Expert for Steel Lintels

Derrick McFarland

Managing Director


Derrick McFarland

Derrick has been integral to the success of Keystone Group for almost 25 years. Moving from the company’s base in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, to set up its operation in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, two decades ago, the move was a natural fit and rapid growth quickly followed.

Derrick is passionate about the building trade. His focus is on delivering excellent customer service through good people and great products. Working with an amazing group of colleagues, Derrick ensures clients are welcomed to Swadlincote in a way that has become customary for Keystone Group.

Keystone Lintels

Keystone Lintels Limited is a leading manufacturer of steel lintels, founded in 1989. The short history of Keystone has been one of relentless expansion and continuous innovation whilst redefining the meaning of service in the lintel industry.

Production facilities in Birmingham, Cwmbran, and Cookstown provide an efficient, flexible and ergonomic working environment, which is part of the culture of quality and service at Keystone.

Keystone Lintels offers a comprehensive range of standard and special steel lintels, and recently developed its ground breaking Hi-Therm lintel, to address the thermal requirements of new building regulations.

Hi-Therm is up to five times more thermally efficient than a standard steel cavity wall lintel. Its GRP outer leaf acts as a thermal break, whilst the galvanised steel inner leaf maintains support for the heavier loaded internal leaf.

Hi Therm is a multi-award winning product, winning Best Eco Product at the Build It Awards 2013, Product of the Year at the Housebuilder Awards 2013, and Best Building Fabric at the 2013 and 2014 Housebuilder Product Awards.

Find out more at or visit the Group website at Follow @KeystoneTweets

Expert Comments
Blog Posts

Keystone Comment: Q4 2023

Reflecting on 2023, the headlines for Q1 reads: ‘The first quarter of 2023 is down on the previous year’; Q2’s reads ‘The second quarter of 2023 delivered no excitement and started with a horrendous April before ‘recovering’’; and Q3’s reads ‘The third quarter of 2023 has offered no optimism from the continued slide in volumes’. So it’s safe to say it’s better not to say anything at all for Q4’s headline! In terms of overall volumes one would need to go back nearly a decade to report comparable volumes: 2023 volume is bad history and makes poor reading.

Onward into a re-vitalised 2024, we start with a continuing slide (slides used to be so much fun as a child). Yet that re-vitalisation has resulted in more ‘talk’ of positivity, more ‘talk’ of improvements coming, and more ‘talk’ of the worst is behind us. We have to believe, and yes, more competition in lending will hopefully result in new house purchases and RMI expenditure. As a steel lintel manufacturer though we will have to wait at least six months to see that positivity, from the point when the consumer actually makes the commitment, to it turning into orders for steel lintels.

This does allow our Technical and Specification teams to get to grips with the recent FHS2025 consultation document, and put together our response ahead of the 6th March 2024 deadline. We are liaising closely with the SAP assessors and House Builders on the two options offered, and the overall impact this could have on lintel specification, build costs and consumer running costs. It’s surprising that the consultation document has not upgraded the fabric standards from Part L, which remain that the target fabric energy efficiency rate can be achieved only through fabric energy efficiency. This includes U-values, thermal bridging (eg Hi-therm) and airtightness. The SAP methodology currently used is being replaced by the Home Energy Model (HEM), still under development, which requires a lot of re-modelling to be done across the sector in time for a response on 6th March 2024.