Q & A with James Sutherland, MD at Dortech


Dortech Architectural Systems has worked with TECHNAL for more than two decades on a wide range of projects. Here, Dortech's Managing Director, James Sutherland explains what has made this such a long-lasting partnership.

Tell us a bit about Dortech

As a dedicated commercial glazing contractor, we specialise in the design, manufacture and installation of aluminium curtain walling, windows, entrance doors and roof lights. In the last 27 years, we have worked alongside some of the UK's leading developers and contractors on projects of every type. 

When and how did your association with TECHNAL begin?

Dortech and TECHNAL worked together for the first time approximately 26 years ago, shortly after Dortech itself was established. Since then, we have collaborated on some phenomenal projects across just about every sector including schools, colleges and universities, commercial buildings and leisure centres. In fact, we estimate that we have completed around 50 leisure centres in that time together. 

What makes TECHNAL stand out as a company you consistently want to work with?

One of the key reasons the relationship has continued over so many projects is the fit between our businesses. TECHNAL's positive, forward-thinking approach to the challenges and opportunities of a project matches with how we work. We have always operated very collaboratively, and after so many years we see TECHNAL as an extension of our business with multi-layered connections between our companies. 

The cyclical nature of the industry means that there has been both good and challenging times for us. TECHNAL has always been helpful and supportive. 

When it comes to the design, manufacture and installation of systems, why is it important to have a relationship with an aluminium systems provider?

The work we do is not straightforward and few people in the industry will understand how technically demanding the glass and glazing packages are. There is a huge amount of engineering and technical expertise involved in successfully going from an architect's plan to completion, through the design, manufacturing and finally, installation of the glazing systems. There are a wide variety of issues that can arise where corners are cut to save money. As a business, we believe it is more important to be able to do the job right than win contacts purely on price. This is the sort of company we are and TECHNAL has and always will support us in taking this approach.  

Can you describe the benefits arising from the relationship for Dortech and TECHNAL?

The main benefits we gain from working together are quality and consistency. This comes from the level of seamless collaboration we are able to achieve. We develop designs together and TECHNAL will often attend meetings alongside our team and come to site to carry out their own assessments. Our team is deeply familiar with the systems but this joint approach on the more complex packages can help us identify potential issues and resolve them at the earliest stages. 

What has been your most challenging project to date, and how did your collaboration overcome these challenges?

One that really stands out is the Materials Innovation Factory at the University of Liverpool. The 11,600m2, multi-million-pound building provides a home for the state-of-the-art research centre where the university’s experts can work alongside industry leaders to deliver solutions to real world challenges.

The complex project included over 3,000m2 of glazing and a 350m2 glazed rooflight that consists of more than 100 TECHNAL GEODE MX 52 glazing units. There were a number of complex interactions between different sections, which required detailed planning and design of all elements to ensure the facade would perform as intended. TECHNAL’s support in this was very valuable and played a real part in the overall success of the project.

What’s been the best project you’ve worked on with TECHNAL?

I would say it is probably one of our most recent projects - the new Merseyside Police headquarters. The 12,800m2, four-storey building on an eight-acre site will provide a modern office space for up to 1,175 people. Glass features heavily in the design with 4,500m2 of architectural glazing, including curtain walling, windows and entrance doors. Shortly after we were appointed, we began working closely with TECHNAL on the design. The completed building will be a landmark in that area of the city and deliver efficiencies that will help the Merseyside Police save approximately £250,000 a year in building running costs. 

How do you foresee your work with TECHNAL developing in the future?

After so many years, the relationship between our businesses is solid and I hope will continue for years to come. As with any long-term partnership, I believe our work will evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of the industry. For example, we are very interested in the sustainable products that TECHNAL is developing, such as those manufactured from recycled aluminium such as Hydro CIRCAL®  75R. We are looking forward to seeing more sustainable options used on projects of all types.