25 years of innovation at Laydex

Adaptability and Innovation is a mantra that has guided Laydex through boom years, recession, pandemics and a quarter century of growth and success. Today, having a vision has never been more important, as Managing Director Peter Woods tells the THJ.

When Laydex was founded back in September 1995 with just seven employees, the world and the construction industry were very different.

One of Ireland’s leading suppliers of building products to the hardware industry began life in a small industrial unit in Tallaght and comprised two core agencies – Index Torch-On felts and Laybond Flooring Adhesives.

But timing and forward-thinking, encapsulated by their Adaptability and Innovation ethos, reaped rewards and the young company rode the wave of Ireland’s rapidly growing economy.

25 years on, Laydex Building Solutions remains a family firm, but now has nearly 50 staff operating from a cutting-edge 50,000 sq. ft sales, warehousing, and distribution hub on the Kylemore Rd, Dublin 10.

Plenty of space for the extensive product portfolio, which includes a huge range of construction materials and leading international brands in roofing, flooring, and building products.

Laydex has built a reputation on providing solutions for builder’s merchants and hardware retailers, not only through trusted high-quality products but also first-class service and support.

As Laydex celebrates a milestone anniversary in what has been an extraordinary and challenging year, now is a good time, says Managing Director Peter Woods, to consider key moments in their story so far which can offer vital insights for the future.

Irish independence

Laydex was established as an Irish, family-owned and operated business by Ian Woods, CEO.

His original business partner and Sales Director, Gerry Callan, succeeded Ian as Managing Director ten years ago. Gerry was later joined by Ian’s son Peter, who has been Managing Director for the last three years. Both have a wealth of industry experience between them.

As a fully independent enterprise, Laydex has been free to plot its own course and respond to the evolving needs of its retail and construction sector customers and the industry in Ireland.

Standout products and premises

From early on, the Laydex founders realised Ireland’s trade and retail customers value having a one-stop resource that can deliver solutions for multiple requirements.

Laydex supplies an immense array of products that come from trusted brands within the four core areas; Building Products, Flooring, Roofing and Passive Fire Protection.

Building Products alone covers literally thousands of items, all meeting the latest industry regulations. Peter says, “We distribute a very broad range of building materials nationwide and have technical expertise in place to further support the sale of these products.”

Within the specialist divisions dedicated to Flat Roofing, Commercial Flooring and Fire Stopping, expert staff members deliver technical guidance and design assistance.

To accommodate it all; a newly refurbished extensive facility conveniently sited in Dublin 10, which Peter affirms can “Ensure we can give our customers a first-class, efficient service. The company headquarters and distribution centre has seen a transformation in its office spaces, show rooms, trade counter area and exterior, to enhance both the customer and
staff experience. The façade of the building now features our corporate colours, while the contemporary interior is designed to showcase our product range.”

Constructive Relationships

This ability to adapt to challenges and changes has been a key factor in the company’s success. For example, as Peter explains, “The recession was a huge challenge for all involved in the Irish construction industry and we had to pivot towards products suited to the refurb market as opposed to new build”. It is this commitment to quality and adaptability that saw the
company introduce some of their top brands over the years, including Tyvek, Permabase, Syn-Oxide, and their flagship brand Fortessa. “As a Company, we have always sought out new opportunities in line with changing construction practises and so we were fortunate to begin distributing the Fortessa range of Door Handles and also Permabase Fibre Cement Boards.”, explains Peter.

From the earliest days, Laydex has also been focusing on Adaptability and Innovation, on behalf of their customers. Much of its growth and innovation has been based on customer feedback, research and keeping a close eye on industry developments, says Peter.

“It is important to listen to our customers and respond to their needs and future requirements. We always aim to find new ways, together with our manufacturing partners, to make our products more efficient and easier to work with, bearing in mind the environmental impact, and health and safety.”

Laydex believe that tradesmen are looking for top quality products manufactured using the latest technologies and complying with modern building practises. Where opportunities exist, they work with new and existing suppliers to bring these products to the Irish hardware industry.
This partnership approach ensures all building products set and exceed standards.

These close customer and supplier relationships have also helped Laydex to identify and address critical industry needs in line with changing building regulations.

Product Innovation

The company continues to invest in NSAI and other appropriate certification for both new and existing products. By early next year Laydex would hope to have ten different NSAI certificates across their product range. “We continue to invest in certification to give our customers and our customers` customers assurances that they are buying products at the top end of the market in terms of quality and performance” says Peter.

The company also identified an increasing demand for composite decking products. “We researched the market and partnered with a leading global manufacturer to bring our Teranna branded decking to the market. We have seen healthy growth in this area year-on-year since we first introduced it three years ago.”

Peter explains and pointed out that all Laydex composite decking is produced solely from recycled materials, as part of their commitment to sustainability.

Information at a touch

Technology is driving many changes at Laydex, making it easier for customers to view products, get specification data, and stay in touch with their sales and technical specialists.

The company’s easy-to-use website, www.laydex.ie, includes a helpful display of product catalogues, case studies and technical resources.

“Having information instantly available at peoples’ fingertips is critical to everyone today and we do our best to ensure as much information as possible is available for our customers on our website.” Peter also hinted at the launch of a new online ordering portal, adding yet another interactive option for customers.

People focussed

But nothing can ever replace dealing directly with people to find the right solutions, so the know-how of the Laydex team is essential for assuring exceptional service customers can count on.

Laydex has a highly committed and experienced staff, many of whom have been with the company for over 20 years, including Ian Woods, Gerry Callan, and Gaye O’Connor – on the team since its foundation.

When asked to share his secrets to a healthy business, Peter made it clear that, at Laydex, “It’s all about the tradespeople and other key contacts in the Irish hardware industry who they serve every day. People buy from people at the end of the day and we are people-focussed. All of our staff appreciate that they have a responsibility to put the customer first.”

Because customer-focus is ingrained in the organisation from top to bottom, everything Laydex do is geared around providing their customers with the first-class service they pride themselves on.

That is at the core of their success.

Connectivity

Laydex values its industry memberships to keep ahead of developments within the industry and forge mutually beneficial relationships.

The business continues to reinforce its ties with the building materials sector through membership of integral industry networks, such as Hardware Association Ireland and the Construction Industry Federation.

Looking to the future

If the rate of change between 1995 and 2020 has been astonishing, the future holds even greater challenges and opportunities – current Covid-19 issues, global warming, technology, Brexit, regulatory developments, just for starters.

But, in keeping with their ethos of Adaptability and Innovation Peter and his team are optimistic. They are confident that their online ordering plans and enhanced premises will bring customer service to a new level.

What’s more, in these unprecedented times, the reputation of Laydex as a solid, trusted, and progressive company has continued to rise, particularly when it comes to hot topics such as sustainability, fire rating and thermally efficient modern building solutions.

“Our industry can be confident we will provide premium products and practical support wherever Ireland needs them.” Says Peter. 25 years of success is testament to this commitment to customer focus and customer-inspired innovation.