Chris Wyatt Home Improvements

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Chris Wyatt Home Improvements is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
Managing Director Chris Wyatt
Decades of experience
in renovations
Managing Director Chris Wyatt started his career
in manufacturing in 1973, and since then has
accumulated a wealth of experience in home and
business renovations. More specifically, he has developed an
expertise in improving windows, doors, conservatories and
building work more generally – all under the banner of home
and commercial improvements. He’s seen the industry evolve
in different directions, not least in terms of the transition from
aluminium windows to uPVC ones, which was inspired by
developments abroad. Being, as he was, at the fore of such
developments, Chris is well positioned to tell
The Parliamentary
about the industry and his place in it.
The term “double glazing” initially encompassed all manner of products and
services available in the window and door industries. As conservatories entered the
market, this brought in building work – for example, glass roofs and orangeries,
among others – and, at the time, also embraced commercial aluminium systems,
which meant there were a lot of hidden options within this sector.
The birth of double glazing was “secondary glazing”: an inner glass placed over
the inside of the existing window, which was the best way to cut out the draughts.
Sold at a premium, it saw companies like Everest, Crittall, Hope, Alpine and
Weatherseal covering the country with canvassers and door-to-door salesmen, of
which I was one.
»Managing Director: Chris Wyatt
»Established in 1979
»Based in Lincoln
»Services: Home and
commercial improvements and
»No. of employees: 6
»Started as a pipefitter welder,
but moved on to windows
»Decades of experience
Chris Wyatt Home
An overhaul
I progressed towards the manufacture
of aluminium systems and teamed up
with a gentleman called Terry Moralee,
a true entrepreneur who was an
expert in building and an exceptionally
astute businessman. Terry decided we
should go to Germany and see how
replacement windows were made, as
there were no manufacturers in this
country at that time. This was to be
my induction into the fabrication of
In the early years, there was an obvious
profit in the manufacture of uPVC,
which led to a massive growth in the
industry. There were no real standards
to adhere to except the supplier of
the extrusion manufacturing details.
However, the introduction of ISO
standards added much-needed
quality control into the industry – a
development that I welcomed.
Later years saw the birth of Fensa and
similar bodies to regulate the installation
of windows and doors. You could also
join the Glass and Glazing Federation,
who were enormously helpful in the
beginning, as well as other bodies
offering guarantee schemes that aimed
to protectcustomers.
Moving on to today, we find this
industry to be a competent one, but
one in which battles with suppliers have
increased, as lead times have become
more demanding and building projects
are pushed hard to achieve completion.
A need for support
As companies expanded, the initial
funding was from banks and various
backers. Many large companies took
over the small and medium-sized
companies, and the larger companies
basically controlled the small non-
manufacturing ones. In some cases,
this caused companies like ours
considerable cash-flow issues.
Throughout this period, moreover,
there was no government assistance,
and it was not until the government
introduced the funding circle that
any official notice was taken by the
authorities. By this time, companies
had gone bust on a regular basis,
meaning the Insolvency Service was
– as it still is – kept constantly busy. It
would have been better if the money
this body spent had been put towards
a proper business start plan. HMRC
has always had its hands full chasing
returns and outstanding payments, and
in the early years of VAT introduction,
small and large companies were
shut and flattened by this powerful
government body.
It was not until the last few years that
HMRC took the view that it’s better
to let a company survive and make
regular payments than to shut it down,
often with the effects of traumatising
individuals and causing massive
personal grief to the families involved.
We have survived as a company by
experience born from the ups and
downs of the economy, as well as
from the constant cash-flow battle of
creditors and debtors.
Improving commercial
premises – Tower Hotel
near the historic Bailgate
area in Lincoln
Battles with
suppliers have
increased, as
lead times have
become more
demanding and
building projects
are pushed hard
to achieve
Highlighting best practice
We and many companies like us
survive on fine profit margins, which
can be eaten away by all kinds of
hiccups, including bad weather, late
deliveries, bad payers and non-payers,
among many others. This has a
knock-on effect for customers and the
companies involved.
How things can improve
Many companies fail because they try
to sell a product without prior market
research. It’s an absolute must, which
too many fail to appreciate, especially
within our industry. This could help
prevent many of the problems caused
by collapsed businesses. Blame cannot
be placed wholly on the business
owner, though. The government
encourages enterprise without first
putting in place a credible business
plan. A lot of the people starting
businesses do not have sufficient
knowledge of the pitfalls, and this
is something the government could
help remedy.
More concretely, the government
should make it a rule that no company
can trade until its proprietors and
directors have attended a week-long,
government-run course that includes
training from genuinely experienced
business people and contributions
from representatives of HMRC, banks
and suppliers, who can inform the
prospective business owners about
what awaits them.
The scheme should include monthly
reviews and assistance to stop the
problems that are on the horizon,
thereby allowing companies to steer
in the right direction. Perhaps it would
be best offered as an optional scheme
with an incentive to attend. If not
attended, there could be mandatory
surveys on a monthly basis, with
help on hand to assist companies to
At present, too much money and
too many resources are used up by
the Insolvency Service and HMRC. It
would surely be better spent training
and funding both new and existing
companies. It might be difficult, but in
the end it would pay off.
A lot of the
people starting
businesses do
not have
knowledge of
the pitfalls,
and this is
something the
could help
Based in Lincoln

This article was sponsored by Chris Wyatt Home Improvements. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.