Ian Burnett, the General Manager for CONSTRUCT, visited the Max Frank Ltd office and production facilities in Stoke-on-Trent during May 2022. Ian met up with Les Baxendale (UK Sales Manager), Kate Pacey (Marketing Officer) and Adrian Starkey (Production Manager).
Intro: Les Baxendale is UK Sales Manager for Max Frank Ltd – a manufacturer and supplier of construction products, including permanent formwork and ground heave solutions, fibre concrete spacers and reinforcement products to combat punching shear and thermal bridging. Here, Les talks to us about the internal company he has been part of for nearly 7 years, their history and challenges facing the sector.
What is your organisation’s history?
MAX FRANK was founded in 1962 in Lower Bavaria, Germany. Initially a small company, the MAX FRANK Group has developed over the years to become an international supplier to the construction industry.
MAX FRANK have been developing, producing, and distributing a wide range of proven products for concrete and reinforced concrete construction for 60 years.
Originally, the business manufactured and distributed fibre concrete block spacers but over time a myriad of different types of spacers have been developed by the organisation. In addition to the fibre concrete spacers, the product range has developed to include:
- Pecafil®permanent formwork
- Pecavoid® ground heave solution
- Shearail® punching shear reinforcement
- Egcobox® thermal break balcony connectors
- Stremaform®concrete jointing system
A full list of products and their uses can be found at Max Frank Products
What are your unique selling points, what sets you apart from other supply company’s?
Not only do we design and manufacture our products we also provide support from the planning phase through to and beyond the completion and, creating an individual, comprehensive and cost-effective project solutions for our clients.
We have a dedicated technical team who work on the development of new products but also work with clients to produce project solutions.
Additionally, as we are producing the products, we take them through a stringent quality control procedure, in accordance with ISO 9001:2015, to ensure the integrity and consistent quality of the products we produce and supply.
Not only are our products of high quality, we also pride ourselves on speed of delivery and the reliability of our services.
What challenges have been created by the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions and how have you overcome them?
The workforce had different feelings about returning to work once the COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted by government. We worked individually with people to identify their concerns or situations and put actions in place to alleviate them using an adaptable approach.
To reassure the workforce we have maintained a lot of procedures used in the height of the pandemic such as sanitisation, hand washing policy and social distancing where feasible. Additionally, where people can work from home, we have maintained that system generally on a flexible system with some days in the office and some days working from home.
What are the biggest challenges you see for the industry in the months to come?
The price of materials seems to increase every week – especially the price of steel used to produce formwork and reinforcement technologies. When the price of materials goes up, we try to work with our customers and negotiate a staged price rise instead of passing the price hike straight away. Unfortunately, the steel suppliers do not always take the same approach. We also have the additional cost, as experienced nationally, created by the rise in price of fuel, heating, lighting, electricity etc.
What are your organisations main priorities?
Max Frank Ltd has four main priorities which are Health and Safety, Sustainability, Innovations and Customer satisfaction.
We want to look after the health and safety of our workforce and people who use our products making sure there are no long-term health effects associated with our work as well as ensuring their safety while producing and using our products.
Everything reasonably practicably is being done to ensure sustainability with a strategy that sets out targets, tailor made for our organisation, to reduce the impact on the planet and lower our carbon footprint.
Innovations are part of the DNA of Max Frank Ltd and the innovations set by our technical team are carried out to improve health and safety, protect the environment and continually improve the quality and efficiency of our products.
We are focused on customer satisfaction with the products we produce, the innovations we come up with on their behalf as well as the service we provide our clients with – throughout the enquiry, sales & aftersales process.
From a supplier perspective, what benefit have you seen from being part of CONSTRUCT?
We like the fact that we can gain advice and guidance in person from Dave Armsworth and that there is a wealth of information on the CONSTRUCT website related to concrete, formwork and Steel reinforcement. Being able to communicate with other members via the various committees where ideas and best practice, guidance can be shared by people with the same issues and willingness to try and resolve them. We also get news, safety alerts, training development from CONSTRUCT.