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New Appointment In Scotland

by APS in News Comments: 0

We are pleased to announce that this month Jacqui Shepherd has joined APS to develop our business within the Scottish market.  Jacqui is based in Scotland & was previously employed at Veka.  Her wealth of knowledge of the industry and her diligent, hard-working approach means she will be a great addition to our team.  Here she is with APS Director Chris duBoulay.  We wish Jacqui every success in her new role.

APS Mo-vember 2022 Charity Month

As we entered December we finished off a month of fundraising with a company coffee morning.  At the start of November five of our warehouse staff Giles, Ben, Jason, Colin and George hatched a plan to grow moustaches as is the norm in Mo-vember and along with Jonny our sales office manager started a push to raise funds for the local suicide & self harm prevention centre Emerge Counselling Services.  At the same time some of our sales office team took on a challenge to walk for Mo-vember and the group covered over 600 kilometres.

APS management agreed to match any funds raised and so most importantly the total figure raised was £1730!  The guys presented a cheque for £1500 direct to Emerge and £230 has also been donated to the Mo-vember charity.  Well done to the Warehouse staff who need to be commended for initiating the whole thing and thanks very much to everyone who donated so generously.  Hope you enjoy some of the photos.

20 Years In and Still Going Strong

by APS in News Comments: 0 tags: aluminium, news

Gary McNeill, APS

Aluminium & Plastics Systems (APS) is celebrating 20 years in business and during those two decades we’ve survived a global recession and are now meeting the uncertainties of Brexit head on.

 CEO Gary McNeill is one of the founding directors and we sat down with Gary to go over some of the highlights and biggest challenges.


Clearly, the focus for the last 12 months has been adapting to the unprecedented change in customer needs. What that’s meant is providing a product range unlike anything we’ve offered in the past.

“Since the pandemic hit, we’ve sold a lot more home improvement products like aluminium lift and slide doors, decking, PVC showers and flooring; many of which we haven’t sold before,” he said.

Listening to our customers

It’s this kind of adaptability in the market that has allowed APS to navigate its way through a challenging couple of decades in the construction industry.

The key has been keeping up with the latest trends in the industry,” McNeill said.

“New products or new colours become popular at any given time and it’s a matter of recognising those, keeping on top of them and working closely with (or sometimes finding new) suppliers to make sure we have what our customers want.”


Not only is the business pivoting as a result of the pandemic, but Brexit has also brought about further need for change. We’re viewing the changing political landscape as an opportunity to grow.

“We’re currently recruiting senior logistics staff to help us break further into the UK market with our aluminium systems range. With Brexit now too, we need to be more switched on with what we’re doing.

“We have products that are developed for the Irish market and we’ll need to adapt to the different trends in the UK market. That might mean making some tweaks to our existing offering, which is likely to be the focus over the next few years.

“With the planned new staff, we’re trying to improve our efficiency and delivery. That will allow us to focus on UK sales, which is when we’ll kick into gear with further product research and development.”


It’s the process of research and development and the desire to constantly move with the times that has allowed us to stay afloat during such turbulent times.

From day one we’ve stocked a fairly basic range of products and, while a lot of our suppliers do their own research and development of their products, we’ve also done our own and it’s that development as a business that has allowed us to do bigger and bigger projects over the years.”

The beginning

McNeill admits that few of the founding staff could have predicted just how many economic, political and health challenges they would have to endure along the way. However, as events transpired in 2001, they felt the time was right to start something new.

 “Fifteen of us worked for Reynolds Metal Company* which was taken over by global aluminium giant Alcoa – currently the world’s eighth largest producer of aluminium.  During that merger we all thought there were too many aluminium companies in Ireland, and some would surely have to close. So jumped ship before we were pushed.”

“We’d all been working together for 10 years at that time and we had a good customer base. We were a very small company compared to Alcoa and we didn’t think that they would want our existing business or even value it because we were tiny in comparison.

“We felt we had a good business, and it was a good fit for Northern Ireland but that it wasn’t a good fit for a multi-national.”

Our first 12 months in business was to prove a telling sign of things to come.

When we opened APS, Alcoa tried to compete against us for 12 months, which meant trading against some of our old colleagues who used to work with us. They then decided to close the business down after a year and we then got all of their customers.

“Within 12 months, we were doing the same turnover as when we were part of Reynolds and within three years, we were doing substantially more than we ever did in the 10 years previously.


“Then, along came the recession in 2007-08 and being in the building industry obviously hit us hard for two or three years.

“In that time, like everyone in the construction industry, we struggled. Slowly, we have emerged out of that and we’re now at sales levels well above those pre-recession. The business is running as well as it has ever done – that is before COVID came along of course.”

We’d grown to 45 staff leading into the Global Financial Crisis and it would eventually take a serious toll on the business.

“After it hit, we shrank back down to about 30 staff. We were basically in survival mode for two or three years just to find a way to get through.

“We were carrying a lot of stock and we had a lot of business across Ireland that was badly affected by it. We had a lot of bad debt at that stage, so it was a matter of building back up from there.”

Looking ahead

The many lessons learned throughout our journey has the business in a stable position and the view through the window into future is bright.

“While COVID has certainly hampered our progress, our outlook is pretty positive. Not being able to go and visit some new customers has made things difficult but hopefully after June that changes and COVID will largely be behind us.”

* Reynolds Metals Company, which was the second-largest aluminium company in the United States, and the third-largest in the world. Reynolds Metals was acquired by Alcoa in June 2000.

Statement Regarding Covid-19

We are facing unprecedented times and as such we are only able to make plans for a few days at a time.  As the situation evolves regarding the spread of COVID-19 and we receive government advice we are reacting and adapting accordingly.  So with this in mind we wish to clarify our immediate plans.

We are currently following government advice on hygiene for companies that remain in operation.  Employees have been informed of the importance of social distancing and increasing hygiene practices and enhanced cleaning within our offices.  We trust that any customers and visitors to our offices, trade counter and warehouses, will adhere to this, making use of the numerous hand sanitisers available upon entry.  All staff are aware of the importance of self-isolating for the recommended time periods if they display symptoms associated with COVID-19 or have been in contact with anyone who also shows symptoms.

In regard to our business, at this point in time we intend to remain fully operational.  Collections and deliveries of orders placed between now and Friday 27th March (the date of our year end stock take) will continue.  We intend to close for the full Easter week, commencing 13th April until 17th April inclusive.  Our supply chain is mostly UK based and, so far, factories remain open but, obviously this can change on a daily basis and we will keep you updated on this.

We trust you appreciate our plans are made with the best intentions for our staff, company and customer base going forward.

New Addition to APS Architectural Team

A very warm welcome to Philip Osbourne (right) who is our new Technical Sales Manager. He is pictured here with Architectural Sales Director Alan Denver. Philip will work alongside the rest of the Architectural team to strengthen APS’ all-Ireland sales. We wish Philip all the very best and hope he enjoys his new role with us!

Great Turn Out For APS Product Launch Coffee Morning

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to call at the APS product launch/coffee morning on Friday 28th February to hear all about our latest product developments.  It was a very informal morning when everyone was invited to call for a chat and some refreshments.  We hope that you found the time well spent and informative. Whether you are the architect specifying our systems, the fabricator, the builder, or indeed one of our suppliers, it was great to see you and the event was a great success.

Loyal Employee Wilson Retires

At the end of January 2020 we all got together to mark the retirement of Wilson Adams who had been employed at APS for over 15 years in the architectural accessories warehouse where he was rather an expert. We will miss him around the company and his many stories but know that he will call in to see us. The company directors presented him with a motorbike as a parting gift which left him speechless for the first time! We wish Wilson many happy years of retirement while making the most of his new found freedom with his new wheels on the highways and byways of Northern Ireland.

APS sponsor UUJ end of year Architecture award

APS continues to sponsor architectural students in conjunction with Ulster University. Pictured at the recent Architectural Technology End of Year Show 2019 is our Contracts Manager Kenny Faulkner presenting the “APS Award for Design Creativity 2018/2019” to Catriona Slane with a £200 cheque. We wish Catriona and all the class of 2019 the very best in their new careers.

APS sponsor match kits for Ridgeway Rovers 05 team

Aluminium & Plastics Systems (APS) Ltd is pleased to sponsor the new 2019/20 match kit for Ridgeway Rovers 05 National League team. The boys wore this on their recent trip to Fleetwood Town FC organised by coaches Stephen and Mark Thomas. Pictured are APS gary mcneill presenting the kit to players Matthew and Casey, and with the team. We wish the lads all the best for the new season. They certainly look the part!

APS sponsor UU event for architectural students

APS mantra ‘from concept to design’ is just one reason why we are proud to continue to sponsor events for up-and-coming architects in conjunction with Ulster University. Just before Christmas 2018 an event took place at the Mac Belfast where final Year Architectural Technology and Management students presented major project designs they are working on to guests and lecturers. The day included an inspirational talk from Richland Group CEO Gary McCausland. The students are a highly competent group and we wish them well as they approach the final stages of their course.