Picture above: In yellow jackets, DoorCo’s Mark Towers, Chris Mansfield and Dan Sullivan

Attending the launch of BRiTDOR and the birth of DoorCo’s new manufacturing facility at Thorne, Doncaster, Glass News’ Editor Chris Champion joined other trade publication editors to hear about, and see, where the new timber core composite door is being produced.

Comparing the cores, from left, Gripcore, Original and Britdor

BRiTDOR, as the name implies, is a very British door.  Although the timber core itself is imported, the construction of the slabs takes place entirely in the Thorne factory, finished with ThermoPlastic skins.  Importantly, there is a standard slab size of 914mm x 2095mm, larger than the norm, that allows for the increasingly popular larger door spaces.  It is also available in both 44mm and 48mm thicknesses and has over 15 colour availabilities.  Styles include all the usual suspects but also two new and exclusive designs for this range, Enzo and Glenman, and one called Eaton Solid, which is also available now.  While customers may be used to having DoorCo products painted in any colour, that facility is not available in the BRiTDOR. All the colours on offer are self-coloured but the range offered covers all the popular composite door colours, with more to come.  BRiTDOR is available as a slab for fabricators to trim to size and CNC rout for any hardware options and to be fitted to any profile. Alternatively, a prepping service is offered at DoorCo’s Macclesfield facility and, again, prepped to any profile and hardware options.

Comparing the grain. Not easy to see but Britdor Thermoplastic on left and GRP on right. Spot the difference?

It’s interesting how BRiTDOR has come about, DoorCo has thought very carefully about the naming of the product and certainly this solid core door is an important addition to the company’s portfolio completing the range alongside ORiGINAL, the polyurethane foam filled and GRP skinned composite door; GRiPCORE, the insulated and engineered timber/foam/aluminium core door with a GRP skin, and the FIRECORE fire door. What makes BRiTDOR different from the other timber cored doors on the market?  The big difference is the look of the finished door and DoorCo Managing Director, Dan Sullivan and his team have invested heavily in making the difference.  Traditionally, ABS and PVCu skins that are vac formed tend to have a slightly bulbous imitation grain and differ greatly from the grain displayed on GRP skins.  Moving to ABS or PVCu is a cheaper option than GRP, and tooling costs are very significantly different.  However, Dan and his team have invested in tooling that makes the grain definition on the Thermoplastic CoolSkin replicate that of the graining on the GRP skinned composite doors.  Indeed, putting them side by side it is pretty much impossible to tell the difference.  A significant investment but one that, I’m pretty sure, customers will fully appreciate.

The Britdor in the press

In talking with Head of Operations, Mark Towers, about the new manufacturing facility he was explaining how precise routing was key to producing a high-end door slab, and they take a lot of trouble to ensure the routing matches the pressed skins so that no air is trapped when the skin is glued and pressed together. It’s clear they are aiming at producing a quality slab that matches the high quality the trade expects, and gets, from DoorCo products.

Mark has been responsible for setting up this new manufacturing plant and it would be fair to question the move across country from Macclesfield to Doncaster.  The cost side is understandable with their being able to secure this large site for around a quarter what it would cost in ‘Premier footballer land’ being the Cheshire environs!  But there is another reason: it’s right next door to DoorCo’s glazing cassette partner’s premises such that the Doncaster choice was a no brainer!  But this is just the start of the Doncaster journey.  The plan is to manufacture BRiTDOR here but, in time and after a three year plan to demolish the existing buildings and rebuild on the site, this will become a state of the art manufacturing facility for all the DoorCo products.

Britdor in situ

So, what about DoorCo Korea?  Korea is a facility that manufactures vast quantities of doors, and very efficiently, but design and development of products, something DoorCo is very good at, very much remains in the UK domain going forward.  There is an element of future proofing here.  With turmoil worldwide, the ability to manufacture even the ORiGINAL GRP foam filled door in the UK makes sense.  Equally, if GRiPCORE, BRiTDOR or any other new door created in the future becomes mainstream, as ORiGINAL has, quantity manufacturing can be backed up in Korea.  Part of the reason for inviting the trade press to view Doncaster at this early stage is to involve us with the whole journey of this manufacturing facility and it will be very interesting to watch the progress of this substantial investment by DoorCo.  Even now, manufacturing is taking place and the site’s development will run side by side the production of the BRiTDOR.

Gluing and fitting skins to the routed door blank

And what of Macclesfield, you may well ask?  After all there are some 200 people employed at DoorCo HQ?  The plan is straight forward, and Macclesfield will be the warehousing, prepping and glazing hub.  Just one point here: the glazing service offered by DoorCo includes the 44mm BRiTDOR but not the 48mm slab, simply because the 48mm slab will require a thicker glass unit which DoorCo do not currently stock and, due to their extensive existing range, they did not want to add further stock to the range at this stage

Dan Sullivan told us how the Doncaster team are well settled and manufacturing is in progress, indeed order taking is open now.  The team are excited that they are officially open for business and Dan is happy that Mark, together with Senior Manufacturing Manager, Chris Mansfield and Doncaster’s Manufacturing Manager, David Wells-Burr, have everything in hand ready for the door orders through DoorCo’s ordering portal.

New door styles for Britdor

The team were keen to emphasise that BRiTDOR is a truly British product and the company’s Marketing Manager, Ellie Pool, talked about the naming of the product and the design options they looked at. “BRiTDOR captures exactly what this is – a British made door.  No frills, no ifs, buts or maybes.  BRiTDOR is a simple, solid choice backed by Brilliantly British Manufacturing.”

Dan Sullivan invited us all to visit regularly to watch the progress of this exciting development at Thorne, Doncaster, and I, for one, will take advantage of the offer as watching a development of this type, from scratch, is definitely compelling.

Britdors on the CNC

Apart from anything else, it’s barely a half hour journey for me to make a visit!

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