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

Expert Comments
Blog Posts

Keystone Lintels Comment: Q3 2021

Demand for steel lintels has remained strong, but as a result of escalating material and labour costs, we saw the price shoot up at the beginning of Q3. This would normally result in high volumes sold, however, for the first time I know of in my career, we had to put steel lintels on allocation to help manage the restricted supply of raw material. Allocations were calculated based on the average purchased in the six months from 2019, and by branch.

Despite these restrictions, we have so far been able to deliver 2.5% more tonnes of steel lintels in 2021 compared to 2019, so supplies are still getting through. It is fair to say that orders did not always arrive fully shipped and on time, however our teams behind the scenes have been working tirelessly to satisfy customer demands as best they can in the current conditions.

That said, we are part of a global supply chain and there are still serious challenges. The new barrier to normality is the pending energy crisis, with some factories in China reportedly working two days on and two days off to share the country’s energy resources. It is inevitable this will affect the global steel market, particularly in terms of availability and future pricing.

The NHBC is reporting completions in Q3 2021 compared to 2020 are down 5% (1692 units), reflecting the combination of last year’s post-lockdown recovery compared to the material challenges of 2021. On a more positive note, NHBC reports that 36% of new homes registered are detached, which is up from 28% on the same period last year, while apartments registered in Q3 2021 fell from 29% to 13%. With detached houses on the increase, coupled with new building regulations, demand for high thermal performing lintels is also set to rise.

Looking ahead, we believe the industry will see a reduction in raw material shortages and supplies becoming more stable in Q4, which will in turn slowly improve overall service levels for steel lintel customers.