Innovation from experience
September 8, 2019
VEKA’s 50, flourishing and fired up for the future
The global VEKA Group is celebrating 50 years in business and continuing to build on decades of success. Dave Jones, MD of VEKA UK believes it is precisely the PVCu giant’s experience and heritage that keeps it innovating so successfully, creating industry-leading products time after time.
We were thrilled to celebrate VEKA Group’s 50th this summer, both at the FIT Show and in Germany where the company was founded.
The ‘big birthday’ was tinged with a hint of sadness that our founder Heinrich Laumann wasn’t here to see VEKA reach this milestone year, having passed away at 89 in September 2018.
When it comes to ‘milestone years’ though, Heinrich saw his fair share; he founded VEKA in 1969, the year that Neil Armstrong took man’s first steps on the moon and John Lennon left The Beatles. Back then the original Sendenhorst plant had just eight staff and PVCu was yet to become a major part of the construction and home improvement industry.
Over the years Heinrich saw VEKA establish the industry’s first closed loop PVCu window recycling facility in Germany, before the organisation went on to open VEKA Recycling in the UK. Heinrich saw VEKA UK create the first PVCu window to be rated ‘A’ for energy efficiency, and the founding of Independent Network, which champions independent installers and safeguards UK homeowners.
Heinrich Laumann (and his family) saw the VEKA Group grow to become the largest manufacturer of extruded PVCu products in the world.
50 years after its launch, the Group is still run by the same family and has a turnover of 1.2billion Euros. It provides secure employment for 5500 people across 40 worldwide subsidiaries.
VEKA came to Lancashire in 1986 and since then, our Burnley plant has grown from 4 extrusion lines to 34, 450,000 sq. ft. (spanning two postcodes) and 380 staff, with most living in the surrounding area. VEKA UK has become a major part of the local community – and we’re very proud of our Lancashire base.
VEKA’s heritage, and 50 years leading the industry, mean we are well placed to design and create innovative products with real, tangible value for customers, which are unlike anything else on the market.
A good example of VEKA UK staying ahead of the curve is the new SPECTRAL finish we launched at the FIT Show. Customers were putting in their showroom orders before they’d even left the VEKA stand, and it’s had incredible feedback.
This unique ultramatt material is exclusive to VEKA UK. We understand the need for original products that not only look great, but offer exceptional performance, and we identified a gap in the market for a durable matt product that we could guarantee would look great for years to come. SPECTRAL is scratch resistant, resistant to UV light and fingerprints, and can stand up to extreme weather conditions and harsh chemicals. When it comes to aesthetics and energy efficiency, it offers a fantastic alternative to aluminium.
The new Imagine Vertical Slider is another example of how VEKA UK – rather than resting on its laurels – continues to find new ways to support customers.
Market research shows that sales of Vertical Sliders to the home improvement market have increased by 32% to take 10% market share of frames. The Imagine Vertical Slider puts VEKA and Halo fabricators in a strong position to take advantage of this high value, high growth market.
It offers fabrication and installation benefits within its design; because the outer balance chamber is co-extruded in black, there’s no need to mask and paint during fabrication which saves time, reduces defects and creates a professional finish. This feature makes life easier (and more stylish) when customers request exterior/interior combinations such as Anthracite Smooth and White Woodgrain. It also has two choices of cill, an ‘invisible’ approach to coupling windows, sculptured finish on sash and outerframe, and the option of mechanical joints.
The fact that VEKA Group was founded half a century ago doesn’t stop us from revelling in the new. We’re proud to embrace new technologies and although our manufacturing sector might be considered ‘traditional’ we utilise a huge amount of cutting edge equipment and digital technology. We recently created the country’s first 3D printed window and we use our top-of-the-range 3D printer in partnership with fabricators to test the viability of potential new products, for a fraction of the cost associated with traditional prototyping.
We keep a close eye on market changes and the company is quick to adapt to rising trends in order for our customers to benefit. Laminated profile, for example, now makes up 40% of VEKA sales and we predict the demand for colour will keep growing.
As such, a large proportion of the £5M invested in the Burnley plant last year was focussed on the lamination department, including two new machines and the purchase of an adjacent building which allowed the 380,000 sq. ft. site site to expand by a further 40,000 sq. ft. Lamination capacity has the potential to increase by a further 50%; impressive considering we produced 10.2 million metres of laminated profile in 2018!
It’s clear that after 50 years, we’re still leading the industry, still investing in UK manufacturing, still innovating with products that can’t be matched and still maintaining the VEKA values that continue to serve us so well.
VEKA, Halo and Imagine customers know that being part of the VEKA ‘family’ means they’re in safe hands, with our unrivalled scale, strength and stability.
2019 sees us celebrating our past, enjoying the present and investing in our future.
I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years of VEKA brings.