Rapid Aluminium and Rapidor Barriers:
The Unrivalled Combination
Rapid Aluminium and sister company – Rapidor Barriers are adding value to Zambia’s construction industry in their quest to provide lasting architectural aluminium and security solutions for homeowners, architects, businesses and property developers in the country.
Backed by international ISO standards and unmatched guarantees, both companies are a true definition of a 0ne-stop shop for premier architectural aluminium and security barriers as they provide complete solutions, from bespoke design and in-house manufacturing to supervised installation and after-sales services.
Rapid Aluminium has a long and rich history in the Zambian construction industry, having been formed in 1996 the company has grown to be Zambia’s leader in fenestration (the arrangement, proportioning, and design of windows and doors in a building).
When the opportunity to buy the Trellidor™ franchise for Zambia presented itself in 2015 the company’s directors, Viktor Vidmar, Andrew Sowden and Christine Sowden knew that the added value of including security barriers in their product portfolio was too good to miss. However, it also presented a challenge. Both Viktor and Andrew are perfectionists and extremely hands-on when it comes to the running of their business. The taking on of the franchise would leave the brothers-in-law with little time to continue building Rapid Aluminium during an important time of growth. The solution to this quandary was to turn to family.
Viktor’s brother Antun and his brother-in-law Angus Nicoll were looking for opportunities in business and the four family members saw the ideal scenario in setting up a new company, whose core business would be security barriers. A deal was done and in late 2015 Rapidor Barriers came into existence, offering very innovative Trellidor™ and Roll-up Serranda™ products that are at the top in terms of security barriers in Africa.
Through this symbiotic relationship, the sister companies are able to offer clients both exceptional glass and aluminium windows and doors that accentuate the beauty of their house, office or shop, as well as peace of mind gained through the installation of A-Grade security barriers or roller shutters to safeguard lives and property.
The benefits of the relationship also mean that both companies are able to work hand-in-hand during the installation phase of a project. ‘By working together, we are able to install both windows and barriers in the correct position and allocate both products the required space on the window reveal. This simple action means that the client might not have to pay extra for a face-mounted (on the wall face rather than on the window reveal) installation of their security barrier’, explains Mr Vidmar before Mr Nicoll adds, ‘It also means that we may be able to colour match the window aluminium and security barrier steel’.
Both companies are headquartered in Roma, Lusaka. In actual fact, their factories are about 500m apart, but offer their services throughout Zambia. They often share resources such as transport when undertaking projects away from their bases. Again, this arrangement ultimately benefits the client as the cost-saving gained by sending one vehicle rather than two is passed onto the client.
It should be noted that Rapid Aluminium and Rapidor both procure their materials from South Africa while finished products are fabricated in Zambia. Directors of both companies believe this is an important point of distinction between them and their competition. ‘There are numerous benefits in having suppliers close to home’, says Andrew Sowden before rattling off a list of some of those benefits.
‘We are able to work closely with our suppliers on R&D, thereby directly helping improve our products. We can get materials into the country quickly for special orders so clients don’t have to wait for months on end. We are able to offer guarantees and warranties on our products and our installations because we get regular training directly from the manufacturers on the correct way to fabricate and install.’
Ultimately these benefits are for the customer, and it should be noted that both companies enjoy a significant amount of repeat business from a very loyal customer base.
When questioned about why so many customers keep coming back the explanation offered by Antun Vidmar is simple, ‘We place the customer at the centre of everything we do. When someone walks into our offices, we don’t have a prepared sales pitch for them. We have a consultation where we discuss what they would like to achieve. Our recommendation is based on their responses. We show them actual sites where we have worked previously and encourage them to speak with previous customers to hear what their experience was like. In short, we build relationships, we don’t merely transact.’
Those relationships and the guarantees mentioned previously mean that in the event that something does go wrong or needs assessment, customers can count on a Rapid response to put things right. Rapid Aluminium and Rapidor Barriers both have excellent aftersales service.
In the case of Rapidor Barriers their aftersales service is a vital component of the franchise agreement with Trellidor™. This is because after an incident it is paramount that the house occupants or business owners feel safe again. To this end, Rapidor deploys their assessment and repair teams within 24 hours of being notified and do all that is possible to repair the affected barrier.
Over the years Rapid Aluminium has managed to build and cultivate a niche position as the go-to choice for fenestration works in shopping malls, having worked on and completed shopfronts and skylights at Arcades, Manda Hill (original), East Park Mall (all 6 phases), Novare Great North, Novare Pinnacle, Waterfalls, Munali Mall and Golf Mall (Lubumbashi). Rapid Aluminium’s dedicated Maintenance Team provide care and maintenance to these malls to ensure that all the shopfronts remain to look attractive and functional. The team have a dedicated vehicle kitted out with a large inventory of locks, handles, cylinders… everything that might need replacing on a shopfront.
When asked about the future all four directors break into broad smiles. Viktor Vidmar offers the first response, ‘We are optimistic, we are excited. We recently installed some windows for a customer, who was one of our first in 1996, a couple of months after the company opened, that is 25 years ago. The windows are still working and the gentleman is now looking to pass on the property to his son. I think that is a great example of how we see our businesses. We make windows and barriers like we are making them for ourselves. In fact, no, we make windows and barriers like we are making them for our children. Everyone else just nods enthusiastically, he has said it all.