Home Installer Corner ‘Suppliers falling short’

‘Suppliers falling short’

Reporting on the Certass Facebook Forum’s hottest topics, Danelle Vanstone, Head of Membership for Certass (pictured above), discusses product quality and accountability...

In the challenging landscape that our industry finds itself wading through, it is disheartening to observe a growing trend – suppliers falling short of the mark and leaving installers grappling with subpar products. The Certass Members Forum on Facebook has been buzzing with discussions over supplier issues, particularly the declining quality of glass, an issue that seems to be on a continual path of escalation as we welcome 2024.

The mood shared among our member-only group is clear: suppliers are treating installers worse than ever, with accountability taking a backseat. The recent surge in shattered toughened glass sealed units has become a point of conversation, prompting dialogue within our online community. Installers are experiencing an alarming number of cases, and the glass companies are hesitant to acknowledge it.

Discussion on this issue is not an isolated incident, it’s a recurring problem affecting multiple installers. Some members have reported a dozen incidents this past year alone, with shattered panes occurring one or two years post-installation. The frustration is real, and the question of responsibility looms large. Who pays for these replacements when suppliers are reluctant to step up, leaving installers caught in the crossfire between warranties and customer expectations?

In a rare glimmer of hope, a small fraction of the group has shared positive experiences with their suppliers – companies that go above and beyond to address issues and provide support. However, this minority is dwarfed by the majority grappling with unresponsive suppliers, aggravating the larger issue of the overall perception of professionalism, competence, and trustworthiness of the industry.

The impact of the supplier challenges goes beyond shattered glass; it undermines the competence of installers, a point often emphasised in our industry. How can we ensure decent installation when the very foundation – the quality of materials – is compromised, and supplier support is elusive?

List of complaints

When sitting down with larger installers, the list of complaints is becoming sizeable and comes from the fabrication process where too often the quality control is limited. Frames are being delivered to site not square, beads cut to wrong length, hinges not correctly positioned, reinforcing not fixed, door frames incorrectly sized, warped products, lock mechanisms not working, etc.

Brands have been named and frequent delinquents are often discussed in our forum, and public industry forums. Frustrations are highlighted specifically when dealing with incorrect deliveries and a lack of communication.

The problem is that opposing camps are forming on this issue, and the contracts used with installers seem to be heavily protective of the supplier. It seems unfair to me that a supplied product at a poor-quality level is then dependent on the installer both in skill and time to rectify for its use. Too often a reported issue is fixed by a part distribution for the installer to fit, impacting time and money with no recompense. This would be reasonable if an isolated incident, but reports show this is all too frequent.

As we move into 2024, our industry must address these challenges head-on. Installers deserve reliable suppliers and quality materials, and the Certass Forum will continue to be a platform for dialogue and support. Let’s rally together for a foundation of accountability, transparency, and a commitment to excellence in all aspects of the chain.

We need to reset the poor supply issue and replace it with an expectation of the product delivered as ordered. Regulation 7 of the Building Regulations (Material and Workmanship) determines that the installer is responsible not only for their own install work but also the products used.

Supplier responsibility

It is time for suppliers to stand up for their installer customers and take responsibility for what is supplied to site. We should be an industry that aligns with quality products being competently installed to develop our collective brand within the construction and home improvement industries.

Certass discusses such issues at length in its ongoing webinar series and the member’s forum, as well as looking at the regulatory control and expectations. From an installer’s perspective, it would be wonderful if fabricators were directly responsible for their products as seen in other sectors. If, as with boilers, the consumer
was contacting and holding the manufacturer responsible when there is an issue, instead of the installer, I think matters would improve swiftly.

There are some good suppliers in the industry, and we should highlight those who give a good service as their business, presented as an exemplar, will drive others to sit up and take note.

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