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INSULATION


SUPERGLASS INVESTMENT REAPS REWARDS


Insulation manufacturer Superglass has won a Scottish Engineering award, recognising its excellence in innovation and investment. CEO Ken Munro talked to Fiona Russell Horne about the company’s journey.


I


nvestment is one thing. Innovation in manufacturing is another thing. Implementing a huge investment plan whilst maintaining the running of a factory is something else. That’s what insulation manufacturer Superglass managed to do and is partly why it was recognised with the Company of the year award from Scottish Engineering.


The award recognised the company’s endeavours in areas such as innovation and investment. Scottish Engineering Chief Executive Paul Sheerin visited the manufacturer’s Stirling plant to present Ken Munro, CEO of Superglass and its parent company, TN International for Western Europe & North America with the trophy in person.


Scottish Engineering conducted an in-depth analysis of all shortlisted businesses, taking in to account the companies’ growth, turnover, profitability, customer service and continuous improvement. The judges also looked for evidence of capital investment, innovation and commitment to safety and training. “We essentially engineered a new plant on top of the existing plant which was a major achievement in itself,” says Munro. “We were replacing the furnace and the curing ovens at one end of the factory, whilst still working at the other end of the factory on the lines and the packaging. We had cranes hovering over the factory, essentially lowering huge bits of kit into the plant in one place while we were still producing glasswool in another area.”


The changes included a number of things that the company had been hoping to bring in for some years, but it was only with the investment from new owner TechnoNICHOL that the opportunity was really able to be grasped.


“We essentially replaced the entire infrastructure of the plant with very few exceptions and introduced automated slab packing robots, all of the things that we always wanted to do five or six years ago but the support we got from TechnoNICHOL through the acquisition opened up a completely different horizon for the business,” he says.


Rising demand


The expansion was necessary in order for the company to be able to meet demand for its products, demand that had been increasing over the past few years. “We were developing new applications of the products, we had grown a very significant export market in France for our blown wool product as well as developing that product in the UK for new- build blown cavities. All these markets meant that we essentially had to double the capacity of the factory.”


Superglass can now build strong partnerships again with a broader base of customers, something that Munro says is fundamentally important. “It has been extremely encouraging to see the development and the uptake of merchant customers coming back to Superglass. The company always had a strong relationship with its merchant base and even when we had reduced capacity. The responsiveness, flexibility and entrepreneurial nature of Superglass has always been in its DNA, even in the darkest days, and is one of the reasons the company has survived. We


26 www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net November 2020


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