Our Review of 2019
Hi! My name is Arthur Biden and I am one of the Directors at ZAC, The Zinc and Copper Canopy Company. We design and manufacture environmentally-sustainable, artisan zinc and copper door canopies. Our canopies are manufactured by us in our factory in Croydon, Surrey and then shipped out all around the country.
Having nearly reached the end of 2019, I thought I would look back over the last 12 months to share some of our exciting and rewarding challenges.
With the Christmas break over, the team were keen to get back to work to finish the manufacture of a Heritage Belgravia veranda roof. Pictures of this would be later used in our ITV advert as well as in our magazine advertising.
Vinny lovingly built this veranda canopy using natural zinc, using his artisan skills to create a masterpiece. He is a highly skilled tradesperson; and continues to shock me with his dedication to perfection and ethos for hard work. I share a picture of Vinny carefully installing the caps he has manufactured onto the canopy.
As artisans in both zinc and copper, ZAC is often asked to carry out ornamental work in conservation areas. As part of a restoration project in London’s Sloane Square, we were asked to manufacture copper mouldings to replace existing mouldings on dormer windows. The picture shows one of the original mouldings alongside one that we created, which we believe is a perfect match.
The manufacturing process is started firstly by taking precise measurements from the original copper mouldings. Once this is completed, the component parts are cut and folded from sheets of copper using our specialist machines and artisan skills. The component parts are then hand soldered to form the moulding. Although a time-consuming process, I am sure you will agree that the final product is perfect.
We are probably one of the only companies in the UK that can carry out this manufacturing process to such a high standard. We also manufacture door canopies suitable for conservation areas for both existing properties and new developments.
We love to make beautiful iconic canopies, we’re famous for it, but not everyone lives in a stately home or manor house. Having been approached by several clients to create an affordable canopy (still using all our environmental principles), we set our team the task of designing a canopy that could be retailed at less than £400.00. Not easy considering it would still need to last in the region of 100 years and be clad in environmentally friendly VM zinc. The team as usual didn’t let us down and we introduced the new Sarah canopy. The standard Sarah retails at £330.00 plus VAT. We believe this is the cheapest sustainable canopy on the market! The Sarah is ideal for affordable housing projects and state of the art developments.
In addition to the standard Sarah we later launched a Heritage Sarah, this is ideal for historical buildings, cottages, barn conversions and quaint rows of terraced houses.
I am a Leeds United fan; you may find it strange since I was born and raised in Croydon.
This year ZAC proudly sponsored Gaetano Berardi, a Leeds United player. As part of our sponsorship package we were invited to visit the Leeds training ground and ZAC’s company logo appeared in the match day programmes and at the Player of the Year Awards.
Unfortunately, Leeds where unable to gain promotion to the Premier League last season, but fingers crossed for this year.
This month was very busy, not only in the factory manufacturing door canopies, but exhibiting for the first time at the Excel London. With help from our friends at Fine Iron, we constructed a beautiful stand to show off our door canopies at the Grand Designs Show. The show was very successful for us, selling a number of canopies and creating a number of new friends and contacts. I must say it was very hard work for all our staff that manned the stand for the 9-day period. I would like to say a very special thank you to Matt and Pauline and the guys who built, erected and dismantled the stand. We have already booked a much larger stand for May 2020 and will be at stand Q8E from the 2nd to the 10th.
If you would like to visit us next year, please contact us for complimentary tickets. We will have a selection of hand-crafted zinc and copper door canopies on display. As photographs really don’t do justice to the beauty of our canopies, we strongly recommend that you come and see them on our stand.
June was a month in which Vinny made us all very proud again. We entered a beautiful copper dome that he had made into the ‘Roof of the Month’ competition run by the Confederation of Roofing Contractors. It was awarded first place! We don’t only make door canopies, we also manufacture beautiful ornamental zinc and copper work including domes, cornices, dormers and mouldings. I think you would agree the workmanship is exemplary.
All hand-crafted in our factory, our range has all the elegance of bespoke creations at a fraction of the price of site-formed zinc and copper work, making zinc and copper work affordable.
During July, we were asked to build two copper window bay canopies from our Heritage range. The client met us at our stand at the Grand Designs Live show and was inspired by the copper roof that we had installed as part of our display. He was so impressed with the workmanship he said he simply had to have them. He also came to our factory for a cup of tea and a chat and to see some more of our creations in our show room.
Visitors are always welcome to come to our factory; this is a great way of seeing the beauty of natural zinc and copper and our high-quality workmanship, showing off the exemplary skills of our tin smiths.
This was a very exciting month in the factory as filming started for our ITV television advert.
We employed a specialist marketing company to make the advert. Filming began in the factory, showing the manufacturing process and the precision employed to make our canopies. It’s astonishing how much filming it takes to make a few seconds of film. The attention to detail employed by the crew filming was second to none.
I had also approached some of our clients to ask if we could use their canopies and properties as part of our advertising campaign. They all kindly agreed and allowed us to take some wonderful shots, all showing how the canopies had enhanced their homes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients again for allowing us to film, without them it would have been impossible to showcase our canopies.
The canopy in this shot was manufactured with natural zinc and was one of three made for a developer who installed them on to new properties he built in Essex.
We were approached by a building company to manufacture three bespoke Belgravia door canopies. Due to their tight build schedule, we agreed to get them all finished and ready for fitting within 2 weeks. With our own schedule already full, this was a stretch for our guys on the factory floor, but they all accepted the challenge and set to work, burning the midnight oil and getting in early. They forgot their film star status and really cracked on with them. All the canopies were completed on time and to our very high standard. All that was left to do was to get them installed for the houses’ open day that weekend.
Two days prior to installation, however, the heavens opened, and stayed open! On the Friday morning our installers rang and said the site was like the Somme, there was mud everywhere, and it was still raining. Thankfully I received a phone call at 4 o’clock from our tenacious guys confirming, to my amazement, that they were all done.
This month saw a particularly large number of Belgravia door canopies being ordered. We were thankful to have two Companions working with us over from France (as part of their apprenticeship scheme). Such is our reputation that French tradesmen select us under the French Companions scheme to provide an insight into traditional British metal roofing techniques. Our Companions said they enjoyed working with our team on the canopies and were impressed with our factory and the high level of tooling and machining. Despite sometimes struggling to understand our London dialect, they also embraced the opportunity to improve their English.
Our advert campaign started on ITV in the Meridian region. We were very pleased to receive a lot of feedback about its excellent quality and how it showed the build quality and lovely designs. We were also pleased about the increased number of enquiries received from the advert, keeping the design team very busy.
We were also invited to English Heritage for a meeting. They had been impressed with our products and said they would like to move forward with us as part of their partnership scheme. They particularly liked that our canopies were made with natural, environmentally sustainable zinc and copper and that they were made traditionally. We are looking forward to working with them in the new year.
We exhibited at the Homes UK show at the Excel London, this time only a two-day show. We built a new stand to show off more canopies and hasten to say the team made a great job of it. The French Companions added a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the build. We met a lot of great people some of whom went on to visit us in our factory in December. A very different show to Grand Designs Live, as it was much more business orientated.
It’s finally here and everyone is looking forward to a well-earned break. 2019 has been a fantastic year! Looking back, I am proud of all that we have achieved and am really looking forward to all the new challenges we will face in 2020. We have already booked into three exhibitions, all with much larger stands. We’re excited about working with English Heritage and all that this will entail. We will also be introducing some new canopies, especially designed for housing associations and developers. All, of course, very competitively priced compared with plastic.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff for their hard work this year, and for the support of their families whilst they sometimes burnt the midnight oil. I would also like to thank our suppliers and those that have supported us. I would of course also like to thank all our customers – every order is very important to us – without you our company would not exist. It is very gratifying when our customers send us pictures of the installed canopies, along with lovely comments.