Refurbishing railway stations, beautiful as some of them are takes a lot of red tape and work behind the scenes and we at Howells have a lot of experience in station refurbishment. We have worked at Windsor Royal, Temple Meads, Melton, Mowbry., Loughborough, Shrub Hill, Stoke and Kettering.

We at Howells Glazing hope in the future to play a small part in restoring railway stations to their former glory and you could too.





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Black Country pride; Howells Patent Glazing delve into the history of Black Country glass making

Here at Howells Patent Glazing, we’re a proud bunch; especially when it comes to our industrial history. Fabricating and manufacturing isn’t unusual in this area of the Midlands, and the team behind our 40 year old firm have decided to take a look into the history of the area, and our roots in the industry.

The Black Country is an area in the West Midlands generally agreed to include Dudley, Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Walsall. However, there’s more to the Black Country than just the distinctive ‘Marmite’ accent.

Howells Patent Glazing, our industry trusted patent glazing and rooflight firm, are based in the heart of the Black Country. Industry roots date back to around the 17th century, coinciding with the discovery of an abundance of coal, iron ore and clay, making it an ideal location for the birth of industry in the Midlands. In the 1960’s, the Black Country was described as the best area for glass making in the country.

Tracey Jackson, our marketing manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “The Black Country has once again become an industry hive for most areas of manufacture. There are so many skilled people around here, who aren’t afraid of a little hard work, who make Midlands businesses so strong. We’re proud of who we are, and where we are from. Our family run firm have been based in Cradley Heath for over 40 years, and its heritage is important to us – It feels good to take a deeper look into the roots of glass making in this area”.

The development of the canal network meant that products and outputs were able to become larger as transport became easily accessible. The fruits of the local area became most relevant when the use of trees was banned in furnaces in 1615. An abundance of coal, silica and clay provided the ideal materials for glass making. Skills in the craft of glass making had to be acquired rapidly, and small scale glass makers became very popular.

Patent Glazing - The Crystal Palace

The Chance Brothers, a historic Black Country glassworks provided glass for the famous Crystal Palace building.

However, glass making on a much larger scale soon became possible. The Chance Brothers in Smethwick produced glass in such large quantities in the 19th century that it supplied the glass for the celebrated Crystal Palace. Other notable landmarks that have used Black Country glass are the windows in the Houses of Parliament, the glass used in the clock tower that houses Big Ben, and the Whitehouse in the USA.

With such rich history in the industry and glass making, it’s no surprise that the Black Country inspired the fabrication of systems to hold and support architectural glass. Long after the closure of the mines and the shutdown of steel mills and foundries, industry still survives in the West Midlands, albeit on a smaller scale.

Whilst we may not have been founded four centuries ago, our family team remain proud to have been born and raised in the Black Country. Innovation and hard work are the new resources mined in the Midlands, and show no signs of running out any time soon!


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Will the Trump effect boost British manufacturing?


In the wake of Donald Trump’s US presidential win, the team at Cradley Heath based manufacturing firm Howells Patent Glazing are considering what impact the new presidency will have on the economy and our 40 year old family run British manufacturing business.

A large proportion on the UK’s relationship with the US is built on trade. Before the EU referendum, President Obama stated that the UK would be put to the “back of the queue” for US trade deals if they voted out of the EU. However, Trump stated that it would make no difference if the UK is in the EU or not, and that he was keen to strike a new trade deal with the UK. So what does this mean for British manufacturing?

Trump’s proposed trade policies aren’t as good for the UK as they seem and include a 10% tariff on all imports, which could spell trouble for the UK’s smaller manufacturers and exporters. The US is the UK’s second largest export destination, with around one-fifth of all of our exports landing there, just behind Europe who remain Britain’s largest trading partner. With a turbulent, and unpredictable trade year to come in 2017, here at Howells we believe that the effects on the manufacturing industry will mirror that of the effect Brexit had, but on a larger scale.

Tracey Jackson, marketing manager at Howells Patent Glazing said, “With Brexit, we saw a surprising increase in homeowners and local builders taking a hands-on approach to construction by cutting out the middle man. With Trump about to take power in the US, and trade relationships uncertain, we believe that the manufacture and supply industry will see a surge in UK businesses searching for products that are made and distributed within the UK. Products made in the UK will stay in the UK, and that’s an exciting thing for us here at Howells – as a nation, we will start supporting ‘British Made’ goods once again”.

Whether our success post-Brexit was an indicator for what is to come for the British manufacturing and supply businesses after Trump’s election is yet to be seen. However, our firm remains positive, hoping that the new, self-build and ‘Made-in-Britain’ trend will start to change the way the UK construction industry makes money, with UK businesses buying from each other once again.

Tracey Jackson concludes, “It’s time for the UK to take back control of its own economy. The only way that we think that will work is for UK businesses to start buying and selling to and from fellow British manufacturing business again. It’s a good place to start”.

For more information on Howells Patent Glazing, please visit www.howellsglazing.co.uk

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Making Business New Year Resolutions

How to make business New year’s resolutions


New year’s resolutions are not just for personal needs, but also can be used for business.  Like with anything, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Looking forward for 12 months can be a helpful tool to ensure that everyone is in line with your vision for the future and helps focus the drive and direction of the company in the coming months.


How do we achieve this? I hear you cry..  It is surprisingly easier than you would think.  By focusing on key areas of the business, you can predict your own success.  This brief will help you select which areas to work on, how to achieve those goals and then most importantly recognizing when you have achieved them


What areas to select

This will depend on your business and its current position in the market place.  This is where you take a hard look at the business, together with a snapshot of the company accounts (profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow forecast), orders on the books and those pending.

By having this information you can assess where you are currently, to enable you to move forward you need to be realistic about where you are now.  Hard facts are important.

Then you need to ask yourself, if it were possible, what would you like to realistically achieve over the next 12 months?  An increase in sales, this could involve longer working hours?  Better profit margins, this could involve finding cheaper suppliers or developing new ordering strategies, such as ‘just in time’ mythologies.

How to achieve

Once you have decided which areas you wish to develop for your new year resolutions, then it is time to act.  Write down each point that you want to improve in the coming year and then break them down into small manageable steps with a time line.

For example:


Find cheaper supplier, improve gross profit margin by 2%

Step one – What are you paying for stock currently                            By end January

Step two – Research the market place, get contact details for new suppliers and set up meetings  by end March

Step three – Analyse findings and compare results. By end April

Step four – Give notice if you are in any contracts and instruct new supplier (this could take 90 days) – by end August

Step five – trial new supplier and anaylse quarter data, has the change of supplier worked/are you happy.


Recognising success

The best way to recognise success is by looking at the impact the changes have made over a set/predetermined timeframe.  This is where setting the resolution comes into play again, what was your aim?  Then asking the question, did I meet the target I set?

If we use the example set earlier, then the target was to increase profit margin by 2% by sourcing a new supplier.  This can be drilled down into quarters, by December you should be at the end of the first quarter of changes.  What is the trend?  Can you tell from your figures whether the new supplier is meeting the price guarantee?  This should be clear from the projection versus the actual.  Also to understand whether the new supplier is a successful move, you need to look at the bigger picture, are they meeting deadlines, quality etc.  If the answer is no then the process needs to resolved or started again.

This process gets repeated with each resolution that has been agreed.


In conclusion, planning for a future can be beneficial and can put you in control of your business.  The question of how do we achieve resolutions is answered simply, by planning an achievable goal and devising simple small steps to get there.  If at any predetermined deadline the target is not met, then put extra resources or time to the problem and success will be just a short hop away.







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Howells Year in Review

Our Year in Review; what was good, what was bad, and what was even better for Howells Patent Glazing UK.

Well, what a year 2016 has been!  We started in a haze of bad weather, (everyone in the trade knows that snow, ice and severe weather is a roofers worst enemy!)  and then turned it all around at the end of the company year in August to be our best year for turnover to date!  What a ride!


The year has seen a new direction for us in the retraining of our staff.  Now, all but handful of staff are undertaking NVQ’s at level 3,4 and 5.  They have also had to undertake their functional skills in English, Maths and, in some cases, ICT at level 1 and 2 too.  This will continue on into next year, but by the end of 2017, most of the work force will have completed their current courses.


We have teamed up with Dudley College for the training of our staff, and they not only attend for the lessons, but also oversee the exams here too.  We have had NVQ courses running in Leadership and Management, ICT, PCO and BIT.


It has also been a year for Charity here at Howells Patent Glazing. We have supported a bike rides from London to Brighton by one of our suppliers for the British Heart Foundation and made donations to the Teenage Cancer Trust and Melanoma UK.  We also donated to Ellowes Hall senior citizens Christmas lunch and to our local food bank.


2016 has seen a couple of our staff beginning to starting to give blood at our nearest major blood bank in the center of Birmingham. We are super proud of them!


Preparations have started to get ready for our very first trade show in May of 2017 at The Fit Show in the NEC – One of the biggest shows for glazing UK – where we have designed and ordered our stand to be specially built for us, have had a video recorded and are just finalizing and undertaken new testing of our product range all in readiness for this new enterprise.


We have undertaken stringent testing of our UK glazing materials, and designed and built a new test rig for impact testing of our roofs.  Howells also commercially released our new trade range of ready built rooflights, and added new lines to the product range.


Our social reach has also had a massive explosion, thanks to our new PR company Preach PR and Yogurt Top Marketing, scaling to an impressive 31157 people reached in ONE POST on our Facebook page for a contract we completed for Aldi!  We had a new strategy for 2016 and it clearly has worked.


2016 has had many highs, seeing many new and  existing customers continuing to love and use our glazing UK services.  These include end users of Aldi, Leeds City College, Bourton Meadow School and Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.

Leeds College

Another first for 2016 was that we started entering business enterprise competitions with the Express and Star Business awards, National Apprenticeship Awards 2016 and Made in the Midlands 2016.  We were amazed that on our first application we were shortlisted for  the Apprenticeship & Training Award for Midlands insider, Made in the Midlands and got through to the Semi Final!  We may not have won, but how fantastic it was to come so far, first time!

made in the midlands

All in all, we are really happy with 2016, everything has ended on a high, and we have so many exciting new challenges to look forward to for 2017!

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So, just how has the US elections affected the UK

So, just how has the US elections affected the UK?

Trumping over the UK economy

by Tracey Jackson)

The world has been very involved in the recent American election battle between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, and two other candidates that no one knew about.  Both parties had their strengths and their weaknesses.

The world has watched with bated breath for the outcome and with all the copious amounts of mudslinging and character assignations, almost like a car crash unfolding in front of us, who will be selected, how will this affect us in the UK? The World?

The Independent saw Clinton winning as a negative result for Russia but that China had a really good existing trade relationship that needed maintaining.

In the run up to the election, Business and financial institutions across the World were poised for a hard ride come election day, with either result could push the economy either way.  It was by no means a done deal as opinion was divided, right up to the last vote being cast.  In the end Trump won with 276 votes and was a clear winner.

In his victory speech, Trump promised to double the US growth and strengthen the economy.  As a businessman, he says that in his experience, he has seen lots of untapped potential all over the world.  As a President, he has vowed to bring  together the US parties and have a united people.

He has a plan for see national growth and for the US to have the strongest economy in the world.  He wants to build on relationships with the world.

Following the election, US markets dropped down 900 points, which in comparison to Brexit  of 610 points, was considerably lower. Globally, our pound dropped massively following the vote, but by opening play of our markets had recovered its position.   Immediately following the result, the Mexican peso dropped nearly 13%, the Austrialia ASX 200 went down 2.1%, Japan, Nikkei 225 down 6%, China Shanghai Composit  – 1.0% and Hong Kong Hang Seng -3%.  The UK markets dropped by 2% when they opened but then recovered up by 60 points at the end of the day.  Banks in particular saw big profits by then end of the day.


Looking forward, predictions are for minimal growth and possible volatile markets for the first quarter of 2017.  On the subject of whether the new President is a good thing for UK business and Finance, well with promises of closer business ties with the US, it remains to be seen.


Information from:




Business insider

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