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: Q3 2023

The third quarter of 2023 has offered no optimism from the continued slide in volumes from the same time last year. As reported earlier in the year, 2022 was certainly a game of two halves with the second half average around 20% lower than the first half. Mostly this was due to a stock re-balancing in line with demand. However, 2023 reaped the impact of the previous changes in policy combined with the massive spike in inflation. This has resulted in volumes dropping another 10% or so.

We can only be hopeful that with the recent freeze on interest rates and inflation reducing, at some point in the future new house building and home improvements will once again stimulate or arrest the current volume slide. However, the next few months will only get more challenging before that improvement starts to ooze through.

Within the product range the Hi-therm lintel ranges are increasing in the overall mix as Part L builds slowly come through. Although many footings put in to beat the cut-off date have yet to be sold, we estimate what should have been a November date will now be more like February/March 2024 when the full transition is implemented in terms of lintels..

Sustainability is important to everyone at Keystone. We are committed to reducing emission in our own operations by 60% by 2030 in line with the Climate Change Conical ambition. We are committed to protecting our skilled workforce even through these low volumes times, so we have a sustained labour force to deliver on our commitments.

We have a board member for sustainability, but we also recruited ‘superheroes’ for each of our businesses. It’s the passion they bring to the subject matter which drives it into the culture of the business. You’ve got somebody there channelling it at all times.

As an industry, we should also spend time going around universities and schools to promote our industry, and tie in with university and apprenticeships schemes. If they can see some of the products we contribute to housebuilding, they’re going to be impressed and maybe they’ll want to be involved.

And of course, we’re committed to working with our loyal customers to continue to develop longer stronger sustainable partnerships.