We called on Sean O’Keeffe, Founder and Managing Director of one of the United Kingdom’s leading manufacturers of ductwork and ventilation products, and proud Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturer.

Established in 1992 and with a staff of 23 and a fleet of 5 lorries, Independent Ductwork Ltd. enjoys a strategically-valuable location in Basingstoke, Hampshire, adjacent to the M3 & M4 motorways. This gives it access to all of central and Southern England with trunk routes to the North.

The company is vastly experienced in the supply of both large and small projects of all types of ductwork systems, and was perfectly positioned to take advantage of Thor Duct ® products a number of years ago.

“It must be seven or eight years ago since we began our licensing relationship with Thor Duct ®, or Safe4, as it was called then,” remembers Sean. “Prior to that, we used to manufacture fire ducting and we’d have to send it off for coating. A couple of companies had this particular corner of the market sewn up, charging per square metre and basically causing us logistical and financial pain. It was expensive to keep having to get our products sent there for coating again and again. Expensive, time consuming, and stressful!”

Enter Thor Duct ®

“We had heard a bit of industry talk about how there was a new system that didn’t require any coating at all. Naturally this was of great interest to us. A quick Google search revealed this system to be Safe4 (the former name of Thor Duct ®”.

“We were intrigued by what we now know is the most highly accredited fire rated system available on the market, so we made a call to the guys to see what they might be able to do for us,” says Sean.

“We reached out to Thor Duct ® and they sent one of their team to make the short trip across the Irish Sea to our factory here in Basingstoke to talk to us about the product and how it could help us gain a competitive edge in the market” explains Sean before going on to cover the next steps in becoming a Thor Duct ® licensee.

“The Chief Technical Officer from Thor Duct ®, Michael Renaghan came over and he took us through the technical aspects of the product. Everyone was very impressed with Michael. He is exceptionally good at explaining the manufacturing side, from the minute details right up to the bigger stuff. We were very keen on the product, but as with all business decisions, there was a leap of faith required”.

Having met with – and been impressed by the Thor Duct ® people – the company was now essentially faced with a single question: could it justify licensing an excellent, reputable product without actual orders on the books? The answer transpired quickly; a huge resounding yes!

“The quality of the Thor Duct ® product pretty much guarantees orders. As a matter of fact, we picked up a fire-rating order almost immediately, an order we would not have been considered for before, one that that immediately justified the decision to go with Thor Duct ®, in terms of the time and money investment” says Sean.

This order was a ductwork project at a military barracks dating back to the 1970’s – known as the Gibraltar Barracks – at Minley, Hampshire. “A very interesting and satisfying job to start with!” enthuses Sean.

The benefits of the licensing arrangement have crystallised over the years as Independent’s relationship with Thor Duct ® goes from strength to strength. One of the main reasons for this is the increasing proliferation of fire duct work being carried out especially in the UK and mainland Europe.

“The Grenfell tragedy has raised awareness of safety standards and the focus on has never been higher” notes Sean. “More and more fire ducting is being used, requiring us to be nimble, flexible and responsive to the needs of our existing and new customers. The Thor Duct ® products have played a huge part in all this. It gives our customers peace of mind knowing that the Thor Duct ® systems have been comprehensively tested and adhere to the strictest procedures in terms of manufacture, installation, and inspection”.

“It goes without saying that the prevention of fire spreading through ducted systems is and always has been of critical importance” asserts Sean. “With this very much in mind, the Thor Duct ® fire-rated ductwork has been designed to cater for all the safety requirements faced by the building industry today.”

For Sean and his team of skilled manufacturers, the Thor Duct ® products licensed to Independent Ductwork represented “really, a complete system, all tested by independent accredited laboratories under UKAS, with all fixing and supports installed and featuring penetration seals for platter and concrete floors and walls, as well as insulated access doors and silencers.”

In relation to the support the company enjoys from Thor Duct ®, Sean is pleased and impressed. “There’s always the odd technical enquiry from clients, it’s an evolving market and everyone is learning. The guys at Thor Duct ® are always there to help us out. They provide information quickly, allowing us to get back to our clients in black and white with same-day information and responses. It’s this kind of service that wins us repeat customers” explains Sean.

Indeed, with work on the northern extension of the London Underground among their recent projects, and some £500K in ductwork carried out this year alone, the marriage of Independent Ductwork’s technical expertise, decades of experience, and a high-quality product in Thor Duct ®, looks set to continue for many years to come.

If you are sick of outsourcing the high margin part of the job to others, maybe it’s time to consider becoming a licensee of Thor Duct ® just like Independent Ductwork and many others, have done.

Contact Thor Duct ® to learn how your firm can grow by offering the ultimate in fire safety duct work.

How to License Thor Duct ®

Offer your customers the very best in fully compliant fire ductwork solutions.