By Justin Hunter, Managing Director, AluK
It would be hard to think of a more challenging scenario for a new Managing Director than taking on the top job at the height of a global pandemic. But that was exactly what Justin Hunter faced when he was appointed as MD at AluK at the start of May. He has finally had time to reflect on the journey so far and even look ahead to what the rest of 2020 might bring for AluK and the wider market.
Justin told Glass News: I had accepted the role long before most of us had even heard of Coronavirus and was tremendously excited to be joining AluK. It’s an ambitious, dynamic business which has always sought to set its own agenda in the aluminium sector. More than three months in, the excitement hasn’t left me; if anything, I think I probably admire the business even more now, having witnessed the performance of the whole team during this crisis.
The positivity which characterises AluK was evident throughout in the way that everyone stepped up to maintain operations and support customers as much as possible throughout the period. Even before I joined, AluK had made a promise to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fabricators and I’m proud to say that we are still very much doing that.
Having guaranteed continuity of supply from the start, we are now delivering market leading OTIF on our products, thanks to the efficiency of our operations team. Crucially, that means our customers know that they can rely on us for deliveries and don’t need to tie up their own cash in stock.
Similarly, we had the resources available to keep all of our support departments operational throughout the lockdown, so were able to stay in regular communication with our customers and offer sales, technical, operations and even health and safety advice, and that has certainly strengthened our partnerships with many of them.
Our marketing team were even able to design and deliver a new, purpose-made Marketing Academy website specifically to provide straightforward guidance and tools to help customers market themselves cost effectively online and using PR.
Looking ahead, AluK is continuing to invest in new products. We’ve got some big announcements coming up – some of which will open up new opportunities and some which will fill gaps in our range so that our fabricators don’t need to go anywhere else.
So far of course, much of the window and door market has bounced back in a way which no one could have predicted at the beginning of May. Quality and capacity remain high in aluminium and some are even reporting lower costs as a result of the efficiencies they have been forced to make. However, we need to be cautious because of the risks which still lie ahead. As well as the danger of a second wave of the virus, consumer confidence is likely to be hit as the government unwinds its package of support measures, and that’s even before we start to think about the implications of a no-deal Brexit.
However, there will be lots of opportunities and there are already plenty of potential new disruptors in this changed, new world. The government has announced a huge boost in infrastructure spending on homes, hospitals and schools, and investment in new schemes to give homeowners grants for energy efficient home improvements. There is also talk of unwanted commercial office space being repurposed into homes and obviously greater demand for local workspaces in domestic homes and in shared flats,
During such unpredictable times though, it’s never been more important for us and our customers to work closely and collaboratively. The truth is, we are always stronger when we stick together!
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