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 Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy