Expert for Steel Lintels

Derrick McFarland

Managing Director

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Derrick McFarland

Derrick has been integral to the success of Keystone Group for almost 25 years. Moving from the company’s base in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, to set up its operation in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, two decades ago, the move was a natural fit and rapid growth quickly followed.

Derrick is passionate about the building trade. His focus is on delivering excellent customer service through good people and great products. Working with an amazing group of colleagues, Derrick ensures clients are welcomed to Swadlincote in a way that has become customary for Keystone Group.

Keystone Lintels

Keystone Lintels Limited is a leading manufacturer of steel lintels, founded in 1989. The short history of Keystone has been one of relentless expansion and continuous innovation whilst redefining the meaning of service in the lintel industry.

Production facilities in Birmingham, Cwmbran, and Cookstown provide an efficient, flexible and ergonomic working environment, which is part of the culture of quality and service at Keystone.

Keystone Lintels offers a comprehensive range of standard and special steel lintels, and recently developed its ground breaking Hi-Therm lintel, to address the thermal requirements of new building regulations.

Hi-Therm is up to five times more thermally efficient than a standard steel cavity wall lintel. Its GRP outer leaf acts as a thermal break, whilst the galvanised steel inner leaf maintains support for the heavier loaded internal leaf.

Hi Therm is a multi-award winning product, winning Best Eco Product at the Build It Awards 2013, Product of the Year at the Housebuilder Awards 2013, and Best Building Fabric at the 2013 and 2014 Housebuilder Product Awards.

Find out more at www.keystonelintels.com or visit the Group website at www.keystonelintels.com. Follow @KeystoneTweets

Keystone Lintels comment: Q4 2018

Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels is BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels.

I am delighted to report that steel lintel demand in the fourth quarter of 2018 continued in the strong vein of the previous two quarters. While not showing the same intense demand of the previous six months, Q4 delivered like for like growth 6%, higher than the same period in 2017. Previous years might have seen the whole year set back by the disappointing first quarter, caused by the ‘Beast from the East’. But 2018 sales recovered quickly from this weather-affected period and, better still, the sector delivered reasonably strong performance for the full year. So strong, it was like the pre-2008 times were back!

Demand for both social and private housing are positive. The NHBC continues to report growth in new home registrations, increasing by 7% for the rolling quarter of September to November, with a mix of 6% in the private sector and 10% in the affordable sector. Interest rates are still historically low, wages are increasing moderately, so what could affect a promising construction sector in 2019 and beyond?

Oh yes, Brexit! Predictions for the next three months, or longer, may as well be written in invisible ink for all the light we can throw on it, so what should we be doing as an industry?

One of the key questions we’re being asked is what our plans are. As an independent manufacturer, Keystone decided to minimise disruption to our valued customers by holding a minimum of six months’ stock of steel in raw material and finished goods in the UK. This may turn out to be a crazy action, or a well thought out plan, but the message is: we are prepared. I should clarify, this material is earmarked for loyal stockists, based on the peak period of 2018. We hope all other product suppliers have plans in place which will similarly keep house building on track.

The housebuilders’ immediate and ongoing challenge continues to be sourcing skilled labour. This invites further scrutiny of off-site options, which both merchants and manufacturers need to be aware of. At Keystone, we are seeing builders develop a growing number of off-site houses and other components, including garages. This is both a risk and an opportunity and may affect the traditional supply chain route.

Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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