Doing business the Wright way in Irvine

AN Irvine-based windows manufacturer is in the process of a major recruitment drive to support ambitious growth plans.

Andrew Wright Windows is looking to add around 28 new employees to its 115-strong workforce in a variety of roles from joiners and window fitters through to admin staff and production operators.

MD Charlie Berry told Project Scotland that 15 of the 28 positions have already been filled, which has been necessary following a significant upturn in both commercial and domestic projects. More houses of all tenures are required in Scotland, while homeowners are looking to better insulate their homes in the face of rising fuel prices.

“There is more business out there,” Charlie explained. “We foresaw that the marketplace was going to grow, hence why we’re recruiting people.

“We are fairly unique in Scotland in that we make our own UPVC windows, but we also have a glass company as well, which makes and manufactures double and triple-glazed units. We’ve got everything under two roofs.”

Andrew Wright Windows provides a wide range of products including tilt and turn windows, reversible windows, sliding sash windows, casement windows, and bi-folding doors. Accreditations and awards include BSI Kitemark and Secured by Design.

As well as investing in new staff, the business has also spent almost £1 million recently on new production equipment and vehicles including a Stuga ZX5 sawing and machining centre which cuts and bores all the holes required for handles, locks and hinges; and an Urban 6-head flat bed welder.

Charlie explained that plans are afoot to raise turnover from £8 million to £12 million over the next year-and-a-half, which would represent a remarkable success story, especially after the firm closed its doors for 18 and 16 weeks respectively in 2020 and 2021 to comply with Covid-19 restrictions.

Charlie Berry and wife Bernardine

The company can trace its roots back to 1937 when it was founded by Andrew Wright, who was originally a glazer. During World War Two, he secured a major contract to re-glaze significant parts of Belfast which had been heavily bombed.

The business, which operates predominantly in Scotland’s central belt and the islands, has been in the hands of the Berry family since the mid-1990s. With Charlie and three other family members involved, it is very much run as a family business, which he said brings the benefits of ‘trust, reliability and honesty’. Since acquiring the firm, Charlie has led its transformation from one which mainly focused on domestic projects to one serving a range of clients including major housebuilders and local authorities.

“We make and manufacture UPVC windows from the VEKA range, which is one of the best profiles to make windows from in the world,” he explained, “VEKA is a massive family-owned company in Germany. When I took (Andrew Wright Windows) over, it had a turnover of around £700,000. The company was mainly (carrying out) domestic work. I came from that background as well.

“When we decided to move into the commercial market, it was natural for us to continue offering the levels of customer service and attention to quality demanded by householders in our traditional domestic marketplace. This has served us well and has been a key factor in building a very healthy volume of business with leading housebuilders across the country.”

Charlie sees plenty scope for growth, with opportunities in particular around the fact some of the larger builders are taking on more social and affordable housing projects.

One of the biggest changes he’s seen over several decades in the industry is the extra focus on sustainability. When COP26 took place in Glasgow late last year, he revealed he ‘put his thinking cap on’ and worked with VEKA on developing a window boasting a U-value of less than 1.

“I’ve got that in-house and ready to go on our production facility,” Charlie said. “That’s a great opportunity, especially now. If we can save some money for householders by making their homes better insulated, I think that’s the way to go.”