Chris France

General Manager

Chris France, now General Manager at Mila Maintenance and Installation, was one of the first to join the team. With 27 years-service behind him, the 30th anniversary of the company marks an important milestone.

At the start we had three people, one van and one not very mobile phone.

Chris France, now General Manager at Mila Maintenance and Installation, was one of the first to join the team. With 27 years-service behind him, the 30 th anniversary of the company marks an important milestone.

It is fair to say that I have seen some considerable changes in the business, from its humble beginnings to what it has become today.

The company was initially set up out of the Mila Hardware business. The technical team there were regularly called out to rectify faulty hardware, only to find that it was actually the initial manufacture or the installation which was the cause of failure. But regardless it was there job to put it right.

This was at a time when the PVCu industry was in its infancy, and the German systems which were the first to come into the UK were all Tilt and Turn. The mechanisms by traditional British standards were very complex, and nowhere near as robust as they are today. Most of the jobs we got called to were to repair or replace parts of the gearing.

In today’s set up that would be straight forward enough, but at that time we had three men, one van, one not very mobile phone, no office and no warehouse for parts – the replacement parts we needed were literally delivered to whichever pub we were staying at the carry out the works the following day.

“This was the time we carved out a reputation for customer service which we still hold today”

While we now talk to clients about planned maintenance and cyclical maintenance, in those days everything was responsive, so Monday and Tuesday in Brighton replacing gearing that was not fit for coastal locations was followed by Edinburgh on Wednesday and Portsmouth on Thursday. We were not efficient, we were totally responsive, but this is the time we carved out a reputation for customer service which we still hold today. These days formed the foundations of our business.

These were also the days we found our niche in creating innovative solutions to complex problems, such as in Sunderland, where the In-line Pivot windows installed in North Sea facing high-rise housing blocks were allowing significant water ingress into the homes of the residents. We worked out that we could replace the Pivot sash with an opening in Tilt and Turn sash with heavy duty gearing. We conducted a successful trial, permanently removing the potential for water ingress, and the council signed off the works.

It was a great moment for us as a company, showing the strength of our technical knowledge, and Sunderland was the case study on which we based a number of other models for repairing windows in high rise applications.

In fact, probably my favourite job in all the time I have been with the company stemmed from this, with the refurbishment of three blocks of high-rise living accommodation in Scunthorpe just a couple of years ago. Working with United Living, an outstanding contractor partners, we completely re-geared, re-gasketed, re-glazed and re-guaranteed close to 1,000 windows saving the client Ongo Homes substantial amounts of money against the cost of replacement.

It was a further recognition of our innovative culture and our technical thinking, and a scheme which we can all look back on with great satisfaction as a job well done and entirely in keeping with the ethos we set out with 30 years ago, which was to demonstrate to clients that their windows and doors could be repaired and maintained and do not always
need to be replaced.

The business is very different to how it was when I started, but I am delighted to have grown with it and to have played my part in making it the success it is today.

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