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.
Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
34 | SPEED SCREED
Andy and Nicola Parkin, co-
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
»Founders: Andy and Nicola
»Established in 2006
»Based in Retford,
»Services: Screed pumping and
laying for construction
»No. of employees: 11
»Winner of North
Awards in 2015 and 2017
35SPEED SCREED |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
fabricate, lie and cheat their customers,
and, though it isn’t necessarily
widespread, it is very muchthere.
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.
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
that no other
the same level
that we are, and
that nobody else
in the industry
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 thesector.
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 thefuture.
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.
forward, it has
to be about
A hotel in Lodore Falls,
Keswick, by Thomas
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review
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.