Ged Ryan of HOPPE (UK), discusses his ten years as CEO of the Wolverhampton-based specialist manufacturer and supplier of door and window hardware.
TI: Congratulations on your 10 years as CEO of HOPPE (UK)! What was your route into construction and to your current position?
Ged Ryan (GR): After graduating in business, I was keen to get my sleeves rolled up and learn the difference between theory and practice, and the construction industry provided the perfect opportunity.
I started in a sales and marketing role in intruder and fire alarms and then moved into the lighting industry as a Regional Manager.
I went on to become Regional Director, followed by Sales and Marketing Director before moving into Managing Director roles.
When I was approached to join HOPPE and move to the hardware and fenestration sector, I was struck by the similarities in the route to market and the technical solution to construction requirements and needs.
TI: What have been the big changes within the industry over the last 10 years and how has HOPPE (UK) adapted to meet these developments?
GR: I think the key changes can be seen in the consolidation of both supplier and customer bases. Big groups are taking a larger share of the market.
HOPPE has prospered because of its independence. I’ve also noticed a shorter supply chain with people looking to get the optimum price benefit ratio.
Post-Grenfell has seen an enhanced and welcomed focus on traceability, certification and performance of products too.
TI: Has the level of support you offer as a manufacturer and supplier had to increase?
GR: To help our customers, we’ve acted as a buffer to hold more stock and protect them from global supply issues, especially around Brexit and the pandemic.
We have a highly trained, knowledgeable team which makes a huge difference. They can work closely with customers to offer products that make it easier for them to achieve the performance and certification that they need.
TI: Some of the issues around supply and lead times on products, as well as volatility in pricing within the supply chain still remain – so how have you supported your customers through the end of 2022 and into 2023?
GR: HOPPE has been exposed to volatility. We have seen a spike in orders and a high order book level. People placed large orders after Brexit and the pandemic, but all HOPPE products are manufactured here in our own plants in Europe, so we have much more control.
We’ve invested in our processes and plants to reduce bottlenecks and fought to increase output and capacity. We’ve explored different options and are now seeing the benefits of ongoing investment in equipment to shorten lead times.
TI: The homeowner is more knowledgeable about the products and materials installed on their properties – has this put pressure on the supply chain, or does the greater interest and understanding of what they want make things easier?
GR: I think this knowledge makes life easier for manufacturers. We know everything about our products – we know what the features are and why they deliver real benefits to both installers and end users.
TI: With this in mind, how important is it for installers of your products to up-sell and diversify their offering? Is this a trend you recognise in your customers?
GR: Customers are matching all hardware within a room. We see this trend getting stronger. They are going for a standard and looking to make their homes unique and bespoke and as people upgrade to a smarter, connected building there’s an opportunity to upgrade and offer other products.
TI: You supply the eHandle HandsFree product which looks to meet homeowners’ needs. Do you feel there is still room for further innovation in terms of window and door hardware? If so, what sort of issues will it address?
GR: There are interesting developments underway, and I foresee collaborations bringing together building management apps to provide interoperability and a good user-experience. Watch this space, there’s huge scope for development in this area.
TI: Are there any particular trends with regards to design you’re recognising within the market, and where do you see growth moving forward?
GR: I see a trend towards smaller homes of single occupancy, and I think the trend in aesthetics will be towards smaller frames. If you’ve spent lots of money on a view and your garden, you want a slimmer profile and minimalist furniture – such as flush mount, rosette-less handles – so you can optimise the view.
I also think we’ll continue to see the trend for copper, matt black and rose gold finishes to complement the ever expanding palette of available windows and doors.
TI: Sustainability is a topic of ever-growing importance to fabricators and increasingly for installers and end-users. What does sustainability mean to HOPPE (UK) and how do you see it impacting the supply chain in the coming years?
GR: At HOPPE, we have become experts in mass manufacturing products sustainably over the last 70 years.
We understand how to select and source the right materials, from what we use in our products through to our packaging, and focus on minimising waste at every stage of manufacturing.
We’ve been working on a detailed project to understand what our energy requirements are and invested in the infrastructure to ensure that we can seamlessly switch our energy sources to maintain production levels and use the minimum amount of energy needed for manufacturing.
TI: Despite the challenges of the past couple of years, are there reasons to be optimistic moving forward?
GR: Yes, there’s lots to be optimistic about. Buildings will always need to be safe, secure and accessible. We make good quality products, at the right price point. Many customers are looking for products that help them to improve energy efficiency, both for economic reasons and ecological ones, and we need to be sure that we have the right products for this.
TI: What do you see as the main ambitions for the company over the next couple of years?
GR: We want to operate in a fair, correct way and be a responsible part of the corporate world.
We want everyone to take value from our relationship with them – employees, customers and suppliers.
And we want to help people to meet their needs, whether aesthetic, performance related or environmentally focused. There are great grounds for optimism.
TI: And lastly, what have been your highlights of the last 10 years as CEO?
GR: The strong team we have and the optimisation of our product range by removing older products and consistently introducing new relevant products.
Also the relationships. We’re a key supplier to our customers, and we’ve built easy to deal with relationships at every level.
I made an immediate connection with the family (name) that owns the business. From 2008, HOPPE had been through challenging times but I could see that it was a good company and brand and that there were ways to reinvigorate it and gain market share. The owners laid out their vision and showed how they would help us get there and I felt that it was something I could really get my teeth into.
HOPPE is a member of a worldwide group operating in different markets so there were shared processes and resources to take advantage of. As a privately funded business they were prepared and able to make decisions, invest and give support where needed.
The people make HOPPE what is it. Many people have been here longer than me, but it’s not just the staff – the suppliers from around the world, our customers, everyone works closely together.
We understand their key drivers and help them grow. When you look at the turbulence over the last 10 years, it’s the people who’ve made the difference.