With October seeing the retirement of Dave Cooke, one of the sector supply chain’s best known faces we thought it would be good to hear his thoughts on 28 years working for Mila Window and Door Maintenance.
Dave started the company in 1987 as a specialist contractor committed to maintaining and repairing windows and doors in the social housing sector. Starting a business to specialise in the repair of a product which was being sold to specifiers by suppliers as a ‘no maintenance’ product might seem to have been overly ambitious, but 28 years and over 1 million repairs later it seems that Dave’s idea had been extremely well thought through.
“I appreciate at the time going to my bosses and asking them to invest in a business which on the surface of it ran counter to what was being sold in the market might have seemed a bit off the wall. But having worked in the hardware industry for such a long time prior to that point I could see the problems that were being stored up”.
“I didn’t think my idea was that revolutionary if truth be told and I absolutely understood why specifiers were buying the products the way they were – on the back of the promises being made to them by the suppliers in the industry at that time. Suppliers genuinely didn’t know the limitations of the products they were selling; and specifiers genuinely didn’t appreciate the issues they might face in the future. The fact is that the products being sold were mostly unproven and untested in real world conditions”.
“I will say this though; I am amazed that even today there are specifiers who don’t understand that there is no such thing as a no maintenance product; all product manuals now include in the small print that hardware has to be maintained every 12 months and that failure to do so can result in guarantees being null and void”.
“There is no other product I can think of with working parts – in any field – that at some point doesn’t need maintenance. Windows and doors are no different”.
“The fact that as Mila Window and Door Maintenance we have completed more than 1 million repairs is justification for what we set up all those years ago, and the fact is as the emphasis has moved from first time replacement of products to the management of existing assets the number of clients who have approached us has grown year on year”.
“As I take retirement it is great to know that we have built a sustainable business, one that has absolutely every chance of being around for the next 28 years too; the model is right, so is the product we offer and so are the people who deliver it out in the field and in the office”.
“We have evolved over the years to be a really good business, entrenched in the ethos required of a supplier to the social housing sector. We have embraced all the good practices the sector wants; we are a business which scores massively on the sustainability indices; we deliver at an exemplary level – consistently – to our clients based on good processes and robust long term supply chain relationships; we achieve the highest levels of resident satisfaction; and we fully embrace the idea of social value and inclusivity”.
“These in fact have become some of the key facets of our business and are what has enabled us to become such a major part of the supply chain solution for clients, residents and contactors alike”.
“I am proud to have worked in the social housing sector for so many years, to have met so many great people and to have made so many genuine friends both inside our workplace and amongst our client, resident and contractor partners”.
“It is a sector which is facing some of its toughest challenges, and the multiple demands and pressures upon it are intense. The challenges it is being asked to meet are in many cases things which in past times would never have been laid at its door; but it is a sector full of truly committed people, passionate about what they do, and committed to doing what they set out to do – which is to provide good homes and good communities for people who really need them”.
“I have really enjoyed my time in the social housing sector and I know that what we have built is a great business designed to work ‘for’ it in the truest sense”.
Dave Cooke is retiring as Maintenance Director for Mila Windows and Doors Maintenance. We wish him a long and very happy retirement.