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In the Hot Seat – Mike Derham, Chairman of Mighton Products – GGP Mag May issue

What was your route into the industry?

Back in the late 70’s I started up a small carpentry and joinery company based in east London. Our main source of business came from refurbishing sash windows for housing associations in and around the Hackney area, but we also produced replacement sash windows when the existing ones has deteriorated beyond repair. Repeatedly we came across examples of poor quality hardware which prompted me to design and manufacture my own range. Within two years I had given up the joinery and Mighton Products was born.

What changes (good and bad) have you seen in your time?

Since Mighton’s early days there has been a huge increase in popularity for refurbishing period properties and the demand for authentic replacement products. The price of properties has increased dramatically and this has made the cost of replacing or refurbishing timber windows more justifiable and attractive and less of an issue than it would have been in the past. As with any investment homeowners see it as adding value.

You do a lot of business in the US – could you highlight some of the main differences in how that market compares to the UK?

Our main market in the USA is with the large window and door manufactures, some of whom have turnovers in the billions of dollars. One of our key products distributed there is the Angel Ventlock. We worked with the American Standard Test Method (ASTM) Sub-Committee to develop new standards of safety, work that ultimately resulted in the introduction of child window fall prevention standards ASTM F2090-2008 and 2010.

Mighton has been at the forefront of this drive and continue to work closely with their engineering departments, something that contributed to Mighton winning a Reader’s Choice Award in a top US industry magazine. The US standards differ to Building Regulations in the UK so we had to be mindful that we were meeting requirements for both when refining all products in the range.

With a resurgence in ‘premium’ products such as aluminium, do you see timber windows making a similar comeback?

Timber windows have made a significant comeback in recent years. Because timber sash windows were made to non-standard sizes they don’t lend themselves to mass production in the replacement market. They are therefore an excellent proposition for the small to medium size joiner. The prices achieved are unheard of in the PVC and aluminium window market and margins are high. We see our role as supporting our sector of the industry with the highest quality products that enable the joinery manufacturer to justify their prices and margins.

What is your opinion on the state of the UK fenestration industry at the moment?

Post Brexit we were expecting a drop in sales but this is yet to materialise. The fall in the pound has had a more serious affect. Fortunately legislation drives our sector of the industry and like for like replacement is compulsory in many areas, such as in conservation zones and for listed properties. This gives some element of assurance but the future is still uncertain. Mighton have moved into other areas of supply, such as coatings and machinery, to ensure we remain resilient – diversification is key.

And how do you think things will develop in the short to medium term?

We have been around for several recessions since starting out and have found that replacement and refurbishment often thrives during these times. Also our customer base includes highly skilled individuals who adapt well to market conditions.

Are you going to the FIT Show?

Yes, of course. The aluminium and PVC market are very important to our future development. We are excited to announce that Mighton has recently become an Apple MFI approved manufacturer to develop products for the emerging ‘Internet of Things’ related hardware market. This is a very exciting area that I couldn’t have imagined when I started the business. We also have many friends in the industry, including those made through our support and participation with GM Fundraising, who we are looking forward to seeing.

What do you like to do to relax away from work?

Work is relaxing. We always have so many varied projects going on everyday. It’s rarely stressful and I think of it more of a hobby than work. Having said that it’s always nice to get back and relax at home with my family after travelling, which is necessary with an international business such as Mighton Hardware.