The café was the place to be, beautiful and homely. The staff whisked dirty plates and cups off tables with smiles that were contagious. The queue was small and always shrinking and the man at the counter was happily laughing with each customer, maintaining eye contact yet never seeming intrusive. The café was the place to be.

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Do they really value us?

Spending money is easier than earning it and Customer service plays a huge part when splashing your hard earned money. We all want to be treated with kindness and made to feel like a valued customer when we buy products from businesses , after all money doesn’t grow on trees and we spend precious time and our energy on earning it. Find out if your custom is appreciated or not…

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Does this sound like good service to you?

Service should not be discriminative, we should all be treated like royalty when we spend our hard earned cash. We’ve reviewed these two services and here’s what we found about company standards in Britain.

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The Light House Project….. buying a new house


I am in the process of buying a new house, or ‘the light house project’ as I like to call it. It should be an exciting time I know, but the process is more likely to make you bald than happy. What is it that makes us fall in love with a house and want to go through those miserable months of endless paperwork, clearouts and chasing?


25 is probably about the number of houses I viewed before deciding on ‘the one’. There were about a dozen factors taken into consideration from location to loos but one relevant to our business was daylight.


I discounted numerous potential homes because of the lack of daylight. Think of the phrases we use like ‘a light, bright airy home’ for example. It’s not just simply the amount of light let in, but a feeling that affects our mood and behaviour. We think of a bright room as cleaner, happier and more welcoming.


Studies have even shown the positive effects of natural daylight on hospital patients, decreasing their recovery time. Also education settings – children score better in tests when they have been taught in schools with higher levels of daylight. Even shopping malls can be more profitable with more natural daylight, lifting the mood of its many shoppers.


For those of you about to sell a dark house with a north facing garden……I wish you luck. Maybe stick in a rooflight or 2 to boost your chances of selling!




Hathaway et all 1992 A Study into the Effects of Light on Children of Elementary School-Age–A Case of Daylight Robbery

Man Young Park et al 2018 The Effects of Natural Daylight on Length of Hospital Stay

Choi et al, 2012 Impacts of indoor daylight environments on patient average length of stay (ALOS) in a healthcare facility.

Heschong et al, 2013 Daylighting Impacts on Retail Sales Performance








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Brexit, the Good the Bad and Fenestration

The ‘B’ word comprised of 6 letters that have caused grown men to cry.  But for a British SME….. is it a good thing, or bad?

The Good

It is agreed by mostly all, that we want/need to achieve a unified end to our EU negotiations and that a structured exit will be the most beneficial to the economy and commerce.

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The question that is on most manufacturers lips at the moment is whether testing is necessary on their products, or should they cap their costs and stop with just bringing products to the shelves?

We are so proud of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes with innovation and development of our range.  That took the decision to verify this independently, through a testing agent.  We believe in our quality and we want our customers to have the assurance that an authorised and independent body believes in it too.

We believe testing can establish performance and design limitations within products to allow further innovation OR even confirm superior achievements have been surpassed!

The testing that is undertaken on our products isto satisfy the National and International standard.  This will enable us currently to supply to Europe, but whether this will continue on a no deal Brexit exit from the EU, who knows……  The distressing fact for British manufacturers or suppliers is that there could be a possibility of having to have TWO tests, one for Europe and another for Britain.  This will affect the pocket of the manufacturer, unless something is sorted.

If you are going down the road of having your products tested and then certified by an independent company, what should you look for in the business and how do you know that they meet the current standards themselves?

Its important to pick a company that has been tested to an industry standard and that list their accreditation number underneath their certificate.  Our testing partner Wintech are annually audited to ensure that they can not only test to the UK standard



This is the accreditation logo that needs to be seen


but also that they can audit these companies themselves and are registered to complete and issue certification to a UK standard.




This is the accreditation logo



The type of testing that can be undertaken can give that assurance that products can withstand our weather system, a perfect example would be in 2016 Storm Jonas hit the UK with a devastating force, bring winds across the UK up to 65 mph!   Wouldn’t you like the assurance that if you were purchasing windows or doors for your home that they had been weathertightness (wind, snow and rain) tested AND certified?  Rather than the alternative…… fingers crossed, let’s hope for the best!


With the constant warning of impending and current climate change causing weather chaos on a seemingly regular basis, surely our fenestration products should all be of a standard that they keep these conditions OUTSIDE the home?


Testing isn’t only necessary for industrial facades for shopfronts or high-rise business units, which in itself can highlight potential wind load failure of giant panes of glass being ‘blown’ from a building during a storm, resulting in a ’back to the drawing board’ moment to tweak their new designs.  It is testing on domestic windows and even air leakage tests on ALL new builds.





The standard should be widely known by consumers on all levels, just as we are getting more familiar with energy rating on buildings and appliances that are currently bought and sold.    We all need to know the quality of the goods we buy, whether it be for commercial or our domestic home needs.    We SHOULD know the answer to simple questions like; “Will my home be warm when it is cold outside” and can this be verified by a recognised industry body.


So, to test or not to test…. The best way to answer the question is to ask it with another one…. If you had a choice, would you buy a product that had been independently tested for quality, or one that the representative, sales man, said met the standard?  Think of a car, would you buy the one with the MOT or the one without and hope for the best……….

The proof is in the testing.

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Howells Patent Glazing is pleased to announce the launch of its new roof vent system.  Designed to integrate with the company’s patent glazing bars, the vent is also compatible with other systems.  For complete flexibility, it can be accommodated into any application with overhead glazing, both single and double glazed.  The vent attains the best achievable results when independently tested (Wintech) for air permeability, water tightness and wind resistance.


NEW Howells Opening vent

With a five-year warranty, the new vent system comprises electrically operated opening ventilators connected to an open/close switch or digital control panel with rain sensor and thermostat.  The vent can be managed using a manual worm gear & operating pole.

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Frame-by-frame: the best material for windows

Frame-by-frame: the best material for windows

What is the best choice of material for windows: uPVC or aluminium? This is a question we get asked regularly by window shoppers (excuse the pun).

My answer? I’d say aluminium (but I do work for an aluminium manufacturer). So the answer is…..there is no right answer. It all depends on what is important to you.


Aluminium windows

Aluminium windows

For me budget is the biggest concern with a renovation project. I still want it to look great, but if I can’t afford the more expensive material (and aluminium generally costs more) then it’s a no-brainer.


Aluminium windows


The major differences are price and thickness of frame but the texture of the frame finish, environmental impact / recyclability and durability are other factors. Aluminium wins in all of these, but, as I’ve mentioned, your bank balance will take a bigger hit.

My advice? Go to a homebuilder’s exhibition or a window supplier that sells both and see what you like. There is something for everyone.


Price is the main difference between pvc and aluminium windows



Fit Show 2017 Howells Glazing stand CAB04

Upcoming exhibitions include Future Build at the Excel – London, Ideal Home Show – London and Glasgow, Homebuilding & Renovating Show – NEC Birmingham, Surrey, Edinburgh & Somerset, Grand Designs – Birmingham & London to list a few.

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Keeping you in the loop (the closed-loop)

Keeping you in the loop (the closed-loop)

Sustainability in the products we use is very important. Our customers expect us to consider the environmental impact of our raw materials especially how waste is managed and recycled.

Metals are found in the earths crust in rocks and ore’s, Bauxite Ore is the primary source of the worlds aluminium, a reddish colour found in the topsoil in tropical and subtropical regions.

Bauxite Ore taken from top soil in tropical regions

The current reserves are estimated to last for at least 400 years without factoring in recycled aluminium. But due to the fact that aluminium is endlessly recyclable these reserves become in effect, inexhaustible.

Mining process for raw aluminium

Aluminium has many benefits in the construction industry, it’s a lightweight metal that is easy to modify and is naturally corrosion resistant.

It can be recycled again and again without losing quality, in fact 75% of all aluminium produced since 1880’s is still in use.

A recent visit to Alutrade to see first hand the recycling process

Have you ever wondered what happens at an aluminium recycling plant?  Being professional curious on your behalf, I recently made a site visit to our supply chain to look at their waste management and it’s a very high tech affair.  The process involves first identifying the exact alloy that is being recycled using sophisticated X-ray equipment and then employing state-of-the-art equipment which effectively strips all thermal breaks and other materials from the profile.  What is left is the prime material, the alloy in its original state which can go back into the same product it came from without any loss of characteristics and vitally at a 100% recyclability rate.  This is known as ‘closed-loop’ because the loop has been closed, the aluminium product which came to the end of its life has been recycled in a new product.

Recycled aluminium

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Howells Patent Glazing was appointed manufacturer and supplier of a bespoke glazing system for one of the greatest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Britain, the Towers, known to millions as the centrepiece of Alton Towers Resort.  Adapting its popular HGR 1 rafter bar, the Black Country business supplied roof lanterns for the restoration of the house conservatory, a significant feature of the south side of the house.

Roof installed by Howells Glazing 2012 using an adapted version of their bar range

Dated around 1815 – 1817, the conservatory was designed by architect, Thomas Hopper, in the Gothic style, with a glazed fan vaulted ceiling believed to be inspired by the chapel at Westminster Abbey.


Built of stone, with iron framed windows and a glazed timber roof, it comprised three elements; two long glasshouses linked by an octagon with Gothic windows.  A fourth element was added later, in 1824, to connect the conservatory with the new Octagon Gallery.


Conservatory Conservation

As part of its commitment to preserving the site’s historical features, the Resort commissioned the restoration of the house conservatory in late 2010, including the re-instatement of the whole roof, using a timber structure with aluminium glazing bars.  As the buildings were listed, the conservation officer was looking for sections which reflected the original form of the roof lanterns, as far as was practicable.  It was proposed that the lanterns were constructed in powder coated aluminium with single glazing.


After a stringent tender process and submission of section details and examples of similar lanterns to the planning officer, Howells Patent Glazing was appointed manufacturer and supplier of the roof lanterns.  Working alongside Staffordshire-based contractor, Seddon Construction, Howells was tasked with producing and installing the roof in just four months, completing the contract prior to the new tourist season.


To meet the slim, pencil line requirements of English Heritage, the patent glazing specialist adapted its popular HGR 1 rafter bar to create a bespoke glazing system.  The 37.5mm slimline aluminium glazing bars sit on the wooden rafters so the view from below is timber, as it would have been originally.  To complement the mullions, crestings were designed specifically for the conservatory featuring fleur de leys.   These were profile cut from 6mm aluminium.  The aluminium bars and crestings were powder coated in RAL 9010, an off-white satin finish.


Future-proof Reconstruction

That was seven years ago, since then the conservatory has been a magnificent spectacle for the many thousands of visitors passing through the Staffordshire tourist attraction.  David Rhodes, head of buildings and estate at Alton Towers, comments, “With regard to the roof, we have had no issues over the past seven years and it is performing as expected.”