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: Q2 2020

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

Looking at Q2 2020 in isolation, the steep sales growth curve is what start-up businesses dream of. However, back to reality, demand for steel lintels in Q2 was in the range of 40% down on the previous year. Taking May and June together we see a slightly more positive position with the reduction halved. The trends are moving in the correct direction, and each month the market is improving. The small to medium enterprise (SME) market is posting a strong performance compared to the volume house building sector, which has been slower to return and has implemented strict social distancing rules.

The availability of lintel stocks and simplicity of service has been critical for merchants responding to customer demands, while working in an unusual work environment over the quarter. Manufacturers with a ‘can do’ attitude are vital in this supply chain partnership. At Keystone, we see specification and service as the two key focal points in delivering performance for our merchant customers.

New enquiries are running 20% behind the same period last year, linked to some companies being shut down for a substantial period of time and sites taking longer to finish. The net result is that those enquiry levels are an indication of future volumes. Merchants and manufacturers need to work together closely (yet two metres apart) to maximise each enquiry. As I mentioned in previous comments, embracing changing technology in communications to maintain the benefits of networking is vital.

The government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ agenda, bodes well for the future, but will it be enough when the furlough scheme comes to an end? Accessibility of finance and availability of mortgage deals will also be key.

The market is still focused on the delivery of revised Part L and the new Future Homes Standard, with carbon reduction targeted by at least 20%. This puts the fabric of the building and lintels, specifically thermally performing lintels with certification and a proven record, as one of the critical elements in the overall solution.

Keep safe and well.

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.