The UK team for Balco Balcony Systems Ltd is based in Reading, where everything from sales queries through to design and project management is handled. We speak to National Sales Manager Pernell Vernon and National Specification Manager Stuart Hubball about how they bring this precision-engineered product from Sweden to homes throughout the UK.
Briefly, how would you describe your job?
Pernell: My main role as National Sales Manager is to promote Balco’s balcony systems to public sector clients, main contractors and private developers. Working across new build and refurbishment projects, we offer a full contracting service from surveys, through to design, manufacture and installation. What we excel at is gaining an understanding of our customers’ needs before finding the perfect solution.
Stuart: Perhaps one of the key elements that makes Balco stand out from the crowd is the flexibility that the product range offers; from a simple balustrade solution to a fully enclosed balcony. My role is to ensure that specifiers are aware of what is available and to help choose a solution that fits well within their plans.
What do you enjoy most about working in this sector?
Stuart: No two days are the same! One day I can be on site wearing PPE and the next I can be presenting CPD to a team of specifiers. Working in an environment where there is a vast knowledge base, both internally within Balco and amongst our clients, means we are constantly developing, innovating and adapting our product and processes. I think the most rewarding aspect of our work is being able to look back at a project and see how a better built environment has positively affected life for residents.
Pernell: I love meeting people; finding out more about them and what has brought them to where they are today. I think it’s really important to make time to listen to our customers, in order to do a good job.
Do architects have very different concerns and requirements to housing directors, and how does Balco marry these differences?
Pernell: We manage those concerns by letting our Balco product range speak for itself. It is both aesthetically pleasing and practical; easy to use and cutting edge in terms of technology.
Stuart: In any project there is a balancing act between budget and design. However, this must never lead to compromise on quality or aesthetics. We have three distinctly different manufacturing facilities and this enables us to tailor the product we supply to suit the needs of all parties.
When talking to specification/purchasing managers, what do you find are the main features about Balco that clients really appreciate?
Pernell: Our absolute attention to detail is often a surprise to people! The personal service from our UK-based team is one of our greatest assets. We make it our priority to find out everything about the project and what is expected from our products, in order to provide a product that is ideally fit for purpose. Our detailed approach gives us the ability to produce a quote that covers everything from manufacturing and supply through to installation. This full-service capability is something our customers really appreciate.
What can Balco offer clients and architects regarding product training and technical knowledge?
Stuart: Enclosing balconies is a relatively new concept in the UK, so we understand the importance of being able to see, touch and feel our products. This is why we offer The Balco Showtruck Experience, where we bring our products over from Sweden and combine this with a CPD presentation. We can also extend an invitation to residents to help manage expectations and provide us with invaluable feedback on how our products are viewed by the people who use them on a daily basis. In addition, we can offer the more conventional CPD seminar format to groups or on a one to one basis.
Pernell: Balco actively promotes educational visits to Scandinavia for potential clients to learn and understand more about the concept of balcony living, which has been part of the culture there for many years. We are very proud of our factories and regularly facilitate tours of our manufacturing plants to ensure that clients are happy with everything.