Adrian Judd is Sales and Operations Director at STEICO UK. Here he shares his thoughts on the future of the industry, explains why education is the key to tackling the housing crisis, and reveals what sets STEICO apart from the competition.
Introduce your company.
STEICO is known across Europe for its environmentally friendly wood fibre insulation and sheathing materials. However, in recent years there has been a large investment programme in wood based structural building products. Subsequently, STEICO Joists have taken a large market share in volume markets, particularly the UK and Nordic countries, but stretching as far afield as Australia. Today STEICO is the largest I Joist manufacturer in Europe, as well as being the leading wood fibre insulation and rigid fibre board producer.
STEICO UK not only sells the STEICO produced range of engineered wood products and insulations, but has added allied products, such as Durelisdek Flooring and the BBA approved Lime Render system by Warmshell, to its portfolio. This enables the customer to specify a complete building solution from one trusted source.
What makes your products/services stand out from the competition?
STEICO not only manufacturers a wide range of engineered wood products and wood fibre insulations and sheathings, we also assist our customers by offering various solutions and applications of our products. Our competitors may offer similar products, but none have the suite of wood based products offered by STEICO, enabling full construction solutions.
To assist our dealers in selling engineered I Joists, we provide an industry leading software which enables them to take working drawings and design a floor or roof which conforms to Building Regulations etc. – producing itemised layout drawings and engineering calculations if required.
With regard to insulations and sheathings, we are able to produce U value calculations which will incorporate ‘condensation risk’ and ‘phase shift’ data too – an important calculation when considering summer heat protection and overheating.
Whilst our products are very much ‘wood’ based, and by their nature environmentally friendly and sustainable, we believe they stand up to alternative everyday products commonly used in the market. The fact they are eco-friendly is really just the icing on the cake for the consumer.
How do you get from idea to product?
Let’s be totally honest here, wood, timber, wood fibre etc. are not exactly new to any of us. According to my Grandfather, ‘tree wood’ has been used in construction for many a year now. So much is known about its properties and how it reacts to certain conditions. STEICO has taken one of the oldest sustainable construction materials known to man and applied modern technologies to it, creating better and more efficient products.
What can the industry do to tackle the housing crisis?
It is quite strange, because as far back as I can remember the UK has been in a Housing Crisis in one form or another. Even in the heyday of 2007, where circa 219,000 houses were completed, it still wasn’t enough. The industry isn’t the issue here and we in manufacturing are not politicians who make the ‘calls’. Some say the Planning Laws are too stringent, others blame the Government for not forcing progress, some say that the Developers are to blame as they can control what is built and at what price properties are sold at. Whatever or wherever the blame lies, the country should be embracing the opportunity that lies ahead. Educate the next generation to be proud to work in the construction industry; it is one of the most fascinating yet under-valued industries out there. If we don’t educate and bring youngsters into the industry then this CRISIS will be talked about for the next generation and beyond. We are in a changing world and the way we build is rapidly changing - get the future generations excited about being part of it.
How do you see the industry evolving over the next decade?
It has been well documented that the UK has a lack of skilled trades required to tackle the required level of housing that the Government has recently indicated. If there is an expectation to increase housing completions in England by one million over the next four years, then we have limited options; one being to import skilled trades from abroad and another being to increase the level of ‘offsite’ manufacture. The words Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and Volumetric Buildings conjure up in many people’s minds as boring unimaginative mass produced boxes or prefabricated slums. This is viewed in the same way as Energy Efficient Houses of ten years ago, whereby an Eco House = Weird looking. This doesn’t have to be the case. Offsite manufacture can offer precision, quality, energy efficient and attractive housing stock. The biggest issue against all this happening will no doubt be greed and down-scaling of the original specification whilst at the same time increasing prices disproportionately.
Who do you hope to meet at UKCW 2017?
We are always pleased to see anybody who takes time out of their day to visit our stand, but would encourage any company involved in offsite or volumetric manufacture, whether it be more traditional methods of timber frame construction or those embarking on the rapidly rising solutions offered by CLT, to come and talk to our staff. You will see many of our products in application; showing solutions to energy efficiencies and overheating.
We also welcome architects and specifiers, wishing to learn more about wood fibre products, their performance and applications, and why they should be the architect’s product of choice.