Cornwall Glass completed its acquisition of LW Architectural Glass in March. We find out how three months of intense investment has given it one of the UK’s most technically advanced multi-laminate facilities.
“I remember the first trip up in March. We were aware that it [LW Architectural] was for sale on in late February. On the 8th March and we’d all jumped in the car and drove up almost immediately, stopping on the way up in Starbucks to sing happy birthday to one of our Directors, Mark Norcliffe”, says Mark Herbert, Director, Cornwall Glass.
“The minute we walked onto the site we were just ‘wow’ –, the infrastructure and capability that was there was incredible. We all saw the potential in what was there in machinery and infrastructure and in the product and service offer it gave to us as a business.”
Cornwall Glass announced its acquisition of LW Architectural Glass just three weeks later at the end of March. The high-profile deal, seeing the £4m turnover former glass division of commercial and architectural specialist, Lee Warren Fabrication and Design, become the latest acquisitions by what is increasingly a powerhouse in the glass processing sector.
Now operating as Cornwall Architectural Glass – London, the 50,000sq ft facility was opened as a purpose-built glass division by Lee Warren Fabrication and Design in 2014, and its acquisition came with a list of mouth-watering assets.
Straight-line edgers, CNC machines, a paint shop, heat soak ovens and a toughening plant – the fourth within the Cornwall Glass Group – form a catalogue of high-end equipment.
It’s Cornwall Architectural Glass – London’s new laminate facility, which sets its offer apart. Working alongside Lee Warren Fabrication and Design, LW Architectural Glass supplied glass to some of the UK’s most prestigious commercial projects including Wembley Stadium and Heathrow Airport, alongside light commercial projects across London.
This is in addition to serving high-end architectural residential markets, processing over-sized insulated glass units, floors, canopies and balustrading. Combined, this drove major investment in its laminate facility, something which Mark now argues, allows Cornwall Glass to bring new a new product and service offer to market.
This includes the UK’s largest heat soak oven, capable of Heatsoak testing sheets 3200mm wide by 11000mm long and the autoclave, which is capable of handling units of 2500mm X 6950mm.
This in addition to an Efco Furnace Convection Oven, a second HOAF Heat soak oven, Adellio Latuado straightline edgers, painting facility, a laminate resin pour system and sterile operating-theatre type, climatic lamination facility and Skill Drill CNC machining centre – one of only two in the country – and an impressive lifting infrastructure.
“It had everything we had but also everything we didn’t”, says Mark. “There was a furnace and heat soak ovens but on such a huge scale.
“We clearly supply laminate but like most glass processors, we haven’t had our own lamination facility. Our acquisition of LW has given us a laminate resin pour system and climatic lamination facility, our own autoclave, a Skill drill – one of only two in the country – and the flexibility that goes with that.”
Since getting the keys to the business on the 31st March, Cornwall Glass has made further and major investment in its London operation. This has included a major reorganisation of the site and service and renewal of machinery, as well training programmes for new colleagues.
“LW had a very good reputation for quality and what they were doing here in many respects was incredible but there are obviously learning points to draw from their experience and we need to do some things differently.
“It’s key that we not only bring and fully integrate the London site with the rest of our business but make sure that we do it sustainably and can deliver the service levels that our customers want and that we would expect to be able to give to them”, says Mark.
“We have spent the last few weeks renewing and servicing machinery, putting in preventative maintenance programmes, bringing in external training suppliers and doing all those things which we know will allow us to deliver the service levels that we would expect and want to deliver to our customers.”
With its core team already recruited, including a mix of former LW employees and new joiners, plus integration of transport and IT infrastructures now completed, Cornwall Architectural Glass – London announced that it had returned to operational capacity at the end of June.
“The support that we have had from suppliers has been really important in helping us to get to where we are so relatively quickly. The reputation and relationships we have as a business had been absolutely instrumental in supporting that process”, says Mark.
“This isn’t a ring-fenced business, it is a fully integrated part of Cornwall Glass and we’re here to invest and make it a success. You only need to look at the products that we have the capability to deliver to LW’s former customers, new customers and our existing customer base, to see the potential that exists within the business.”
He argues that this includes a product portfolio at the cutting-edge of structural glass design. Offering PVB, EVA, Cast Resin and Sentury Guard lamination in-house the company’s offer includes over-sized units, walk-on-floors, walk-on roof-lights, staircases and balustrading, plus high adhesive painted finishes.
“We have capacity to manufacture some incredible products”, continues Mark. “The knowledge base is fantastic. There’s a walk-on-floor, there waiting to go out which features not only a huge multi-laminate piece of glass with anti-slip surface coating but also painted edges and suspended insulated glazed unit underneath.”
“It’s about the wild and the wonderful, the biggest units, the most unusual shapes and the most demanding applications.
“What will make the business a success is the combination of expertise, the infrastructure that we have and the quality and service that allows us to deliver to our customers.”
For more information on our laminating capabilities please call 02085 737332 or email us London@cornwallglass.co.uk