Speed Screed

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Speed Screed'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 Speed Screed 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, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
34 | SPEED SCREED
Andy and Nicola Parkin, co-
founders
Housing development in
Faldingworth by Cyden Homes
Screed is a pumped levelling layer, often sand or cement,
that comes between the structural substrate and the floor
covering when any building is constructed. When Andy Parkin
was employed as a screed manager by a multinational materials
supplier, he started simply providing the pump hire. When he
discovered a lack of availability and his supplier pulled out, he
began to take on more and more, and in 2006, he founded Speed
Screed. From their base in Retford, Nottinghamshire, they employ
11 members of staff, operate up and down the country, and
work alongside trusted contractors to consistently provide the
best levelling layer for any kind of structural construction.
The screed we provide generally goes in beneath tiles, flooring or carpets. Our
work is roughly 40 per cent domestic and 60 per cent commercial – we can work
on anything from flats and houses to schools or hospitals. We lay any given type
of screed that the client will require, but the current market is saturated with
cement-based compounds, which make up about 85 per cent of what’s on offer.
The remaining 15 per cent is a calcium sulphate-based flowing screed product –
something we can also provide.
Respect and high standards
We like to treat clients as we want to be treated – it really is fundamental to our
service. If we say we’re going to do something, or deliver along a certain timeframe,
we do it. Ensuring these basic things should be second nature for companies like ours,
but, unfortunately, it quite often isn’t. I have previously seen others in our industry
FACTS ABOUT
SPEED SCREED
»Founders: Andy and Nicola
Parkin
»Established in 2006
»Based in Retford,
Nottinghamshire
»Services: Screed pumping and
laying for construction
»No. of employees: 11
»Winner of North
Nottinghamshire Business
Awards in 2015 and 2017
Speed Screed
35SPEED SCREED |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
fabricate, lie and cheat their customers,
and, though it isn’t necessarily
widespread, it is very muchthere.
We try to inform everyone we work
for and work with about our attitude
towards standards. It’s a battle – we
fight day in, day out to ensure that
people recognise and work to them.
People often say “that’s fine” or “it’ll
do”, but for us, it’s about far more than
that. We are accredited to ISO 9001
and ISO 14001 alongside, importantly,
BS 8204, the British standard for our
industry. If we surpass them, excellent,
but they really indicate the absolute
minimum we should be delivering on
every project. I’m confident that no other
screeding company is accredited to the
same level that we are, and that nobody
else in the industry operates like we do.
From humble beginnings
From the very start in 2006, we grew
year on year all the way through to
2015, where we turned over £1.6
million. Our market is undoubtedly a
small and niche one, and finding the
right people, the right contractors and
the right training is a tough balance. The
industry offers no formal training for
what we do – the closest thing you can
get is a two-day NVQ in plastering, so,
really, the best education is experience.
There’s a distinct shortage, so we have
to be incredibly careful with the people
we either employ or work with.
Using a slightly different array of
contractors and working alongside
new partners has allowed us to take
on more work, and start getting back
to where we were a few years ago.
With a recent period of reinvestment,
we are confident we’ll stay sustainable
and keep growing organically.
Staying relevant
Repeat business has always helped
with growth – we like to keep in touch
with clients, and get as many formal
reviews as possible on the appropriate
platforms. We do, however, want to
be more than that; we want people
to view Speed Screed as more than a
service provider, and to start educating
people about an industry that’s
relatively unknown. With 20 years’
experience in this incredibly specialised
business, I think I’m one of the most
knowledgeable people around, and
as a result, I have started compiling a
series of educational videos.
These serve not only to answer a
broad swathe of some of the most
common questions we receive on the
job, but also to identify any of the
more specific issues with screed and
the industry as a whole. We have set
a target of just under 500 videos,
and hope this will allow people to
Our head office in Retford
I’m confident
that no other
screeding
company is
accredited to
the same level
that we are, and
that nobody else
in the industry
operates like
wedo
Portsmouth office
project
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
36 | SPEED SCREED
recognise us as experts. It’s a mutually
beneficial process – it will hopefully
bring in more custom for the business
while educating both clients and
contractors. Knowledgeable customers
are better customers – with a more
in-depth understanding comes fewer
delays and disputes, leading to a better
overall customer experience. The entire
initiative will hopefully serve to raise
the bar all across thesector.
A number of challenges
We haven’t seen much of an impact
from Brexit just yet, because we do
already have a lot of projects in motion.
The one thing we do anticipate,
however, is a lack of available partners
– there’s a greater availability for
screeding contractors with open access
to the EU, and we might suffer with
recruitment in thefuture.
There are financial challenges which
plague the construction industry as
a whole that we too suffer from.
Overdue payments are a big one, but
we consider contractual retention
to be something of a weekly battle,
and the recent government review
is welcome. Removing the practice
would be helpful to all businesses,
as the administrative time involved in
managing and recovering retention
payments can cause suppliers to
experience a drain on working capital
and inflated unmanageable debt.
These can then end up compounded
by issues such as overdraft fees and
limited access to finance as a result.
An educated future
To ensure future growth, we want to
educate. We’re looking to train people
ourselves, on the job, and though it
would be great to have a supporting
structure locally, perhaps a college,
we presently have to be entirely self-
sufficient in that regard. We believe
that education could really drive and
expedite success, but, for now, we’ll
have to wait and see.
No matter what, going forward, it has
to be about maintaining the standards
we’ve become known for and doing
all the right things. It’s not about
mirroring our competitors or other
firms in the sector; it’s about doing
what’s good for the industry and good
for our customers. I don’t know if the
way we operate will change things –
but I know we want to try.
No matter
what, going
forward, it has
to be about
maintaining
the standards
we’ve become
known for
A hotel in Lodore Falls,
Keswick, by Thomas
Armstrong

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from the prime minister.

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

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

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