Exel Construction

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Exel Construction's best practice article

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 Exel Construction is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


David Thoroughgood,
Flats in Crawley,
West Sussex
Based in Raynes Park in southwest London, Exel Construction
is a company specialising in construction with off-site
manufactured buildings – increasing speed without
sacrificing quality, keeping waste to a minimum, meaning less
overall cost and greater benefits for their clients. As part of client
satisfaction, they maintain a careful balance between three vitally
important criteria: time, quality and cost. It’s a balance because it’s
almost impossible to have all three – for instance, you can have a
project completed quickly and to a high quality, but not cheaply.
However, Exel strive to deliver all three and provide their clients
with excellent value for money; indeed, this transparency,
honesty and realism is one of the reasons Exel has built up
close relationships with their clients resulting in a high level of
repeat business. Here to describe this all in greater detail is their
managing director, David Thoroughgood.
Our niche
Exel occupies a fairly unique position in the market, in that our job size – in the
order of between £2 million and £10 million – is too big for the small builders and
too small for the national contractors. Despite this, it’s where we perform best.
For the last ten years, we’ve been using off-site manufactured systems, often
structurally designed and prefabricated in Austria and shipped over for assembly.
This has many advantages, particularly fewer variations during the construction
period on site. There’s now a degree of standardisation to projects, but the main
»Managing director:
»Established in 1993
»Based in Raynes Park,
southwest London
»Services: Construction
»No. of employees: 18
»Turnover: £12 million
»Exel Construction was
founded six months after
the JohnLelliott Group went
into receivership, which is
where the name came from –
»First £1million contract:
October 2004
»Celebrating its 25th year in
Exel Construction
Highlighting best practice
key is completing the detailed design
upfront working closely with our own
architects. This is a prerequisite for
off-site manufactured buildings which
I believe makes this modern method of
construction so successful.
What’s really important for us to
consider are three benchmarks by
which our performance is measured:
time, quality and cost. With a good
understanding of our clients’ needs
and working closely with them we
can achieve their objectives. It’s our
job to communicate as honestly as
we can to our clients what is and
isn’t possible given the constraints.
Thiskind of rapport is not possible
with competitive tendering, which
generally means a race to the bottom
where the client gets a short-term gain
but invariably has problems later on.
If clients need to go the competitive
tendering route for any reason I would
suggest that the second lowest is
awarded theproject.
Our values
We have always been a client-focused
company but I also want everyone
working within the company to feel at
home, which is why I do my utmost to
promote a family-like environment. In a
more philosophical sense, the hope is to
establish the team as the fundamental
unit in construction, not the individual.
In practice this means that each
member of the team would do things
for one another without being asked;
all would be looking out for each
other. I’m sure this helps us achieve
our project goals more easily and also
makes for a happy place towork.
But it’s not just in this metaphorical
sense that my company has a family-
like quality. My wife and son work for
the company, the latter of whom is
working his way up through the ranks.
Office and flats in Oxford
Flats in Raynes Park,
London SW20
With a good
of our clients’
needs and
closely with
them we can
achieve their
Until recently my brother also worked
for the company – he initially came for
two years and stayed ten! But I prefer
to think of all our staff as family and
that is one of the reasons why I have
never wanted to grow too big.
I also want our staff to feel involved,
and by holding annual appraisals it
gives every opportunity for staff to
suggest improvements to the company
and discuss their own personal
development and training needs. I
appreciate this is far from unique, but
it has worked very well for us, and has
contributed to our success.
Our organisational structure for each
project also forms part of our values.
We have a director in charge with a
manager/surveyor and site manager
running the project as a team. This
structure reduces the communication
chain and works particularly well on
our size of projects. The site manager
is at the sharp end and is responsible
for getting the project built safely,
to a good quality and on time. The
manager/surveyor takes overall
responsibility and provides all the
necessary support while dealing with
the financial aspects of the project.
Surmounting obstacles
Although we’ve never borrowed money
from the bank and have no bad debts,
payment terms within the industry need
a massive shake-up. Payment terms
have not changed in decades, but
improvements in the administration of
contracts and technology allow for much
faster payments. We have a number
of clients who are happy to accept
fortnightly valuations and fortnightly
payments which we in turn pass on to
our subcontractors. At the same time
we “ring-fence” payments on each
contract. All in all this leads to a much-
smoother-running business, which can
only benefit the client and help prevent
unwanted failures that occur when a
company like Carillion go bust.
An obstacle that the industry faces
next year is the prospect of the UK
being denied labour from Europe after
leaving the European Union. This is
already having an impact with many
eastern Europeans leaving the UK to
either go back home or go to other
European countries. Construction
companies depend to a large extent
on labour from this part of the world,
and we need a post-Brexit deal which
would allow for their entry.
Planning delays have been an obstacle
for years. It’s clear that local authorities
do not have the time and resources
at their disposal to get through all
the applications in the prescribed
time. In addition to burdening the
already difficult housing situation,
this bottleneck is a problem for all
stakeholders, including us, and could
be resolved with a root and branch
overhaul by central government.
Our plans for the future are to replicate
the sort of successes we’ve had in
the past. This means, for us, keeping
the company at a size that we can
still control, not growing beyond our
means and ensuring stable platforms
to pave the way for future growth. By
ensuring this, we should be able to
retain our existing clients and add one
or two more.
Our plans for
the future are
to replicate
the sort of
we’ve had in
the past
Student accommodation
and flats in Oxford


This article was sponsored by Exel Construction. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister