Steve Cooling

Getting to know: Steve Cooling – MD of Aspect Windows

Grow magazineAspect Windows Managing Director Steve Cooling talks to local business magazine Grow Exeter providing an insight into his and Aspect Windows background, the challenges he has faced so far and his vision.

Grow Exeter is a growth focused magazine, telling stories of the people within the local community. Championing and celebrating everything which Exeter’s economy has to offer.

Pick up Novembers issue of Grow magazine or read the full story below.

Getting to Know…

Steve Cooling – Managing director of Aspect Windows

Tell me about your background and career so far?

Steve Cooling MD of Aspect WindowsAfter graduating in business management at Bath University, I joined the family glazing business, which was 19 years ago now. My parents had built the company from the ground up. At that time we specialised in the PVC commercial market, carrying out glazing installations for schools, blocks of flats, office buildings and government buildings.

My Dad unexpectedly passed away in 2008, so at the age of thirty, I took over the business and the responsibility for twenty employees. Due to market changes in the commercial field the business had to evolve. So, for the past eight years, we have focused and developed our experience in the architectural and high-performance glazing market – working closely with architects, developers and self-builders.

We now have forty staff, a team of line managers who manage each department, a dedicated aluminium and PVCu manufacturing facility, a 110m2 showroom to show off the products we offer and allow customers to experience the products before buying. You wouldn’t buy a car without seeing it first, we feel the same about glazing. And links with all the glazing brand leaders in Europe, being their approved dealers for the Southwest.

What have some of your challenges been to date?

Losing my Dad, who started Aspect Windows and grew the business for twenty-five years. Just two years after losing him and taking over the business, due to changes in the market, I realised I had to create a new business model and team in order to move forward and grow.

What have some of your most notable successes been to date?

Because I am a workaholic and always at the office I think keeping my wife for the past twenty-two years has been quite an accomplishment!

What is the vision of your organisation?

My main focus is never to be the biggest, it’s to be the best. Therefore remaining the leaders in our field.

What is it like doing business in Exeter?

Originally Aspect Windows started its life in Exmouth, but nine months after I joined the company, my Dad and I decided to move the company to Exeter, due to better networking opportunities and better transport connections. This is one of the best business decisions I have made to date. Exeter has given us so many opportunities and a scope for growth. I really believe that Aspect wouldn’t be where it is today if we hadn’t made that move.

Describe your organisation’s cultural values?

As a family business for over forty years, our values are: integrity, accountability, responsibility and fun.

What products and services does your company offer?

Primarily we offer architectural window and door glazing solutions, such as large contemporary sliding doors and bi-folding doors, curtain walling and entrance doors.

We work with architects, developers, self-builders, and private clients in refurbishment, extension and new build projects. We offer the full package, with a showroom where customers can come and experience the products before making any decisions. We also have a Survey team who will expertly measure the window and doors apertures to ensure the glazing fits perfectly.

Then, in our manufacturing plant, we fabricate a number of the doors and windows which we supply and install in-house – all made to measure, giving us better control over the quality and the turnaround time. Plus, a team of highly skilled installers who expertly install the glazing. Once installed we also have an aftercare team in the unlikely event that the homeowners have any issues with their new glazing.Single storey extension - van-Ellen-Sheryn Chartered Architects

What is your dream meal?

You can’t beat a traditional family roast and I am very partial to a pint of Guinness.

What does the future hold for you?

Perhaps trying to find more of a work/life balance.

What one piece of advice has stood you in good stead during your career to date?

From my dear dad in his northern way. When handing over the business in his last days, he said, ‘Here you are son. Don’t f**k it up!’

What advice would you give yourself if you could time-travel back 10 years?

Perhaps to spend more time with my children when they were tiny. But, my work/life balance is gradually shifting for the better in that respect.

What are the values that drive you (personally and professionally)?

Loyalty to my family – a desire to provide for them. I believe success only comes with hard work.

Could you recommend a book that you have recently read?

I’m not a great reader to be honest, not of books anyway, I find more enjoyment flicking through ‘Home Build and Renovation’ magazines. Or my guilty pleasure ‘Total Carp’ magazine!

What do you like to do outside of work time?

Spending time doing outdoor activities with my family, watching Exeter Chiefs and I love a movie night with popcorn and my three boys.

If you were an item of breakfast food, what would you be and why?

Porridge – its reliable and solid like me. You know what you’re dealing with!

Do you have a favourite band or song?

Police, Sting, Levellers… my boys are trying to bring me up to date!

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"The whole process has been excellent - I really appreciate the patience you've taken on what is a huge expenditure for a passion project, working with total amateurs! You've always taken the time to answer questions, explain options and crucially, make recommendations when nativity/inexperience clouds our judgement. A real skill and something I personally have really appreciated as I feel confident that we now have windows and doors that complement our house, design and style. Without that level of consultative engagement and relationship I'm confident I would have overlooked details and made a substandard decision. Thank you!"

Mrs Trestain, Padstow

"Just a quick note of thanks to the whole team for our fab windows and doors, we are delighted with both the product and also with the whole fitting process. The lads were brilliant (it's not often you get trades in the house who leave it cleaner at the end of the day than when they arrive in the morning!!) and just quietly got on with the job. Thank you again"

Mr & Mrs Leonard, Exeter

"The pocket sliding door and gable look amazing, it’s an impressive bit of kit and it’s a revelation to be able to open the space up! I have to say we’ve been very impressed with all your teams positivity, professionalism and workmanship, from start to finish - so a big thank you…"

Mr Marsh, Exeter

"I would like to thank you for the quality of the service we have received from Aspect Windows and commend you for the care and attention that we have received throughout the process. I am thoroughly pleased with our new windows and would recommend your services to anybody who asks."

Mr & Mrs Miller, Exmouth

"I wanted to just send my thanks and appreciation. We had an install approx. 6 years ago including some bi-fold doors which in recent weeks appeared to have dropped and became very difficult to lock. I called the office on Monday and a lady took my details and quickly called me back suggesting you had an engineer locally the following day. He arrived and was extremely polite and efficient and diagnosed a broken hinge. He went back to the depot collected the replacement part, then returned to Budleigh and completed the repair. We really appreciate the speed and efficiency with which you dealt with the issue and the ease from a customer perspective. "

Mr Ashby, Budleigh Salterton

"I just wanted to say thank you for the excellent service you have provided in the planning, removal & installation of our beautiful new windows and doors. We were completely amazed & delighted at the speed of which the installation took place and the hard work put in by the installation team. They worked very efficiently and communicated with me at ease through the week so I knew their plans with each room for installation. All the windows & door look great and we have already had lots of compliments. "

Mrs Oakes-Ash, Exmouth

"We would like to thank everyone at Aspect Windows for the fantastic service that we have received on our project. From start to finish, you have been so professional and we are totally thrilled with our sliding doors and our side door. We would not hesitate to recommend you to anyone thinking of undergoing a similar project."

Mrs Moores, Templecombe

"We would just like to say how excellent the service has been from Aspect Windows from beginning to end. The salesman could not have been more helpful, we felt completely unhurried and un-pressured. The fitter was also extremely good, he was neat, careful and very respectful of our property as well as being very sociable and polite. Congratulations Aspect Windows on a really good job I wish everything in life could be so straightforward!"

Mr Foster, Exeter

"I had chosen Aspect Windows in Exeter to supply the glazing as they had a good reputation and specialised in aluminium doors windows and curtain walling. Aspect were brilliant throughout the design and fitting process, working to incredibly tight tolerances especially on the curtain walling."

Mr Abdilla, Exeter