Wednesday 7th July, 2004
Andrew Thomson hadn't even finished his industrial design course at the Royal College of Art when James Dyson asked him to come and be one of three designers in a new company he was setting up.
Before he knew it he'd helped refine the DCO1 - the first vacuum cleaner launched by Dyson - and designed the DCO2, the first Dyson cylinder cleaner.
Andrew, a 36-year-old father of three, said: " It was an incredibly exciting time. Within two years the DCO2 was the number one seller in the country and won just about every award in the world. But it was, as you'd expect, incredibly demanding and as the company rapidly grew I lost contact with the manufacturing process, especially when it moved to Malaysia. It was then that I felt it was time to move on".
Andrew's father had been an architect and he'd always loved architectural industrial design. So when Ultraframe, the leading designer and manufacturer of conservatory roofing systems approached him, he felt it was the ideal opportunity. He and his family moved to the Ribble valley.
Andrew, Design and Development Director for Ultraframe, said "I see it as a fantastic opportunity. Ultraframe is a very innovative company but the conservatory market is very underdeveloped with regards to design. I intend to do something very different, very creative.
"There is an awful lot of competition and the pressure is on Ultraframe because other, cheaper products can, on the surface appear similar despite being inferior. We have to maintain our quality and our product differentiation".
Andrew directs a twenty strong design team. Ultraframe also use Conservaglass, a revolutionary new glass, which retains heat in the winter and keeps the sun out in summer. This will allow Andrew to create for all climates and for all year round use – it means there are no limits to his conservatory creativity.
"Dyson was a wonderful experience in the beginning," says Andrew "but it lost a bit of excitement for me when we were no longer able to pop onto the shop floor and modify designs immediately"
Andrew also found it frustrating when he began work on the new Dyson range of washing machines which proved hard to market.
"They are incredibly good designs but design costs and in something as basic as a washing machine it is often hard to justify the added cost in relation to value for the average customer."
Enjoying his new life in the North Andrew is determined to make his mark on the Conservatory market. He says " There are huge amounts of innovative designs in the architectural world that are not yet available in the domestic market. I am looking forward to questioning all the current norms, working with Ultraframe to maintain their strength in the market through fantastic quality, design and innovation”.