As the Norwegian window and door manufacturer approaches its 40th anniversary of trading in the UK, Alex Brown, MD for NorDan UK, looks back on the history of the company, its recent challenges, and its vision for the future.
OUR establishment in the UK has always been tied closely to the roots of NorDan as an organisation. Founded in Moi, Norway, in 1926 – NorDan sought to manufacture the quintessential window for the Scandinavian market. Almost 100 years later, the NorDan Group now supplies high-spec, windows, doors and smart accessories worldwide.
Designed for the tough Norwegian climate, NorDan products perform reliably over many years in even the harshest weather. This quality solidified the decision to expand to the UK in 1981. In the 40 years since, we have gradually grown into a market leader and a household name, being specified for many high-profile commercial developments and residential projects of all sizes.
Continuous improvement has led to several expansions, with us moving to a central hub in Livingston in 2016 and now having offices based in Aberdeen, London, Manchester, Gloucester, Exeter and soon, Inverness. Newer developments have included six-figure upgrades to several regional showrooms and a wider pool of internal specialist teams for customer service, specification, technical and training.
Of course, there are challenges facing all companies in the construction industry. Rising material costs, Brexit and more recently the widespread chaos of Covid-19. Thankfully with most of our personnel working from home during lockdown and our supply networks working tirelessly to fulfil orders, we were able to ride the wave of the pandemic and maintain business as usual.
What has become apparent following lockdown is the need for companies to adapt and work towards a singular vision reinforced by company values. Without this, businesses risk being left behind. At NorDan, we have already set the ball rolling on this approach.
Our recent growth had provided need for some restructuring. Barbara Massie, regional director for our Aberdeen branch, now also heads up our Scotland central residential sales division and timber frame strategy with support from operations director Calum Sinclair. Barbara had this to say about the recent changes: “Repeat business and long-lasting relationships in the north of Scotland have always been the bread and butter of NorDan UK, but with more brand recognition than ever and a strong residential team leading the charge, we anticipate greater success across the whole country in the years to come.”
Another recent shift has seen our director of sales, Craig Greenwood, now overseeing our central Livingston hub in addition to commercial projects in London, on which he comments: “Despite the adversity of 2020, NorDan has come back stronger than ever in the UK and secured a string of upcoming commercial projects in London and beyond. I look forward to my new role in the Livingston head office and am interested to see what a post-pandemic landscape has in store.”
New additions to the NorDan UK team include Mike Stevenson and Simon Dunn, both of whom have over 30 years’ experience in the industry.
Growth is also reflected across the entire NorDan Group, which in the last 18 months has acquired STM Vinduer in Denmark, Rubicon in Norway and NorDan Vinduer in Ireland, while also doubling some manufacturing capacity. NorDan’s factories across Europe have been at maximum capacity since lockdown, with no signs of slowing.
Driving this group-wide investment is the ambition of NorDan’s third-generation family owners, who endorse continued growth. Focusing on creating products with market-leading specifications, the aim is to continue the momentum we have built up through recent expansions.
Our finance director at NorDan UK, Gillian Irvine, provided a comment on the growth of the brand: “It’s certainly been an exciting time for NorDan. While here in the UK we have grown and solidify our own reach, across Europe the group has expanded through several high-profile acquisitions. As we rapidly approach our financial targets, we hope to use the momentum of recent successes to continue pushing these even higher.”
NorDan UK is already at work on new products developed specifically for the British market. There has also been greater focus on the environment and digitalisation from both a manufacturing and company sustainability standpoint – this initiative has been dubbed ‘ecoDigital Ready’.
With almost a century of window design and strong values, I believe that NorDan has successfully weathered recent storms and firmly established itself as a core brand of Scandinavian windows and doors in the UK.
As we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, I am happy to look back on our heritage with pride in the knowledge that the ambitious vision driving the company will continue to cement our place for decades to come.