Embracing Automation

In this article for Window News, John Crittenden, Managing Director of Carl F Groupco explains that attitudes in the hardware sector are changing regarding automation.

Ten years ago some capability was offered, but Smart Tech hadn’t been embraced by the UK market and the appetite for electronic systems was embryonic.

Today that is changing, solutions have been created, capabilities are being recognised and people are putting real value on the technology.

Looking at why we are on the cusp of a boom in Smart Tech, John points to three things:

i)    The acceptance of, and confidence in, automation in other areas of our lives
ii)   The move towards Smart Homes supported by initiatives taken by major utility companies and technology providers
iii)   The impact of national media coverage and the lifestyle vision presented on programmes such as Grand Designs

With regard to the first point, we are immersed in automation and it has widely become the accepted way of life. Cars have been unlocked using key fobs for many years and are even being superseded with keyless entry systems. We don’t question this technology: it has become second nature, it simplifies the process and most of us would be reluctant to return to the traditional key. This significantly helps the evolution to electronic based technologies in the door hardware sector.

Smart Homes no longer sound like a futuristic prediction. Many people have some element of Smart Tech in their property and, spearheaded by major utility providers, we are moving towards full control and connectivity of home appliances.

New electronic era

The new era of electronic living is widely presented on television and in newspaper supplements – it is regularly featured in aspirational TV programmes including Grand Designs. It is also a topic that is taking centre stage at both business and consumer home exhibitions.

Additionally, other countries have been trail blazers setting out the stall for the scope and potential of the new technology. Germany, the home of locking specialists FUHR, has been particularly pioneering in developing and adopting the intelligent home and integrating this within their door fittings.

Against this backdrop, and supported by our long-standing partnership with FUHR, in 2016 Carl F Groupco introduced SmartSecure, our electronic locking and access control brand. With our track record working with FUHR understanding the practicalities and the needs of the market, we made the decision to fully embrace this opportunity.

The established FUHR multitronic 881 locking system is at the heart of SmartSecure – this gives all important validity to the solutions and assurance that it is tried and tested technology.


The traditional key is replaced with a range of access control options

‘SmartConnect easy’ is an optional access control package using a smartphone. Keyless operation and monitoring is provided via an intelligent WLAN-based system. Complete assurance is given with sensor monitoring of door leaf and bolt positions that enable verification of the locking status wherever and whenever required.

A second SmartSecure option is ‘SmartTouch’. This pioneering keyless access system enables easy entry by simply touching a sensor. Access to the property is gained if an active, moving transponder is within range and the sensor is touched. This means keys can be in a pocket when hands are full and the door will open – so, no more struggling up to your house with shopping, putting bags down, finding your key, unlocking the door and picking up your bags again. For a stylish, concealed solution, the sensor can also be fitted within a pull handle.

Radio-based access control systems are also available including a radio keypad, transponder and fingerprint scanner for keyless biometric access control.

The real value in Smart Tech, such as SmartSecure, comes from the benefits it affords to users, such as easy access when carrying shopping, as described above. The advantages can be value add aesthetics to create a ‘Grand Design’ style home or  practical and pragmatic reasons such as in the care sector e.g. controlled access to authorised nurse or welfare visitors.

Total support and tailored solutions

Total support is essential. Smart Tech can’t be gloss, hype and vapour ware – it has to be a tailored solution, it has to offer real benefits and it has to be supported. The technology is just the tip of the iceberg. Advice and guidance is needed to assist customers as they embrace the new Smart era – our service team was in place from the outset and we appointed a dedicated Business Development Manager. Additionally, all staff that have customer contact are trained in SmartSecure’s solutions.

These are exciting times for the industry where we are witnessing real change and a real opportunity. At Carl F Groupco we firmly believe that you can’t play around on the side-lines offering ad hoc products: total solutions are needed that are comprehensively supported and this is our focus for SmartSecure.


For more details on the FUHR multitronic 881 lock from SmartSecure, please click here.

For more information about our different access control options, please click here.

Carl F Groupco Limited: Tel: 01733 393330
For more information, contact sales@carlfgroupco.co.uk
Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handles @Carl_F_Groupco and @_SmartSecure.


Carl F Groupco’s emergency hardware supports safety standards

Established hardware supplier Carl F Groupco is promoting its extensive range of panic and emergency exit gearing, which meets stringent safety standards for public and commercial installations. A comprehensive technical advisory service, including guidance on standards, is also offered by the company.

A comprehensive range of panic and emergency exit hardware is available from Carl F Groupco. Image shows Strand Antipanic gearing (left) and a FUHR emergency exit lock.

A comprehensive range of panic and emergency exit hardware is available from Carl F Groupco.
Image shows Strand Antipanic gearing (left) and a FUHR emergency exit lock.

Commenting on the importance of offering support to the hardware sector, John Mitchell, Carl F Groupco’s Technical Manager explains:

“It can be time consuming for fabricators to translate standards into hardware selection – recognising this, we ensure that we are well versed in the regulations that impact this process and ensure we are fully equipped to advise customers on the best route to achieve panic or emergency exit doors.

“First, it is important to establish exactly where the door set will be fitted and who will be using it – this will determine what hardware is required to meet regulations. Non-public buildings, for example, where potential users have received full door operation training, require hardware to meet the EN 179 standard for emergency exits. However, if the door is to be fitted to public buildings or other premises where occupants may not be familiar with exit routes and hardware devices, the door will need to meet EN 1125 for panic exit. Carl F Groupco offers hardware solutions to meet the requirements of both of these standards.”

As a long-standing partner of the German lock manufacturer FUHR, products offered by Carl F Groupco include the FUHR 870 and 871 Type 8 emergency exit locks for aluminium, PVCu or timber doors. Proven over 18 years of service, the multipoint locks are capable of achieving EN 1125 panic exit and EN 179 emergency exit requirements: in order to comply, the lock must be used with a tested hardware set, such as the CES free movement cylinder and FUHR panic bar. Carl F Groupco also distributes facefix Strand Antipanic gearing: products offered are the EN 1125 Motorised or Modular Touch Bar, the EN 1125 Modular Push Bar, the EN 179 Modular Push Pad and a lever or knob operated Outside Access device.

For a wide selection of panic / emergency hardware plus advice on regulations and solutions, contact Carl F Groupco, the experts in hardware distribution, services and support.


For more information about our range of Emergency Hardware, click here.

Carl F Groupco Limited: Tel: 01733 393330
For more information, contact sales@carlfgroupco.co.uk
Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handles @Carl_F_Groupco and @_SmartSecure.

Cairngorm Group success supported by Carl F Groupco

Recent contract gains for the Inverness based Cairngorm Group, manufacturers of high energy rated windows, are being supported with hardware supplied by Carl F Groupco. With a Scottish distribution centre located in Cumbernauld, Carl F Groupco has a strong track record in Scotland and a partnership with Cairngorm Group that dates back to 2004.

Recent contracts which incorporate Carl F Groupco’s hardware are announced by Cairngorm Group

Recent contracts which incorporate Carl F Groupco’s hardware are announced by Cairngorm Group

Cairngorm Group began working with award winning new home builder, Springfield, in 2013. Latest news is a contract that has resulted in the company supplying its ninth Springfield development. With each site ranging from 50-100 mixed dwellings, the contract is significant. Commenting on the company’s success supplying Springfield, and the input of Carl F Groupco, David Dowling, Managing Director of Cairngorm Group said:

“An ability to provide a PVCu alternative for timber windows, while maintaining aesthetics and functionality with PN reversible window gearing supplied by Carl F Groupco, was pivotal in Springfield’s decision to work with Cairngorm Group. The PN reversible hinge is particularly important as Scottish Building Regulations stipulate that it must be possible to clean upstairs windows from the inside.

“Carl F Groupco has also supported this contract with the Trojan Patriot hinge, which has been colour matched to complement the design requirements of this development. Colour continues to be a hot trend – for this particular scheme, an anthracite grey RAL 7016 outer was selected with white inner window and door frames.”

An additional contract success announced by Cairngorm Group has been achieved in partnership with Compass Building and Construction Services. Working on behalf of Albyn Housing Association, the prestigious project – which is in year two of a potential four-year contract – will result in renovation of 66 houses during this phase. Originally built in the 1970s to accommodate oil rig workers, timber windows have previously been replaced however, PVCu windows have now been selected to offer enhanced durability and longevity. Having successfully fulfilled the security and insulation standards required, the social landlord & local authority sector is a market set for further development by Cairngorm Group.

Established in 1988, Cairngorm Group is active in trade, commercial and domestic markets. A significant increase in both new build and local council contracts has seen growth in fabrication to around 500 frames per week. Services provided by
Carl F Groupco include product supply, hardware selection support and regulations advice.


For more information about the Cairngorm Group, click here.

Carl F Groupco Limited: Tel: 01733 393330
For more information, contact sales@carlfgroupco.co.uk
Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handles @Carl_F_Groupco and @_SmartSecure.

A Private Matter

An article written for Glass News, April 2017.

John Crittenden, Managing Director, Carl F Groupco.

John Crittenden, Managing Director, Carl F Groupco.

As one of the last remaining privately owned hardware distributors, Carl F Groupco has the ability to adapt, pre-empt demands and respond quickly to changing requirements. In this article for Glass News, John Crittenden explains how autonomy gives the organisation the ability to be open with its staff and flex its offer to react quickly to market demand.


“A major advantage of private ownership is that the company doesn’t have layers of group management to negotiate before implementing new procedures or processes, this ensures high levels of responsiveness throughout the business.
“We can be totally open with our staff which offers significant value… our workforce understands fully the direction of the organisation and importance of service excellence, including next day delivery targets.

“As part of this transparency we introduced Business Conferences where we talk honestly, including reporting our On Time In Full service statistics and sales figures. We look at where we are, what we are doing and what we are going to do. Questions are encouraged, which are collated and responded to. Nothing is hidden which builds trust and understanding. All staff attend, and at each conference one department presents its contribution to customer service: this helps everyone understand that they have a key part to play in meeting our business objectives. Members of our accounts team – traditionally a department that works behind closed doors – presented at the last meeting.

“Staff members at every level are encouraged to be proactive in making proposals for new systems. We don’t just pay lip service with suggestion boxes, when our workers identify areas that could be improved they simply talk to us and initiatives are given due consideration… some of our most effective advancements have come from our workforce.

“Taking the example of customer quotations, an improvement to how these are generated originated from our employees that work with the system. Linking quotes to our central CRM operating system resulted in instant access across the team to view quotes and data regarding profit margins. This empowerment is all important in releasing discretionary effort; it means our workforce doesn’t stick to the letter of job descriptions. 

“Our buddy back up concept was also inspired by front line workers. Members of the internal sales team recognised the benefits of working in tandem with Regional Sales Managers. As everyone has access to the same information, the customer is assured there is always someone available to help.


Warehouse team member Richard Booth with bespoke packaging that he helped design.

Warehouse team member Richard Booth with bespoke packaging that he helped design.

Joint Responsibility

“We all roll our sleeves up, coming together to take joint responsibility. A good example is stock take weekend where everyone, including the management team and company Directors, pulls together to complete the essential audit.

“Refreshingly, warehouse staff are also highly engaged in our customer focus. I believe this is because they are recognised as an essential part of the team and included in all communications. There are many examples of our warehouse staff’s contribution to the bigger business picture. As part of our bespoke packaging for a number of major profile companies there have been a number of occasions where we have presented new challenges. Rather than balk at additional work, they have come up with a brief of how to pack and label to speed up the process and improve the packaging quality. If they have a quiet day, stock is pre-packed in readiness for shipping – this lack of ‘jobs worth’ mentality is invaluable to the successful running of the organisation.

“The benefits of organisational autonomy mean we can move quickly to pre-empt market trends. Carl F direct was our first venture more than one step aside from hardware distribution, this evolved from selling a few tools to a dedicated service. Being constrained by a parent group probably wouldn’t have allowed this initiative.


Full Commitment

“SmartSecure is an excellent example of rapidly establishing a position at the forefront of new technology. There is undeniable growth in smart home technology and we recognised the importance of grabbing this window of opportunity – after extensive research we moved quickly to invest fully in the concept and our solutions.  With our freedom of operation, we have been able to fully commit to the new brand investing in the appointment of a highly qualified Business Development Manager, a showroom and significant marketing collateral including a dedicated website and video.
“As we aren’t overly reliant on own brand hardware we are able to assist customers in developing their own product lines. We can also create bespoke hardware ‘kits’, mixing and matching brands which means  customers buy from one supplier source. To us it just means a willingness to tailor our service, a little extra time and additional wrapping, but the value to our customers is huge.”


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Carl F Groupco Limited: Tel: 01733 393330
For more information, contact sales@carlfgroupco.co.uk

Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handles @Carl_F_Groupco and @_SmartSecure.

Carl F Groupco extends Kenrick door lock family

Carl F Groupco has expanded its range of door locks with the addition of the Excalibur split spindle door lock from Kenrick.

Kenrick and Carl F Groupco have collaborated for more than a decade. During this time, Kenrick has supplied several million window and door locks to the hardware distributor.

To complete the range of Kenrick locking systems it offered, Carl F Groupco decided to add the Kenrick Excalibur split spindle door lock to its family of locking solutions.

John Crittenden, managing director at Carl F Groupco, explains:

“As a leading distributor of window and door hardware solutions, it’s important for us to develop strong partnerships with our suppliers so that we can offer a wide portfolio of high quality products. We’ve worked with Kenrick for many years and there is a great synergy between the two companies. Kenrick supplies a solid range of products, which are backed by great technical support so we had great confidence in adding the Excalibur split spindle door lock to our range. It delivers speed, simplicity and versatility to fabricators, enabling them to quickly and cost effectively fabricate either a lever/lever or a lever/pad system from just one lock.”

Kenrick developed the Excalibur split spindle door lock as an alternative to traditional twin spindle locks which need a longer back plate for all types of operation. The door lock incorporates a standard 92mm centre, which accommodates both long and short back plate handles and either a solid spindle to create a lever/lever lock or a split spindle to create a lever/pad lock.

With three hooks, two steel anti-lift bolts and three rollers, the Excalibur split spindle door lock provides exceptional levels of security and smooth operation.

The Excalibur split spindle door lock is easily extendable and cost effective thanks to its sprung gearbox which eliminates the need for costly sprung handle sets. A wide choice of components, including a one piece keep, individual hook roller and centre hook latch and roller keeps, is also available.

The operation of the door set can easily be adapted, even after installation, by simply changing the handles and spindles without having to change the lock or re-route the door sash.

Kenrick is a leading supplier of hardware solutions for PVCu, aluminium and timber window and door systems. The company has a proud heritage spanning more than 200 years, having been established by Archibald Kenrick who manufactured buckles and livery fittings. Kenrick’s range of top quality products includes the market leading Excalibur multi-point locking system, the four-point Centurion system and the Easifit and Espagnolette locking systems.


For more information on the Kenrick Excalibur Door Lock, click here.

Carl F Groupco Limited: Tel: 01733 393330
For more information, contact sales@carlfgroupco.co.uk

Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handles @Carl_F_Groupco and @_SmartSecure

Nigel Hutchinson and John Crittenden

Proactive Partnerships

An article written for Glass & Glazing Products Magazine, November 2016.


Ingenious locks provide Carl F Groupco with a full range of options for PVC, timber and composite doors.

Ingenious locks provide Carl F Groupco with a full range of options for PVC, timber and composite doors.

In this hardware sector report for Glass and Glazing Products, Carl F Groupco – the established supplier of window and door fittings – details why proactive partnerships are key to growth and development in the distribution market.

Eighteen months ago, a partnership between distributor Carl F Groupco and manufacturer, Ingenious Locks and Hardware was forged when the innovative Professional and Duplex door lock ranges were added to the hardware supplier’s range.

Product benefits, supply capabilities and how the locks complemented Carl F Groupco’s existing range were key to the business arrangement. However, as John Crittenden – Managing Director of Carl F Groupco advises – it is essential to look beyond the specification and the price tag when selecting new partners.  Expanding on the importance of shared brand values and service synergies, John explains:

“To survive and develop in the hardware supply business you have to build a reputation for quality service as well as products. While price definitely matters in this industry, that will quickly be forgotten if there are installation, performance or support issues.

“Strong partnerships with manufacturers are therefore essential in moving the supplier from a distribution business to providing a full-service offering. As a result, we go beyond product and price on our check list…before embarking on a long-term relationship with a manufacturer, we ensure that we have a shared philosophy which will form the basis of a proactive partnership.

“Of course, it isn’t a one way street. The manufacturer needs to be assured that we are going to give them the representation they deserve, which is based on our legacy of technical support and commitment to service.

“The Ingenious team’s technical capabilities and long history in the lock industry were significant factors in developing our relationship. With decades of experience accrued before forming the company, Nigel Hutchinson, Stuart Carpenter and their team knew everything that can go right, and wrong, with a locking system. This deep rooted knowledge is essential. Anyone can design a lock, the secret is understanding what can go wrong… because locks last many years, it takes decades to fully understand the workings, challenges and complexities.

“We are very much on the same page as Ingenious regarding our customer focus – they are always approachable and happy to produce lock variants to meet different customer requirements. Prototypes are supplied quickly, and without fuss, which results in tailored solutions and delighted end users.

“And there is no complacency. We like the way that Ingenious challenge convention. The Duplex version, for example, has evolved away from the two hook, two roller lock, which has been the standard solution for as long as I can remember. Ingenious has taken a step back to see how they can differentiate their offer: the result is a five hook option, which gives sales teams a real differentiator and all important USP. 

The Duplex door lock with double hook, a stand out product in Carl F Groupco’s hardware range.

The Duplex door lock with double hook, a stand out product in Carl F Groupco’s hardware range.

A harmonised relationship

“We are also harmonised regarding technical support for customers which is backed by extensive training. Ingenious staff have provided comprehensive product inductions – they have conducted training sessions and are very hands on. Our technical teams work together and combine their extensive knowledge of PAS 24 and Secured by Design to advise customers and help them through testing. They are also available whenever needed to ensure that we give timely responses to our customers – as we all know, time is of the essence and immediate answers are essential.

“The backing of a ten year fit and forget guarantee gives our customers full confidence in the product: this includes a dedicated on-the-road technician, in house training of fabricators and fitters if required, full guidance or management of testing requirements and complete support through changeover.”

Reinforcing the significance of the partnership, Ingenious’ MD Nigel Hutchinson said:

“We love the brand, the customer experience and the focus that Carl F Groupco brings to service. I have known John and his team for years and our teams share the same passion for development and customer support – these are the essential building blocks for any manufacturer and supplier relationship. The launch of Ingenious has been exciting and we need to be in complete alignment with distributors who share our can do attitude; this is very much the case with Carl F Groupco.”

Carl F Groupco confirms that, from the outset, the locks manufactured by Ingenious have provided its customers with a full range of options for PVC, timber and composite doors. For the hardware supplier, the stand out product is the Duplex door lock, which has been extremely popular: the double hook feature, which is fully security tested, is a real selling point.


For more information on the Ingenious range, click here.


Carl F Groupco Limited Tel: 01733 393330  www.carlfgroupco.co.uk

Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handle @Carl_F_Groupco.

Carl F Groupco customers benefit from Ingenious enhancements

Advancements to Ingenious door locks set to benefit Carl F Groupco customers are highlighted by the hardware supplier. The established distributor of window and door fittings added Ingenious products to its catalogue in 2015 and enhancements have been made to both the Professional and Duplex multipoint door lock ranges.


Advancements to Ingenious door locks are highlighted by Carl F Groupco.

Advancements to Ingenious door locks are highlighted by Carl F Groupco.

Taking a proactive approach to respond to market feedback and fabricator needs, and with continuous investment in R&D, latest Ingenious developments which are spotlighted by Carl F Groupco include additional rollers added to the Professional and Duplex door locks for further compression. Depending on fabricator preference, the Ingenious door lock ranges are now available with either 2 or 4 rollers in addition to high security hook locking. In line with Ingenious’ focus on providing easy-to-install solutions, Carl F Groupco advises that there are no preparatory changes required for any pre-existing users of the door lock when upgrading to the 4 roller version.

A second development is the introduction of a 13mm axis one-piece keep, which is fully capable of achieving PAS 24 with no additional security plates resulting in improved security, enhanced aesthetics and reduced overall costs. Additional fixing holes on the keep also aid secure fixing to walls. Keeps are supplied with cover caps as standard.

Carl F Groupco reports that Ingenious products have been an important addition to its portfolio due to their combination of innovative engineering and value for money. The Ingenious Professional and Duplex have both been successfully tested to PAS 24 and Secured by Design requirements, carry the Secured By Design logo to help provide peace of mind to the home owner and are covered by a 10 year ‘Fit and Forget’ guarantee.


Follow Carl F Groupco on Twitter using the handles @Carl_F_Groupco and @_SmartSecure.