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.

Safe as Houses

SmartSecure from Carl F Groupco: the new generation in electronic door locking and smart access control

No safety and security feature for the window and door industry would be complete without the inclusion of SmartSecure, the high profile brand launched by established hardware distributor Carl F Groupco at this year’s FIT Show. Providing a state-of-the-art solution for electronic door locking and smart access control, SmartSecure captured the market’s attention at its premier. And, as Carl F Groupco illustrated to hundreds of people with its on-stand demonstrations, the technology is proven in operation, fully tested and taking centre stage as a leading new generation lock and control solution.


SmartSecure – the state-of-the-art electronic door locking and smart access control from Carl F Groupco.

SmartSecure – the state-of-the-art electronic door locking and smart access control from Carl F Groupco.

As Carl F Groupco said at the FIT Show:


“If companies want to secure their place in the smart revolution with a brand they can use with confidence, they should look no further than SmartSecure.”


The traditional key is replaced with a range of access control options – the radio fob, supplied as standard, can operate up to four different entrances.  ‘SmartConnect easy’, a USP for the new brand, enables easy door opening and activity monitoring using a smart device. ‘SmartTouch comfort’ is also available – this simple to use variant operated by an active transponder and a sensor provides keyless opening. Other options are a radio fingerprint scanner using advanced biometrics, keypad and transponder. The door lock from SmartSecure is particularly attractive as it is compatible with virtually any access control solution.


Sophisticated smart technology

Featuring the FUHR 881 multitronic fully motorised multipoint mechanism, which has received continued investment over the last decade, customers are assured of the most sophisticated locking capabilities, combined with latest smart technology, to offer a highly advanced solution.


Throughout FUHR’s 150 year history, which includes a long-standing partnership with Carl F Groupco, the company has earned a well-deserved reputation for progressive thinking backed by strong direction, investment and R&D. The product range includes some of the most advanced door locking solutions – the multitronic is the flagship line in FUHR’s latest generation innovations.


As one of the leading players in the UK’s hardware supply sector, Carl F Groupco also has a strong reputation for innovation, which has been reinforced with the introduction of the cutting-edge SmartSecure package. And, with an excellent reputation for highly responsive and comprehensive technical support, no company understands better the importance of safety and security when it comes to hardware.


Strong security and safety benefits

With strong security and safety benefits, the wide ranging appeal of SmartSecure includes housing associations, the growing retirement living sector and care homes. Advantages include the fact that doors are automatically locked on closing, which means that occupants are always secure.


Carl F Groupco advises that housing association feedback includes comments that elderly people can be overly trusting, or may forget to lift a traditional lever handle. Both issues are addressed with SmartSecure technology. The system’s flexibility also ensures that all components can be concealed, which reduces the risk of tampering.


Phil Rice, Carl F Groupco’s Business Development Manager for SmartSecure expands on the security and safety enhancements offered by SmartSecure:

Phil Rice - SmartSecure Bus Dev Mgr_New pic

“There are a number of ways in which SmartSecure provides security advantages. Importantly, the FUHR multitronic 881 locking technology at the heart of the solution automatically locks all points securely and reliably by a patented twin motor in just seconds after closing the door… this means there are no nagging doubts as to whether a door has been locked and increased protection against unwanted intruders is afforded. The multitronic 881 automatically locks the door to a maximum level of security, which avoids human error and enables the door locking status to be checked at any time.


“For visual confirmation that the lock is engaged, an illuminated light on the inside of the door is one indicator.  Locking status can also be identified, if required, using building management systems or bus systems connected to modern building services.


“Sensor monitoring of door leaf and bolt position is also available with the ‘SmartConnect easy’ app: this means that if locking status verification and reliable display is required it can be given from any location, whenever needed.”


Smart, straightforward and stylish

Carl F Groupco stresses that smart locking technology is here to stay and the early adopters will be the companies that set themselves apart. For the very latest locking technology that is not only the ultimate in safety and security but also simple to fit, extremely stylish and a true differentiator for any organisation, Carl F Groupco can provide further details and demonstrations. The company’s technical experts are also on hand to answer any questions.


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


Or you can visit our dedicated SmartSecure website for detailed information on the whole range.


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

West Port selects Carl F Groupco for Ingenious order

The latest development in Carl F Groupco’s long-standing partnership with West Port is the supply of the innovative Ingenious locking solutions.

Carl F Groupco’s supplier partnership with West Port continues with an order for Ingenious locking products.

Carl F Groupco’s supplier partnership with West Port continues with an order for Ingenious locking products.

With a strong reputation for high performance, bespoke timber windows and doors West Port is extremely selective when it comes to supplier relationships. Carl F Groupco has met the company’s exacting requirements with staff continuing to impress with their knowledge, helpfulness and willingness to support.

Commenting, Sean Parnaby, West Port’s Managing Director said:

“Carl F Groupco goes the extra mile helping us to select the correct ironmongery for each of our timber products. They have been more than willing to come to our factory with product samples and have taken the time to sit with us to ensure that they fully understand our needs.

“As one of the leading timber companies in the UK, we supply sites with large volume orders. With Carl F Groupco’s assistance, we fulfil these contracts on time and in full. We have also catered for complex, specialist jobs with their support.”


Carl F Groupco is delighted to receive the endorsement from West Port which confirms the company is delivering on its brand values. The latest order for Ingenious products confirms the market appeal of the new locking solutions.

For more information on Ingenious door locks, please click here.

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