To celebrate 40 years of Colorminium, we sat down with Ross Price (Managing Director at Colorminium) to find out how Colorminium has stood the test of time and how the industry has changed.
Colorminium is 40 this year. You must be very proud of what the company has achieved?
We are very proud of our legacy. You only have to look over the London skyline to see the impressive array of projects we’ve worked on over the years, utilising different styles, materials and designs.
We’ve had 40 years of success, but we always feel we have more to learn, and more challenges to face, which will help us grow and advance as a company. We can never sit back and say, ‘we’ve made it!’, because there is always room for improvement.
We question what we do, why we exist, and we genuinely believe that through our contribution, we add value for clients with buildings that enable them to enhance their public profile or attract and retain staff.
How has Colorminium withstood the test of time?
Passion and being a family-owned company. Our passion for what we do is inherited, passed down through the generations. We have strong core values and an integrity that goes back to my grandfather who insisted that ‘our word is our bond’. We have customers going back 25 years to my dad’s generation who will say ‘Ian does what he says’.
Customers never forget honesty – they remember the traits and culture of a particular company because its what sets them apart. Honesty comes naturally to us – its not a strategy its just who we are. We are not interested in making a quick buck.
Over the years have you noticed any particular trends or fashions in design or materials?
I’ve worked over the years on site and in factories and I do remember a time when, for example, blackened aluminium was all the rage. Everyone wanted it!
Dark glass was another trend – You often see buildings particularly those designed in the 70s and 80s featuring green and darker shades of glass, whereas the current trend is for transparent glass.
Interestingly, bronze is a material that is in a revolving cycle – it was very popular years ago, then out of fashion, but is now once again in high demand.
Anodised material is currently popular – dark bronze anodised, which we have in our own reception. Its replaced a trend for powder coated finishes.
We used to do a lot of curtain walling but now it is all about unitised glazing. It makes a lot of sense because it can be constructed off-site, in a more controlled environment. Its great for constrained urban sites which require tight logistical control. Storing materials is an issue – particularly in London – so being able to bring in complete projects and crane them into place is ideal. It’s a construction method that is evolving, though perhaps not at the pace currently required.
We do find that many architects are really pushing the boundaries of design and testing the technology and capabilities of materials. We see designs which require bigger panes of glass, so slimmer aluminium frames for example. Design is pushing the industry to be more innovative in achieving the desired finish.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the industry?
There is a skills shortage I think. I also believe that we need to bring in other specialists from different industries and backgrounds.
In some ways our industry is a little archaic. In the automotive industry for example, cars are simply not built in the same way they were 20 years ago, they use robotic production lines and very little manual labour. By comparison the construction industry builds a concrete frame in London pretty much the same way as it did 20 years ago.
We need to bring young blood into the industry, possibly via digital technologies. We need to harness some of that energy to create great, fun jobs in construction. We need to engage young people via schools and colleges by offering apprenticeships and explaining the benefits of working in this sector. A lot of young people will thrive in this industry – they just need to be guided to it.
Brexit is a challenge, of course. We need to overcome the current uncertainty to encourage the ongoing investment which will drive development.