How Clarksons used innovation to be at the cutting edge of TV technology
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 September 2015
Clarksons of Cheshire, in Alderley Edge, have developed a very clever way to hide your TV inside your wardrobe, writes Kate Houghton
Clarksons of Cheshire is a relatively new business, launched in Alderley Edge in autumn last year. However, it is the offspring of a much longer established family concern, CS Glaziers, based just over the border in North Wales and founded in 1967.
I love a tale of entrepreneurial success, so I asked Dave McFarlane, store manager and a research and development devotee, to tell me how they came from there to here.
Dave is possibly the best company spokesman any business could hope to have – and that’s not even his job. He is overflowing with enthusiasm for the product and provides all the information and inspiration you could need with the perfect balance of technical knowledge, practical application and creative thinking.
It seems that unlike many family businesses, that can find themselves overwhelmed by changing times, CS Glaziers were innovative from the start and used research and development, imagination and a healthy dollop of ‘what would happen if’ thinking to continually seek new markets and uses for the glass they worked with.
As a glass processor, the company takes the raw material and treats it in many and varied ways to produce whatever format of glass their customers desire – from safety to stained to decorative lead and so much more.
Current MD, Neil Clarkson, always makes a point of investigating solutions to any challenges or queries his customers threw at him. He realised in recent years that he was being asked more and more about mirror TVs and TVs that could be set behind glass panels. It was a product that existed, but not to any great degree of quality.
He investigated the marketplace and discovered that nobody else in Europe was offering a premium quality product that not only delivered the space saving or aesthetic facility that people wanted but that also delivered the high quality viewing that they expected. Talk about red rags to bulls: form and function in one beautiful package.
Two years of R&D followed, until they managed to develop a bonding agent that glued a flat screen television, securely and without any bleeding of light, to glass – mirrored or plain. But this wasn’t enough for Neil and his team. The next challenge was to deal with the wires (and there can be many) that not only power said TV, but link it to the plethora of other media most households now contain, from Sky boxes to PCs to Apple and more. An intensely clever solution was created, that not only lifts away and neatly hides the wiring, but rolls without stick, hitch or bump as the wardrobe door slides open or closed.
‘Once the TV is bonded and the various wires are where they should be, we can then wire the speakers to anywhere in the room, or set up Bluetooth,’ says Dave. ‘And then you have a multimedia device exactly where you want it, delivering the best possible image.
‘We can retro-fit a TV our customer already owns, or has seen and wants (there is only one brand that offers a totally flat screen so Clarksons have developed a way to bond screens with bevelled edges too) or we can supply custom-made screens.’
While explaining this, Dave gives me a whistle-stop tour of the showroom, where examples of what can be achieved make it so much easier for the technologically challenged homeowner, like me, to understand what can be done.
‘Sometimes, I just have to say to clients “trust me, I can give you exactly what you want even if you can’t really tell me what that is!” I can just see how things will work and how we can custom-build it for them. We love a challenge at Clarksons, the R&D team rise to it every time.’
While the most usual request Clarksons of Cheshire receive is for TVs set behind wardrobe doors (they can design and fit the entire wardrobe too, an increasingly popular choice with customers who appreciate the range of over 200 colours of glass or wardrobe frames) or mirrors, they also fit TVs into bathrooms, swimming pools and anywhere else you can think of.’
My attention was caught by an image of wardrobe doors with the complex and astonishing Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt on them.
Dave says: ‘We were asked to produce some wardrobe doors for the owners of a boutique hotel in Wales. They wanted a tricolour flag effect, but we thought that was a bit unimaginative, so asked them what else inspired them. They love this painting, so we worked with Canon and they developed an ink for us that we’re very happy with and use to print directly onto glass, so we could reproduce it quite faithfully. There’s no scratching or flaking and the colour and definition are amazing.’
It’s only fair the final words go to the man behind the company, Neil Clarkson himself.
‘We have a clear ethos here at Clarksons, one that has helped bring CS Glaziers from 1967 to now. It’s all about knowing your product and your customer and pushing always to lead the way in new product development; one example being our use of gold and silver leaf in glass splashbacks.
‘Our sons are currently working their way around the business, learning it inside out. We only use our own employed fitters, or specialists we’ve a long-standing relationship with and whose work ethic matches our own.
‘Whether it’s wardrobe TVs, triple glazing units or aluminium bi-folding doors, we do everything with precision, the highest level of quality and the ultimate in customer service.
‘We have imagination and we just love playing with glass.’ w
Clarksons of Cheshire 48a London Road, Alderly Edge
SK9 7DZ | 01625 585 613 | www.clarksonsofcheshire.co.uk