Folding Sliding Doors Limited is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Demand has rocketed and competitors may have arrived but this complex product is still best left to the experts, says founder Paul Shearman.
It was 2001 when Paul Shearman, a joiner working in the window industry, developed an inline folding sliding door system. The main improvement over previous attempts was in the hardware. He used flush hinges, slim handles and a running track on the top and bottom of the opening for even weight distribution and ease of operation of the opening panels.
The appeal of this product was that the door leaves folded neatly to create a wider opening – perfect for cafes in summertime or rooms in the home that face the garden, to give just two examples.
Paul Shearman continued to improve his product. "We were the first to develop an inline PVC-U folding sliding door system with no face fixed hardware and concealed running gear in 2003", he says. Paul's development was an advance on the cumbersome out bound hardware that was available and the introduction of running tracks meant smooth operation and the positive support to enable the manufacture of taller and wider folding sliding doors. Flush tracks were fitted as standard, complying with Part M disability access regulations, and the absence of faced fixed hinges made the installation more secure.
Within two years Folding Sliding Doors had acquired premises and was employing 16 staff to manufacture the product, which utilised VEKA Matrix PVC-U window and door profile. Turnover had reached £1 million by 2003. This year the Bradford company is on course to achieve £10 million turnover.
Today, the company makes inline folding sliding doors in aluminium, timber, ali-clad timber and a range of PVC-U systems. In addition, Folding Sliding Doors manufactures its own range of hardware which it supplies to some major retail and commercial trade manufacturers.
The popularity of these glazed doors has soared during the company's time in business as property owners have realised the potential of wider openings in commercial buildings and homes. This type of product, often supplied by Folding Sliding Doors, has featured on many TV home improvement programmes.
The product commands a high value. Consequently many installation companies have been keen to add it to their portfolio and some new companies have tried their hand at manufacturing it. A recent trend has seen several window systems companies develop their own system in an effort to grab a share of this market for themselves.