An Interview with Tiejun Xia, founder of Nordic Windows and Doors

Interview with Founder

An Interview with Tiejun Xia, founder of Nordic Windows and Doors

1. Hi, tell us about yourself.

I was born in China. I got my Bachelor of Architecture degree in Beijing. I came to Australia in 1996 to do a Master of Architecture degree at the University of Queensland. Instead, I ended up with a Master of Business Administration in 2004 from UQ. I was working for an architectural firm specializing in aquariums projects in Brisbane. I have also worked at Lab Architecture Studio, Denton Corker Marshall, and DP Toscano architects on different types of projects in Melbourne.

So, I am a registered architect in Victoria with many years of architectural experience.

2. What made you to enter the window business?

I have an architectural back ground. I have done a MBA degree. I am also fluent in both English and Chinese. I am an accredited translator. That gives me some advantage to run an import business of building products. The main reason, is that I felt that the windows and doors in Australia are of low standard and overpriced. I believe I could do better.

I saw some local window businesses and they had first class showrooms, second class services, and third class windows and doors products. Customers forked out a fortune to buy windows and doors that have been superseded in other countries long time ago. After doing my market research, I decided to bring the European thermally broken windows and doors to Australia in 2010.

3. What are thermally broken windows and doors? Why they are better?

Aluminium is good conductor of heat. By adding a thermal break into the aluminium frame, it solves the heat/cold transfer issue with aluminium window and door frames. They are categorically better than non-thermally broken, also called thermally improved windows and doors. Thermally broken windows and doors have become the industry standard in countries like Germany and China.

4. What types of windows and doors products you recommend to your customers?

We recommend the European style tilt and turn windows, as well as the lift and slide sliding doors. Both of them are high end European products. All our windows are double glazed or triple glazed.

The tilt and turn windows can have two opening positions, in either tilt or turn. That gives people a much better ventilation solutions than most commonly used awning windows. Ventilation is an extremely important function of windows. We could also have security flyscreens fitted to these windows, which could also protect children from falling through the windows.

The lift and slide sliding doors allow very large door panels to be designed by architects. The clever hardware allow them to slide very smoothly and have a better seal and airtightness.

5. Sounds like they are high quality products! But I am not sure I will be able to afford them.

All our windows and doors are fabricated in China by a licenced Aluk fabricator. Aluk is a leading European window and door system provider. Such business model ensures we have a lower cost base for high quality European windows and doors products. In the end, it our customers who will benefit.

6. Your windows and doors are made in China. What are your quality control measures?

First, all our windows and doors are fabricated by a licenced Aluk fabricator in China. Aluk is the industry benchmark of quality European thermally broken windows and doors. So we have set the bar very high in the beginning;

Secondly, we only use hardwares from leading European hardware suppliers, such as Roto and G-U. So we give our customers 10 years warranty on their hardwares, while local Australian industry standard is only one year.

Thirdly, the thermally broken technology, the design of window and door system, the surface treatment process, how the mitre joints are made. We have paid attentions to many areas to ensure our windows and doors are of the highest standard. You will find detailed information on our website.

Another example that we want to set the benchmark and do better is, in Australia, safety glass is only used for a certain selected areas, such as bathroom windows, but not for bedroom windows. There are potential injury risks if the glass is broken and fall into sharp pieces. We don’t like that. We will only use safety glass for our windows and doors to ensure the risks to our customers are minimized.

7. That is very kind of you! By the way, what types of projects have you done so far?

In the last eight years, we have done many different types of projects. It has been a steep learning curve for us.

We have done retrofit projects, to replace exisiting timber or aluminium windows with our thermally broken double glazed windows. We have done new build projects, to supply and install new windows and doors for new houses. We have completed projects in Adelaide, and on Kangaroo Island. We have completed projects for owner builders. We have completed projects of windows and doors with timber look aluminium finish. We have also completed bushfire BAL rated projects up to BAL 40. We recently completed a high end architect designed house. We are also doing projects in Tasmania.

8. What are your major advantages over your competitors?

The manufacturing industry in Australia have two biggest issues: 1. Lack of economy of scale, 2. High labour cost. This applies to the window industry as well. Thermally broken windows and doors are complex and high performance products that have a long supply chain: extrusion, surface treatment, thermal break, and fabrication, as well as glass. Our business model takes advantage of the economy of scale and low labour cost overseas.

9. Looking back, what are your reflections on what you are doing?

 In the last eight years, I have worked very hard, learned tremendously, and sometimes from the mistakes I made. I have been visiting aluminium extrusion factories, glass factories in China and Australia, been to many industry exhibitions, building shows. I have been to constructions sites and worked as a tradie to install windows and doors.

I am passionate about windows. I enjoy what I am doing. I have some of the best windows and doors on the market with very competitive cost base. Therefore I am very positive about the future. Having the project completed to a high standard, and having positive feedbacks from customers also give me a sense of achievement. My design background in architecture also gives me an advantage that I understand the requirements of architects. I think I am on a career path to become one of the most knowledgeable architects in the Australian window industry.

10. Thank you. Good luck for yourself and your business.

Thank you.