Farewell to co-founder John Kettell after nearly 50 years in the industry
John Kettell, our co-founder (and father to our Managing Director, John) is beginning a well-deserved retirement after almost fifty years in the industry.
John joined the industry in 1976 as Sales Manager for Schlegel (UK) Engineering Ltd, a major supplier of seals to the window industry at that time. John’s knowledge of windows and their performance requirements was gained via visits to various European divisions which then influenced the design and development of sealing solutions for the UK aluminium and timber window manufacturers.
In 1981, John left Schlegel to take up a position as Sales Manager for a northern company based near Manchester. However, after four years and driving up to 80,000 miles a year, which meant being away from home three to four days a week (which was not compatible with a young family), John embarked on self-employment and set up his own company with a partner. John and his partner supplied and installed aluminium and aluminium composite windows & doors to the Trade and Public. The partnership weathered the 1989 recession but ended in 1995 with both partners going their separate ways.
John returned to employment as Sales and General Manager with Northern UPVC window companies and, in 2001, was joined by his son John (otherwise known as ‘young John’), who quickly developed a shared passion for customer service and product quality.
Setting up in business together seemed a natural next step and, in 2005, Kettell Windows was conceived.
As John explains,
“Slowly but surely, we built the business from the contacts in my little black book across Leicestershire and down to London. In the same year, we took on our first employee – our delivery driver, Glenn, who is still with the business today. Initially, we only offered trade windows but were often asked to install them.
“My wife, Pat, quickly joined the business as Administrator – answering telephones, typing quotations, invoices and so on.”
The business soon outgrew its initial premises in Loughborough and moved to its current premises in East Goscote, in the Charnwood District of Leicestershire. Through John’s commitment to customers, the business flourished and it was necessary to take on two units, one of which now houses Kettell Windows’ impressive showroom, and the other its storage facility. With this expansion, John was tirelessly quoting, surveying, and sometimes installing and managing the installation schedule at all hours of the day.
It was clear more help was needed and three family members in the business were to become four when, in 2018, daughter-in-law Lisa (also wife to young John) joined the business as Sales and Marketing Director. A stronger focus on marketing only adds to the business’s continuing stream of local enquiries, and means that John and Pat are able to finish on a high after the best-ever year of sales and profits.
After almost half a century, John has, of course, seen much change within the industry; particularly over the last five years or so, when Building Regulations have rapidly changed and customers are becoming more aware of insulation values. As he points out,
“Insulation values have increased by some 30%. Ten years ago, the UV values were simply A, B, C and D. Now the scale includes windows A +13! It really has moved on a lot. We’ve always tried to keep ahead of legislation, not by simply matching current standards, but by rigorously testing our products to make sure they exceed standards.”
John has every faith Kettell Windows will continue in safe hands,
“Young John certainly has the business head to take it forward. Together with Lisa, he attends the relevant trade seminars to keep abreast of what’s happening across the industry and passes his knowledge on to our trade customers to ensure they comply with the latest requirements. He has vision regarding the aesthetics of installations and always recommends products that will enhance a house without changing its character.”
On reflecting on his retirement, John adds,
“I am most proud of the fact that, from nothing, we are now one of the largest independent suppliers in Leicestershire. We have built up a huge amount of supplier and customer loyalty, and I am immensely proud that we are now serving many of the children of our original customers. “I could have carried on until the age of 80, but my family tell me that shimmying under bay windows at the age of 73 is no longer appropriate!
“I am looking forward to spending more time with Pat, my family and friends, having the opportunity to take more than one week’s holiday at any one time, and no doubt being roped into ferrying our six grandchildren, aged 18 to 5, to anything from football to Saturday jobs!!”
John and Pat will be marking their retirement at a party at their daughter Jennifer’s restaurant, Charnia, in Quorn on 28th January.
We wish them all the best for many happy years of retirement, and thank them for all they have done for the business.