D M Steelworks

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from D M Steelworks is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.


Highlighting best practice
DonMitchell, managing director
You cannot reach the first floor of
Abercrombie & Fitch in Hamburg
without walking with DM Steelworks
DM Steelworks Limited are a steel manufacturing and
architectural metalwork company located on the Braintree
Industrial Estate in Ruislip, Middlesex. They have a proven
successful portfolio of work, and a workforce of 39. Although they
started trading in 1995 as a small fabrication business, they were
incorporated in 2002, and have grown and gone from success
to success since then. Managing director and the company’s
namesake, Don Mitchell, discusses how they have achieved this.
From our humble beginnings, working with just a team of three from a garage in
Harrow, we are now an established company based in Ruislip. We have a certificate
of conformity of factory production control, and a 24,000 square foot factory and
office. We currently employ 39 people, which includes a CAD team, surveyors and
administrators, managed by the hands-on director and operations director. One
of the greatest examples of our work can be seen at the flagship Abercrombie &
Fitch retail store in Hamburg. Here, we assisted in the design of and then produced
and installed a completely bespoke staircase and balustrade. Alongside this, we
have completed a variety of government projects and worked across most market
sectors, including healthcare, leisure, commercial and residential.
A five-year plan and our impact
For the next five years, with our previous accolades in mind, we have set out a plan
focusing on three key areas, which are the foundation upon which future work is
targeted. These are as follows:
»Increasing the turnover and growth of our business
»Managing director:
»Established in 1995
»Based in Ruislip, Middlesex
»Services: Steel manufacture
and architectural metalwork
»No. of employees: 39
»In 2007, Paul Walters was
appointed as operations
director, and he became a
shareholder in 2015
DM Steelworks
»Development and improvement
of our in-house design team’s
»Expanding our customer base while
also maintaining good relationships
with current clients.
To deliver on these three areas, we
operate an “open door policy” with all
DM Steelworks employees, to encourage
healthy debate and communication
on all matters. We have trained and
developed six apprentices, which will
hopefully contribute to our future
improvement, and have concentrated
heavily on maintaining long-standing
beneficial relationships with a number
of clients. This has resulted in repeat
business across the board.
Skill shortage
There is a skill shortage in the
construction industry, particularly in
the midlands and the south, where
so few young people have the
necessary skills as a result of the lack
of appropriate training or education.
This needs to be improved through
the schooling system, and moved
forward into training colleges and
industry apprenticeships. This has
been the situation for several years,
as when companies ceased providing
apprenticeships or training schemes,
the quantity and quality of young
people entering the construction
industry was thus reduced.
High-speed broadband
The recent introduction of high-
speed broadband has been ultimately
sporadic. As an example, the
infrastructure capabilities for such a
service have been installed along the
main road, but our industrial estate
is at the end of a cul-de-sac. The
necessary works to enable access
for both our premises and other
companies on the estate have not
been provided.
This has had a major effect on
our business; large quantities of
information, often receipt of initial
tender data, drawings or production
information, are received or need to
be sent electronically. The available
upload and download speeds restrict
the ability to either receive or transmit
information, which severely impacts
the efficiency of our business.
The decision to leave the European
Union has had a demonstrable effect
on the industry; clients are delaying
or cancelling projects until Brexit and
its effects are clearer. For example,
we were employed to carry out works
on two adjacent buildings, naturally
completing one before another.
The project on the first building was
completed in a timely and efficient
manner; enabling works were then
The spaceship has
landed at the Diplomatic
Academy Teaching
Space at the Foreign
We operate
an “open
door policy”
with all DM
Highlighting best practice
being carried out on the second
building. It was, however, subsequently
cancelled. To date, no further works
have been completed, leaving one
complete building adjacent to another
that we’ve not worked on whatsoever.
From discussion within the industry,
it appears to us a lot of construction
projects are being delayed due to
European uncertainty.
Over the last few years, the industry
has benefited from skilled European
labour, with workers arriving in the
UK and supplementing the country’s
workforce. With the withdrawal from
the EU taking place shortly, the flow
of skilled workers entering the UK has
diminished noticeably, and those in the
UK are returning home. We anticipate
the labour shortage will soon be worse
than before, as a result.
Cash flow and productivity
Regular cash flow is particularly
important for SMEs like ourselves.
Larger companies sometimes impose
payment terms of 45 to 60 days
from date of agreed invoice, which
often takes a while to agree as a
result of stipulated valuation rules
that calculate amounts due. As most
supplier’s terms are 30 days from
invoice, this can result in cash flow
difficulties; payments are sometimes
made to suppliers in advance of
receipt from clients. In addition, some
larger companies still make payments
far later than the agreed payment
terms, thereby stretching cash flow
An associated effect we have seen
when it comes to late payments is the
loss of confidence should additional
investment be required to continue
with the contracted works or further
project work. If payments were made
sooner, this would boost productivity
through an increase in confidence and
trust across the board, all the while
preventing cash flow issues.
Retention also affects cash flow,
particularly where we have little or no
knowledge as to when these are due
to be released, whether they might
be either practical or final completion
of any given project. A considerable
amount of time is spent chasing
retention when we think it may be
due. Our works are generally made
during the early stages of a product,
and as such, we can only estimate
when we believe retentions might be
due. Main contractors do not release
these payments of their own accord.
These retention funds have no
protection, and should a client or
contractor either withhold them
or cease trading, it is somewhere
between difficult and impossible to
claim the money owed.
The future
We do have a lot of issues to contend
with in the modern construction
industry, but we are nonetheless
confident that our inspired five-year
plan will provide us with an apt
foundation for future success. Our
open-door policy, excellent employees
and further investment in the
company’s future through placement
of apprentices will, we feel, lead us to a
further period of recognised prosperity
within a tumultuousindustry.
investment in
the company’s
future through
placement of
will lead us to
a further
period of
Recognition from
the industry
We make sport a
possibility for others


This article was sponsored by D M Steelworks. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.