There are few people in the glass and glazing sector that have not heard of Nick Dutton. Formerly involved with Synseal and Door-Stop, he explains to Editor Michael Gannon about his career and life at locksmith supplier, Brisant
Editor: Before we look at your latest venture, give us an idea of your experience in the fenestration sector?
Dutton: Long! It started selling trade frames in 1991. In 1993 I was running our conservatory department (buying in from Ultraframe). When this business was sold in 1995 I moved to the extrusions’ operation. This, in turn, resulted in selling profile, patio kits, hardware, gaskets, and then we designed our own conservatory systems which was great fun. In 2008 I left to set up Door-Stop International, which of course Masonite purchased from us in February this year.
Editor: You mention Synseal and there’s no doubt that it was an interesting time back in the early to mid-1990s when it got quite a reputation for ruffling feathers. Do you think it was deserved, or that the competition had got too much of an old pals’ act?
Dutton: I’m not sure whether there was an old pals’ act or not, but there were many of our competitors who were very preoccupied looking inwards, rather than outwards. I think our businesses have succeeded by concentrating on identifying what the market wants, then delivering it.
Editor: What would you say were your principal achievements there?
Dutton: If you were to ignore the headline fiscal performances, I would say that our principal achievements were in repeatedly spotting what people wanted to buy and then making it available to them. The launch of Shield started to change hearts and minds. But then when we launched our Global conservatory system, at a time when no one had dared do this, we found a breathtaking demand.
Editor: Some people were surprised when you left for Door-Stop International because they saw you as a constant factor at Synseal. Was it that you wanted to be your own man, a new challenge in a growing market, or a bit of both?
Dutton: To be honest, it’s much simpler than that. It was time to sell Synseal, but we were too young to retire. We did what we had done times before – we found a demand for a product that was not being satisfied. Only instead of incorporating it within Synseal, it was setup as a standalone facility. So, there was life after Synseal!
Editor: Again, what would you say were your most important contributions to Door-Stop’s progress in the market?
Dutton: The development of the web systems made it possible for Door-Stop to make what seemed impossible really easy. The services and facilities that go on behind the scenes on the Door-Stop website are remarkable, and better still, they require hardly any intervention due to the automation. This made the development of bedrock principles like a three-day turnaround and ‘If it’s late, it’s free’ easy instead of impossible.
Editor: Apart from the obvious answer that you were bought out, why did you decide to leave Door-Stop and how long did it take for you to think of another sector?
Dutton: Door-Stop is a fantastic business and it was great fun getting it to where it got to. The business was in a great market position, in a great market, in an economy that was starting to turn. Masonite saw the opportunity that the next owner could enjoy – all in all making it the ideal time to both buy the business and to sell it.
Editor: Why Brisant?
Dutton: It’s a young, dynamic business with some genuinely great selling points. Steve Stewart (ex Managing Director of Avocet ABS), and Adrian Vicker (Ex Managing Director of Siegenia) have done a fantastic job in developing many great products and have an incredibly happy customer base. My involvement is to help more people see how Brisant can help develop their business.
Editor: What does this sector offer in the way of challenges?
Dutton There are jobs that we need to do, and collectively, we know how to do them. Brisant has got some exciting times looming. In many businesses, growth can result in a reduction in customer service but the logistics of this product and the infrastructure already in place, will avoid this.
Editor: What are you now offering to the next stage of development for Brisant?
Dutton: I’m helping with the launch of our flagship product, Ultion. We’re expecting it have both TS007 3* and the Sold Secure Diamond accreditation from the Master Locksmith Association.
Editor: Does the fenestration sector still have the same appeal and characters, or do you ever get nostalgic for the ‘good old days’?
Dutton: I have heard many conversations about the ‘characters’ not being in the industry anymore. Yes, granted, there were some really colourful people involved that aren’t anymore. I suspect those that consider how good the ‘good old days’ were, haven’t had the benefit of meeting the new characters. I’m doing the MADI Ball Rally* next year and with the exception of Paul Godwin [former PR of Synseal], there are some really great characters involved with that!
MADI BALL RALLY
*A sports rally from the heart of the UK to the Café de Paris Monte Carlo and back again.
Caption – Nick Dutton, at locksmith supplier, Brisant – “My involvement is to help more people see how Brisant can help develop their business.”