By Tom Sharpe
Having started 3v at the beginning of 2016 without any knowledge of the ironmongery industry or the day-to-day running of an Architectural Ironmongers, I was eager at the prospect of learning something new. Having met the team, I could immediately see that this was a warm and welcoming working environment where both sales and contract teams worked as one entity to both thrive and achieve in maintaining a well-respected status in the ironmongery market. This not only excited me to become part of the team, but motivated me into working hard to achieve the full GAI Diploma.
When starting the course at the end of last year, I was unaware of the complexity involved around ironmongery and all the intricacies that it entails. Stage 1 of the GAI Certification - introduction to hardware, is split into 4 blocks. These blocks are mainly constructed around the technical side of the industry, focusing on individual products and how they operate.
The 1st block introduced me into the countless types of materials used within the industry and the production methods applied in manufacturing each product. This allowed me to understand the purpose of having differing manufacturing techniques and materials, and why products used for the same function vary in how they are produced. Block 1 also touches on the numerous finishes available - from the self-colour of the material itself to electro-plating. This allowed me to see that both the architects and ironmongers choose finishes not only on aesthetic value, but on how they alter the level of protection offered on the final product.
Block 2 moves away from the topic of hardware and starts with the basics of door construction, both timber and steel, including their frames. This module showed me the importance of seals and the numerous reasons for their application, including fire, acoustic and weather. This has helped me appreciate the use for specifying a different range of hardware on each door set, depending on the level of security that the door must provide.
The 3rd and 4th blocks display a more detailed look in to the options of door closing devices and the reasons as to when they may be considered or required (especially where they must comply with legal or construction standards) and familiarises you with the basics of locks and latches. These modules also highlight the fundamentals of scheduling, selecting door types that are drawn from previous stages within the first year of the training. This has given me an awareness of the importance that specifying products has when creating a schedule, to meet the legal requirements of the building and the demands of the architects, contractors and end users. I’ve learnt that through correct specification in the first instance, less time, money and resources are required long-term whilst maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction.
Although covering a variety of areas in the modules, the training provides mostly generic information, and not brand dependant material. Despite this, it has given me a foot in the door into having a basic knowledge of ironmongery and where to apply it within my job role. Utilising both the knowledge I have gathered across this year from the GAI, alongside information I have picked up from independent sources has given me much more of an accurate insight in to the real-life examples I will have to display and apply. Working alongside colleagues who show so much enthusiasm toward their work has kept every day engaging, and allowed my interest toward ironmongery to continue. The experience they all share within the industry has helped me to understand the unanswered questions I continued to have, and allowed me to feel comfortable and confident in my work when consulting with suppliers, contractors and customers.
Overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning on the job this year and the working environment that 3v has to offer, and now look forward to passing both levels 2 and 3 to attain my GAI Diploma.