Expert for Steel Lintels

Derrick McFarland

Managing Director


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 or visit the Group website at Follow @KeystoneTweets

Keystone Lintels Comment: Q1 2020

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

COVID-19 caused unexpected and widespread disruption. While construction is significantly affected, government recognition of the value of our sector to the economy led to swift action in April with the introduction of new measures and guidelines for safe working. So, from the end of April we’ve seen a gradual reopening of house building sites and merchant branches.

While Q1 2020 is somewhat irrelevant, the quarter was trending in line with pre-COVID expectations. The main concern being the impact surrounding Brexit conclusions.

The challenge now is survival, and what the next eight months’ volumes will be with new social distancing rules. Productivity from building sites, merchants and manufacturers will be restricted as we adopt these stringent procedures to prevent the continuing spread of COVID-19 and avoid another spike.

Steel lintels are essential for most projects, and like many others we operated through the initial lockdown period with a skeleton team. We expanded the team from mid-April and remain open for business, supporting loyal stockists. The safety of our staff, customers and suppliers is our utmost priority and we’ve implemented a new Code of Conduct for returning staff outlining our new welfare requirements and new working requirements regarding the 2-metre rule. This is supported with detailed standard operating procedures for all tasks in our factories, offices and distribution units.

While the Government has its hands full, building enough homes of the right quality, attractiveness and energy efficiency is still a priority. It may be difficult to achieve the same build numbers with social distancing on site, but there is a housing shortage and Britain needs well-insulated energy-efficient homes that look good. The most advanced steel lintels enable builders to save energy using a more cost-effective solution than other products.

I see a different world ahead where technology enables video conferencing to maintain a visual relationship, cutting travel, which benefits the environment, while increasing efficiency and reducing costs. That said, the building industry traditionally thrives on networking so it’s important this continues, albeit in a new format.

On behalf of our sector, I’d like to thank the NHS, health and other key workers who have worked tirelessly through the past weeks and continue to do so. We are indebted to them.

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.