Transition Glass Products

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Transition Glass Products's best practice article

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 Transition Glass Products is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director
High temperature
production facility
Founded in 2001, Transition Glass is a manufacturer of
specialist glass for the optoelectronics industry. After
being made redundant by SLI Glass, the three founders
went about manufacturing transition glass separately as they
recognised that a niche market existed. Based in Doncaster,
Transition Glass is now a world-leading manufacturer in its
sector and the owners are continuing to expand the business
worldwide. Co-founder and Managing Director Chris Wanless
discusses their recent success in Asia, but also explains that it
took plenty of hard work and endurance to reach the position
they now occupy.
At SLI, the sealing glass department was servicing a niche sector in which very
few capable competitors existed. On being made redundant, my partners and
I presented a business plan for the retention of the sealing glass department,
highlighting the potential for growth and the opportunity for expansion. SLI
declined the opportunity to support us and as a result, we were forced to use our
experience and industry contacts to establish our own separate company: Transition
Glass Products Limited.
Transition Glass was initially unprofitable and we had to monitor the manufacturing
process 24 hours a day because of our lack of automation. We were selling small
quantities of glass to a small pool of clients, but there was a clear gap in the
market, which gave us an opportunity. We knew that our clients and potential
»Managing director:
»Founded in 2001
»Based in Doncaster
»Number of employees: 6
»Services: Production of
transition glass for the
optoelectronics industry
Transition Glass
Highlighting best practice
clients did not want to purchase
sealing glass from direct competitors,
who were often the only companies
with the capabilities to manufacture
the product. As a result, it was clear
that despite the initial difficulties
in establishing a quality product
and service, we had the support
of the industry, which wanted an
independent and reliable supplier
As our quality grew, we developed a
larger client base and our profits rose
sustainably. This enabled us to invest
in new technology that improved
the quality of our products and the
efficiency of our service. Profits were
always reinvested back into the
business, and since 2005 we have not
had to use any additional finance.
Our investment also reduced our
requirement for labour, so we were
able to reduce our hours and grow
quickly with fewer staff than our
competitors. When the demand for
our product grew to a level we could
no longer meet, we hired capable
staff and we are currently a team
Exports and growth
Transition Glass is very different from
a number of our competitors. We
sell our glass by the kilogram – rather
than by the ton – which means we
can service clients of all sizes. We are
able to respond to customer demands
quickly and we have developed strong
relationships that allow our clients to
call me directly. Our turnaround times
are market leading and we work with
the best couriers in Europe, Asia and
North America, which allows us to
supply glass to California within two
days of an initial request. We know all
of our clients personally and many of
our new clients are start-ups that have
spawned from other clients.
100 per cent quality
We sell our
glass by the
kilogram –
rather than by
the ton –
which means
we can service
clients of all
Our glass is of the highest quality and
our customers rely on this. A kilogram
of glass costs between £550 and
£750, and clients want to be sure of
the quality of the product they are
purchasing. Our reputation for quality
and service has been integral in our
recent growth in export revenue. We
now export 95 per cent of our glass to
the rest of the world, with 70 per cent
of it being bought in Asia – mainly in
China, Japan and Indonesia.
In 2003, our first year of profit, we
sold 300 kg of glass and in 2018,
we sold 2,500 kg of glass and next
year we are projecting 3,000. We
experienced 15 per cent growth in
sales from last year, and we have
grown every year since 2003. Our
customers have also been able to grow
with us, which is both a testament
to the quality of our products and a
positive trend for our future growth.
Customers are consistently telling us
that their growth projections are high,
and we are confident that we are
trading in a high-potential sector as
Lessons learnt
A piece of advice I would offer to
any start-up is that you should plan
for success. It sounds simple to say
from my perspective, butour lack
of planning caused personal and
professional tensions further down
the road. Start-ups should outline
clear objectives and goals, and draw
up shareholders’ agreements that can
be looked back on in case of buyouts
or disputes. The personal turmoil
disagreements can cause can be
damaging and they take focus away
from the business.
We have found it difficult to recruit
young people and recent graduates,
and we haven’t been impressed with
their work ethic. As a result, we have
employed people in their thirties, and
while some do not necessarily have
the highest level of qualifications,
they have been eager to learn and
willing to take on feedback. I never
ask my staff to perform a task that I
would not do, and instead I use my
experience to answer their questions
and lead by example. I am also aware
that there is more than one way to
complete a task and the team are
free to develop their own methods
Highly skilled and
motivated staff
Rigorous testing
I never ask my
staff to
perform a task
that I would
not do

This article was sponsored by Transition Glass Products. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy