I can’t believe the year is almost over, in fact as I’m writing this blog it is less than 10 days till Christmas Day and we’ve already had snow! 2022 hasn’t been without its challenges as we continue to deal with material shortages due to the pandemic home improvement boom and now spiralling energy costs, however, it has been another successful year with many highlights, too many to share on this blog so I’ve picked my top 5.
In March this year we launched our Dominica external roller blind, the first external blind in our range designed to be integrated within the façade. As expected, it has proved a huge hit with both self builders and specifiers, who want to keep clean, seamless lines on the building façade.
The Dominica uses the same ziplockTM technology and materials as our long standing Antiguan blind but with an innovative new headbox where the base to the cassette, which ultimately forms the underside of the fascia, is removeable so when the blind is installed it is possible to gain access to the mechanism and fabric for any maintenance or remedial purposes without having to remove the blind.
For more information on this system click here >
We also brought out a new 2kw infra-red heater – Bahamas. The heater features a re-designed angular case that is in keeping with the square edge design of our pergolas that they are most commonly installed with and incorporates a unique diamond cut reflector that ensures an even heat coverage over the 150 degree heat span the heater provides, ensuring everyone remains toasty and warm. This is coupled with an ultra low element (bulb) that gives off a warming golden ambient glow that doesn’t dazzle and is pleasing on the eyes.
Furthermore we launched our own brand of epoxy resin branded CB-AWNFIXTM. Resin bonded anchors provide the safest attachment of awnings and pergolas into any masonry and uncracked concrete as the fixing becomes a part of the base material (the resin seeps into the pores of the brick/block and hardens), therefore providing a stress free, secure attachment. The resin is used on all CB installations and actively used by our trade partner network. To find out more about the advantages of resin bonded fixings click here >
Shorter Working Week
In August we introduced a four day working week for our factory team, with them working 40 hours over 4 days, Monday through Thursday and having Friday off for an extended weekend – 3 days instead of 2. The result has been hugely positive, with improved staff moral, an increase in output and ultimately a better work-life balance for our team. We have also introduced in the last few weeks a similar structure for our installation teams, with them working 4 + ¼ days, with the ¼ day on Friday morning always at base reserved for preparing their vehicles and teams for the following weeks installations.
This is on top of a whole host of new benefits we have introduced including Birthday ‘spin the wheel’, a healthcare cash plan, discounted gym membership, team building events and free tickets to our local football club – AFC Sudbury, for all home matches.
For the first time since 2016, we were back exhibiting, this time at the British Blind & Shutter (BBSA) show in October. The BBSA Show is the UK’s only trade exhibition for companies involved in both the manufacture and retail of interior and exterior shading solutions including blinds & awnings. Over the course of 3 days, we showcased our award-winning range of external shading systems and discussed our trade partner package to the 3,000+ visitors, with an eye watering 350+ companies registering interest in becoming an approved local partner.
The show undoubtedly was a huge success and now the hard work begins providing training and equipping our new partners with all the required sampling they need along with supporting them in their marketing efforts for the season ahead.
Our factory extension has finally (yes, there have been lots of delays because of material shortages) been constructed, with just some of the internal fitout remaining. The additional 10,000 sq/ft of space is purely for the storage of both aluminium and steel profiles and the cutting of them. By being able to hold much higher levels of stock will help with both price volatility and lead times, as our existing building is now solely for the production (assembly and commissioning) of all our systems with more workstations (and the stock to be able to produce more products).
Our manufacture lead times at the beginning of November were a record breaking 2 weeks for all our external shading systems in a standard hardware (metalwork) colour. When we look back to November last year, we were running on a minimum 6-8 weeks for external blinds and awnings and 16 weeks for louvered roofs. This is some accomplishment, and we are going to try to drive this down even further!
Additionally, we set up further offices and a design studio just outside Canary Wharf, aimed specifically for the specification sector to provide a base where they can view our architectural shading products, run through their project plans and understand how to seamlessly integrate our solutions within their design. This has already proved a huge success with some exciting projects in store for 2023.
Throughout the year we have been fortunate enough to pick up a number of awards, the standout of which has to be ‘Manufacturing Excellence’ at the national Scale up Awards. We are proud and take great pride in producing all our external shading systems right here in the UK, products that are produced to exacting standards, at the height of innovation and the very pinnacle of precision, the epitome of luxury. To have been shortlisted nationally to the final 6 for this category was an achievement in itself but to have taken the trophy home for the award was, for all the team, who each day work tirelessly to deliver exceptional external shading systems the stand out highlight of the year!
2023 promises to be another exciting year with more new product innovations, further additions to our team, an upgraded showsite and appearances at more exhibitions amongst some of what’s coming.
I would like to finally take this opportunity to wish all our customers, suppliers, partners, supporters and of all the CB team a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year. Our offices and factory are closed from Thursday 22nd December and re-open Tuesday 3rd January 2023.