It’s been a busy year for Extech, the UK’s largest building materials company.
We’ve already seen new products in the form of polyprophene and viscose plastics, and we’re also seeing the arrival of polycarbonate for the first time in the US.
It’s a much faster-moving industry than its predecessors, and Extech has more than doubled its global workforce.
But its future is still in question.
Extech’s chief executive, James Waugh, said that the company needed to take some time to consider what the UK market looked like, but he also admitted that the technology was “very new” and “still quite young”.
“It is the world’s fastest-growing building material, but there are a lot of things we have to learn about that and a lot more work is still needed to be done,” he said.
Excess demand Extech was looking to the future.
In 2018, it sold the building materials business to German engineering giant Bosch for £10.5bn.
Now the company’s global head of product and innovation, Nick Hutton, is looking at what he sees as opportunities for its future.
“The business of building materials is quite a niche,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“We have a lot to learn from the German industry, and there’s a lot that we can learn from them.”
He added that the new German-built Extech could make “huge progress” in the area of “high quality and quality value for money”.
“We’re looking to build a product that is at the very heart of what Bosch is doing,” he added.
“So that’s something that we’ll be able to work with them on.”
He said the company had plans to “continue to grow our portfolio”.
“As we grow, we want to make sure that we’re investing in the best possible technology and materials that can deliver the highest possible return on investment,” he explained.
“That means that we want those materials to be produced in the most environmentally-friendly way possible.”
Extech already has a factory in the United States, but Hutton says he hopes to bring manufacturing to Britain.
“It will be something that’s going to benefit both our UK customers and the European customers,” he concluded.
UK plans The UK’s building materials industry is the largest in the world, with over 30,000 companies in total.
The country has seen the arrival in recent years of new high-tech manufacturing, with the introduction of 3D printing technology and the construction of a new aluminium and ceramics factory.
But there’s still much to learn in the sector, with Hutton admitting that the British government is not yet ready to fully embrace new technologies.
“They’re still not ready to embrace all of the new technologies that are coming out of the European Union and the Asian economies, which are very high-end manufacturing,” he noted.
“This is something that will take some longer to change.”