11 February 2021
Currently celebrating its tenth anniversary year, Knowsley-based Formwork Direct International has established itself as a specialist hirer and seller of concrete formwork and related products and is now developing its own ranges and solutions. It serves customers throughout Europe and as far afield as the USA and Africa.
The business was founded by chief executive officer Carl Kidman who had previously worked for A-Plant’s (now Sunbelt Rentals) formwork division and for the scaffolding business George Roberts (NW).
“Since the initial lockdown, we’ve followed all the guidelines to stay safe and continue supplying hirers and construction customers,” says Carl. “We have also pressed on with R&D ideas.”
The company hires and sells formwork and falsework systems, edge protection and heavy-duty propping, as well as bespoke panel cleaning services.
Customers include main contractors, formwork contractors, ground workers, concrete frame specialists, pre-cast companies, scaffolders, demolition firms, civils contractors and tool hirers.
Over the past year, Formwork Direct International has also made several senior appointments. John Owens joined as operations director and has ten years’ industry experience. Paul Burns was appointed as UK sales manager while Paul Raybone is technical director, both having worked previously for 26 years and 14 years respectively with Leada Acrow/A-Plant.
In 2011 the business acquired the formwork division of Vp and purchased the Combisafe edge protection system from George Roberts (NW). Stephen Dempsey, also formerly with A-Plant, joined the business as director/co-owner in 2012.
A variety of other products were then introduced, like the Aluflex slab support system, Alulight 100kN heavy-duty aluminium props, FDP 30kN Euro Props, Formflex slab support systems, Fast Deck soffit supports, FD Max heavy-duty panels and the Easiform Frami system.
Also, a two-year development project resulted in a method to automate and standardise panel system maintenance, using a bespoke cleaning machine developed by a German manufacturer.
“A 14% uplift in construction is forecast for 2021, with housing construction development, HS2 and other projects,” says Paul Burns. “We now have the ability to focus on developing our product pipeline and adding to the customer experience.
“We can offer the full range of temporary works product for hire and sale, and the fact that we can provide our own products differentiates us. We have an in-house design service and we also stock leading brands so we can support customers with their particular preferences, in the UK and worldwide.”
Formwork Direct International now occupies a three-acre site close to the M57 motorway and just ten minutes from the M6.
Carl Kidman says that the business has plans for further growth. “We are rolling out a new lightweight wall formwork panel system to be brought to market via the new brand, Formsafe Systems. This department is going to act as our sales arm, focusing on the growth of our international exports.
“Other systems developments include: aluminium props taking up to 180kN, the development of a lighter weight but higher rated wall formwork panel system and the further development of the Formwork Direct galvanised propping range.”
John Owens (pictured below right, with Paul Burns) adds that “future plans are to get further into digital technology to allow in-depth analysis and greater understanding of our products online. The Formsafe System brand will be further developed online, plus the repair and service of clients’ own equipment will be a big push for 2021.
“If all goes to plan, we may open a depot outside of our Merseyside basin location, which will show the business continuing to move forward into a second successful decade.”