Topglass is a specialist glass and glazing contractor operating across the UK and Ireland from its base in Northern Ireland. The company was established in 1992, having evolved from the earlier Topglass Designs which was formed in 1984.
From its roots in decorative glass Topglass has gradually undergone a considerable expansion in line with the requirements of its customers and the wider industry. Today Topglass has an ever growing product portfolio including frameless glazing, curtain walling, structural glass, manual and automatic glass doors, glass lift shafts and the specialist Profilit™ glazing system.
“At the core of everything we do is our aim to deliver solutions,” says Conleth McConville, Director. “This has been our driving force in response to customer needs. We have a signficant in-house skills base allowing us to be very ‘hands on’ from the outset with design services and specification advice. We provide a broad range of quality products which, through innovative design and engineering, we have the ability to take beyond standard applications.”
A testament to this approach is the company’s recent shortlisting in the AJ Specification Awards for its Tropical Ravine Project. Technical Sales Manager, Gerard Kelly, explains the design behind the glass façade they have been recognised for. “The challenge was to provide a very minimalist, frameless aesthetic while allowing for the anticipated levels of structural movement and applied loads. We were able to achieve this with our bolt fixed system supported by a series of frameless glass fins. These support fins span from ground level to the steel structure at the building eaves, providing a stability and robustness across the expanse of the elevation. The flexibility we were able to deliver with this bespoke installation allows for the roof of the building to deflect up and down; without causing damage to the glass itself or compromising the system’s integrity.
“We are delighted with the recognition we have received for this project, which showcases our capabilities in bespoke engineered glazing. It’s an honour to have been recognised in such a strong and competitive category.”
In 2017 Topglass notably increased the reach of one of its other key product lines, the Pilkington Profilit™ system, following the loss of the product’s former sole supplier to the UK market. Topglass had been supplying the product in Ireland for almost 20 years so was perfectly placed to fulfil the need in the UK Market. Commercial Technical Manager for Profilit™, Paul Saxton, joined the company at this significant time.
“There was an immediate demand in the industry following the loss of the company who had previously held a supply licence with Pilkington. This licence had given them exclusive rights to the product within the UK.
“The Profilit™ system is a specialist U-profiled glass which requires a particular knowledge base to ensure safe specification and installation. We were already trading within the UK and Europe with our other extensive product offerings so extending our remit to include the Profilit™ system in these regions made perfect sense both to us and our customers. With full backing from the manufacturer Pilkington we have since delivered a host of exciting projects including the recently completed Holiday Inn and Staybridge Suites Hotel at London Heathrow.”
Topglass’ success and growth potential was recognised by the McConville family, MJM Group who acquired the company in early 2018. Topglass had been a longstanding supplier to other companies owned by the McConville family including MJM Marine and Mivan.
Since the acquisition Topglass has increased its workforce by 20% and is currently working on exciting innovations for both the marine and land-based markets with details of a new high performing glass system soon to be released.
“Over recent years we have witnessed an uptake in the quantity of glass being included in building designs,” says Gerard Kelly. “Spans are becoming larger with both our frameless and curtain walling systems seeing an increase in specification. We can, in part, attribute this to architects, designers and specifiers recognising the health and wellbeing benefits of daylighting within our built environments along with its ability to reduce energy usage. As our nation becomes increasingly health conscience, attentions have naturally turned to the effect our working and living environments have on our overall wellbeing. Natural daylighting is linked to increased levels of positivity and concentration. Access to natural daylight throughout the day has also been seen to help regulate our circadian rhythms improving sleep quality and general health.
“With this increase in overall usage comes the need for advancements in performance which Topglass has been ideally placed to respond to. Knowing our material properties is crucial and through ongoing research and development we are able to challenge the perceived use and place of glass and glazing, resulting in very unique applications.”
Amongst these is the Pearse Lyons Distillery project in Dublin, for which Topglass was commissioned to create a bespoke, frameless glass spire. The spire totals fourteen metres in height and weighs approximately ten tonne. It is the result of precision engineering, complex manufacturing and an innovatively, designed assembly.
Topglass’ ambition for the future continues to grow with no plans of slowing down despite the current difficult and uncertain political landscape.
Conleth McConville, Director, explains: “We want to continue our expansion plans in Northern Ireland and across the UK but like every business we have to be prudent about the uncertainty of Brexit. We are of course, doing everything necessary to maintain and ensure regular service by planning for every eventuality.
“We believe communication is key, both within our own working relationships and on a wider scale. We have cultivated an extremely strong business and supply chain network across the globe and continue to build on this. We have worked hard as a group of businesses to put across our business concerns in light of Brexit and continue our calls for clarity and certainty. We are confident therefore that we are doing all we can to ensure our concerns for our industry are being heard and that we are well protected going forward to continue to grow in the UK and Ireland marketplace.”