The UK window and door industry is all I’ve ever known – my father was a salesman for Coldshield before starting Starglaze in 1976, when I was the tender age of five.
That said, my perceptions have definitely changed over the years. I’ve seen many businesses come and go, and I’ve watched the industry move away from being purely entrepreneurial and sales-driven. As a result, Sternfenster is a professionally run and logistical manufacturing business.
While windows are in my blood, I’ve had lots of support along the way, not only from colleagues inside Starglaze but also from suppliers, professionals, and friends.
There are plenty of mentors in the industry, plenty of people willing to go the extra mile to help. Obviously, if we remain strong as an industry by working together, rather than defaulting to price wars and competition-knocking, then we’d have a stronger industry. If we had stronger professional bodies representing us, then perhaps we’d be able to attract more talent.
While support should always be available if you need it, I think the issue is more about an individual’s desire to learn and develop. Having an open mind, a thirst for knowledge, and a desire to make tomorrow better than today is more important. If you have that mindset, then there is no reason why you won’t succeed.
Anyone with drive, determination, self-assurance, and a just-do-it attitude will succeed at most things they attempt. Clearly, there are many challenges and frustrations, both professionally and personally, but a strong set of values and beliefs means you keep going to try and achieve whatever positive outcomes and objectives you set yourself.
I’ve been fortunate to meet lots of people with great, positive attitudes who didn’t stop when things got tough. Being around people like that helps shape you as you grow and develop and gives you a strong outlook on life.
I’ve also been fortunate to grow up and be shaped in a positive environment, both at home, school and work. Working in a business with a set of strong principles, behaviours, and values – and one that believes people are the most important thing in business – means that there is no place for discrimination. It’s about having the right people in the right jobs doing the right things at the right times.
To attract a wider selection of people to our industry, we need to be more inclusive and sharing and pool our ideas. We need to understand that we all make white plastic squares, suffer the same issues and challenges so that we can come together as an industry to shout about our successes and the opportunities available rather than trying to compete on price and by undermining the competition.
We also need stronger trade bodies that ensure standards are maintained, and we have an industry voice that is united and heard.
All external factors help to shape us and make us stronger. However, whether it’s Covid, the greater focus on mental and physical wellbeing, the desire to reduce emissions, deal with supply issues, or simply manage the day-to-day business, we should all work as a team to succeed. So, I don’t think greater inclusion is a result of external factors, I think it’s a result of leadership.
We have an inclusive business; the only important factors that determine employment, growth and development are working in line with our Starglaze Family Principles, together with drive and determination.
Over the last two years, I’ve learned that the people we employ are very strong, and they work very well as a team. This means that as a business we are very robust, and we can tackle pretty much anything.
But it’s a two-way street, and we’ve made sure that they are properly recognised for their efforts and the outstanding contribution they make to the company.
This is why we signed up to Investors In People, which is designed to help companies like Sternfenster set out processes for the continuous improvement and recognition of staff. We found that most of our employees feel that we have clear values. In fact, we scored higher than the industry standard for manufacturers across a range of criteria, and we were awarded a Silver Status as a result.
While the survey was really positive, it showed that we could also be doing a lot more. That includes making sure that we continue to empower and involve everyone in what we do, recognise their efforts consistently and encourage growth within the business. Also, we must ensure we have systems in place to address the mental health and wellbeing of our staff.
We have a clearly defined set of family principles. They are designed to develop and motivate our team so that we are all invested in the same values. Ultimately, the aim of improving our Investors In People Silver status and making it our vision to achieve Gold is to recognise and reward the people who work at Sternfenster.
In doing so, we will not only have a healthier, happier and more productive workforce, but we will further enhance the level of service we offer to our customers as a result.
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