Kisiel Group’s view of the collapse of Carillion

Sustainability in the construction industry has taken a bit of a knock with the news that Carillion has gone into receivership.

Although not entirely unexpected, it is important that the government does not prop up a failing business that is no longer viable. To do this would indicate that mis-management can be rewarded.

The government are offering advice to employees and suppliers of Carillion to try to reassure them following the winding up order and the appointment of the Official Receiver. It will be a big shock to the approximate 20,000 employees in the UK and it must be remembered that this impacts not just on the employee but also their families. I also have huge empathy, as Managing Director of an SME construction company, with the impact on a large number of construction sub-contractors facing uncertainty about work contracts and if they will be paid for the work already undertaken. It is likely that some of them will also end up in receivership. So, the impact will be far reaching.

This highlights the issue that sub-contractors will also be owed money in retentions, even though they have finished on the contracts providing skilled services and this is already under consideration by government with their consultation deadline of 19/1/18.

Annie Summun, my General Manager, attended a meeting only last week at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), to discuss the very relevant issues around payment frameworks, withholding of retention payments and a review of the adjudication process. It appears that many large companies withhold retainers unfairly from their sub-contractors, impacting on the cashflow for the smaller companies, either as they do not have the funds available and wish to delay the cost of borrowing or if they have the funds they are using the money to bolster their balance sheet.

Speaking to one of the Master Builders, Kevin McLoughlin, who attended the meeting at BEIS, he advised that the collapse of Carillion had impacts for his company who had been working with them on 3 contracts: staff are temporarily taken off work, he is likely to lose money that is owed to him and he has also lost his forward order book.

Another participant, Terry Wilkinson, said that he accepts that there is a need of ‘larger’ companies to manage the large infrastructure projects but the contract needs to be split up into smaller main contractor units. There is a need for change and surely it is time for the government to have a re-think.

So, should we not now be looking to SME companies to be taken more seriously in the procurement process for construction projects. SME companies are varied: some are specialist, some are more generalist, of differing sizes and offering different skill sets, whilst some are involved in infrastructure projects in the public sector, others are building new housing or undertaking renovations for private clients. Talking to a local councillor from Tooting recently at our stand at London Build, he said that SMEs are more adaptable than large companies and ‘quality’ is a key aspect of their work. So, we have a wealth of skills to be tapped.

As the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) have stated, ‘The Government must learn from Carillions’s demise and assess its over-reliance on major contractors.’ Brian Berry, Chief Executive of FMB, helped to promote SMEs by saying that ‘The Government needs to open up public sector construction contracts to small and micro firms by breaking larger contracts down into smaller lots. That way, it can spread its risk while also reaping the benefits that come from procuring a greater proportion of its work from a broad range of small companies’.

SMEs are the future of the construction industry and I would urge you to support us at every opportunity you get to create a sustainable future.

Choosing The Right Natural Paint

Sustainable building products have seen remarkable improvements in the last decade. Historically, these products have prioritised safety over quality, in an effort to appeal to the environmentally-conscious market.

Thanks to recent developments in technology, green companies have improved the quality of their products to rival those used traditionally. This has been true for natural paints. While the demand for sustainable paints has not yet reached the mainstream levels, its popularity has seen tremendous growth over the last decade.

Why Are Traditional Paints Harmful?

Traditional paints contain a high level of VOC’s or volatile organic compounds. These carcinogenic chemicals have been linked to a host of environmental problems like indoor and outdoor air pollution. Further, those working around active VOC’s have an increased risk of cancer.

Proper disposal of paint is an additional source of concern. The EPA averages that 10% of all paint purchased is unused. The excess can either be processed at a hazardous waste facility, costing nearly €7 euros for every 5 liters disposed. The paint that is irresponsibly discarded can contaminate more than 250,000 gallons of drinking water underground.

Making the Switch

Companies looking to make the switch from traditional paint to a natural choice should decide which type of eco-friendly paint is best for their project. Low level VOC paints are available from most commercial companies. In recent years, these products have become very popular. While reduced VOC’s offer a great improvement, it’s important to check the formula list. Consumers should inquire about the ingredients, especially if the can is lacking a label.

For those looking for a completely natural choice, VOC-free paint is an excellent solution. Natural paints are:

  • 100% VOC free
  • Biodegradable
  • Made with minimally processed ingredients

Companies like, Nutshell Paints produce and sell paint that is chemical free and odourless. By relying on natural ingredients like clay, milk, and marble, the company offers a wide range of colors tinted by natural pigments.

Natural paint offers an effective solution for companies looking to decrease the amount of harmful chemicals used during their projects. Employees and clients will benefit from the decreased levels of air pollution and carcinogenic substances. Lukasz Kisiel of Kisiel Ltd continues to research new technology, like natural paint.

“I’m motivated by technology that is sustainable and practical,” Lukasz states. Kisiel Group continues to find purpose in green development. “It’s critical to our environment. And it is what a client deserves.”