The Break Fast Show #486

In today’s show: Topcon targets the compact equipment market with a dedicated machine control solution; Volvo pushes the envelope of electrification; Shearcore brings the cutting power; and Bomag puts its stamp on millions of miles of road.

PLUS can we talk about Ultra Low Emission Zones.

Don’t forget. You can now leave us a voicemail message to be featured on the show. So, if you have a comment, criticism, suggestion or question, just go to and record a message of up to 90 seconds and you too could be part of The Break Fast Show.

The Break Fast Show #485

In today’s show: We are unleashing The Beast; we’re heading back to the Las Vegas Convention Center to catch up with Kinshofer; and we’re enjoying a Spa day with Wirtgen.

PLUS – This is how maintenance vehicles SHOULD look.

And if you catch this morning’s show LIVE, you could win an exclusive scale model from Allu.

Don’t forget. You can now leave us a voicemail message to be featured on the show. So, if you have a comment, criticism, suggestion or question, just click here and record a message of up to 90 seconds and you too could be part of The Break Fast Show.

Lynch takes over NFDC hot seat

John Lynch has been sworn in as the new president of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors.

Lynch’s appointment was confirmed at the NFDC AGM that was held in London on Friday last week. He is pictured (right) with newly-elected NFDC 2nd vice president Simon Barlow of Rye Group.

The NFDC AGM also marked the beginning of the transition of power from incumbent Federation CEO Howard Button to his replacement Duncan Rudall who is expected to take up the role in June of this year.

I have made no secret of my admiration for John Lynch and his ambition to bring the NFDC kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. (You can check out my previous interview with him here). The Federation must also have considerable faith in Lynch as it allowed him to leap-frog the current vide president to take up the role two years early.

However, Lynch faces a tough challenge. News of the extent of the fines handed down to NFDC members caught in the “demolition cartel” investigation broke just as he received the chains of office. He also takes over the hot seat at a time when the UK demolition industry is under enormous threat and constant scrutiny from environmental lobbyists who believe that demolition should be effectively outlawed to protect the embodied carbon contained within the nation’s building stock.

That is for another day. For now, the National Federation of Demolition Contractors has a new figurehead with a proven track record of selflessness.

DemolitionNews wishes John Lynch and Simon Barlow every success in their new roles.

This is My Church

Our recent trip to the ConExpo exhibition in Las Vegas was not work and it was not a vacation. It was a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage that we shared with thousands of our fellow worshippers of capital equipment.

This exclusive film was inspired by God is a DJ by Faithless.

The Break Fast Show #484

In today’s show: Komatsu goes large; New Holland goes electric; We’re in a spin with Steelwrist, and we are looking ahead to the SaMoTer exhibition

PLUS we have the world premiere of our new film: This is My Church.

CMA – Word is spreading

Any hopes that news of the near £60 million fines handed down to 10 UK demolition companies entangled in a bid-rigging cartel might just “blow over” have been dashed as word has spread across the media here in the UK and much further afield.

DemolitionNews has compiled a list of more than 30 publications that have covered the scandal so far and that figure is set to rise over the coming days and weeks.

You can see all those publications and the direct links to their respective coverage here.

And don’t forget. DemolitionNews has produced a dedicated podcast series – The CMA Files – which has charted the investigation from the very outset. You can see all episodes here.

The Break Fast Show #483

In today’s show: What Manitou did next; both Bell and Caterpillar are pursuing their telematics dream; and we have some big announcements for you including today’s exclusive prize giveaway in conjunction with our friends at Gryb International.

PLUS we have a double-dose of John Deere dozers for your delectation.

Join us LIVE for the Break Fast Show – the only daily live news show for the demolition and construction industry; and stick around for the after-show chat: The Craic.

This story is far from over

It ultimately took just over three years for the Competition and Markets Authority to make an infringement decision. Three years of wading through the sewage that lies just beneath the surface of the UK demolition industry. Three years of examining the soft underbelly of a sector that has fought long and hard for respectability but which now finds its reputation tainted.

During that time, the CMA conducted unannounced inspections of 15 business premises, interviewed 35 people, served over 120 notices requiring the provision of information or documents, and undertook a detailed review of emails, mobile phone communications and financial records.

When the announcement finally landed, it did so with the force of an asteroid. And like the asteroid that struck the Earth some 46 million years ago, the CMA asteroid could spark an ice age for the UK demolition sector.

The CMA investigation has laid bare the inner workings of the UK demolition sector. It has revealed to the world a sector in which unlawful activity is seen as a path to profit. It has shown that even some of the biggest names in the global demolition industry have not risen above the down and dirty approach that most of us hoped had been consigned to the industry’s history books.

And it has also shown that some would prefer to look the other way rather than actually confront the corruption staring them in the face.

The levels of fines levied against the 10 companies that were ultimately found guilty of wrongdoing are big. In one or two cases, they are massive.

The long running investigation culminated in fines totalling £59,334,957 for colluding on prices through illegal cartel agreements when submitting bids in competitive tenders for contracts.

These bids were rigged, deceiving the customer that they were competitive when that was not the case.

Each of the ten firms was involved in at least one instance of bid rigging between January 2013 and June 2018. All 10 firms were members of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors at the time of the offences.

Bids were rigged by one or more of the firms agreeing to submit bids that were deliberately priced to lose the tender. This practice of ‘cover bidding’ can result in customers paying higher prices or receiving lower quality services.

In addition, the CMA found that five of the firms, on at least one occasion each, were involved in arrangements by which the designated ‘losers’ of the contracts were set to be compensated by the winner. Those firms were Brown and Mason, Cantillon, McGee, Scudder and Erith.

The value of this compensation varied but was higher than £500,000 in one instance.  Some firms produced false invoices to hide this part of the illegal behaviour.

The CMA found that the instances of illegal collusion took place over a five-year period and affected 19 contracts for demolition work in London, the Southeast, and the Midlands. 

The public and private sector contracts included the development of Bow Street Magistrates Court and Police station, the Metropolitan Police training centre in Hendon, Selfridges (London), properties belonging to Oxford and Coventry Universities, shopping centres in Reading and Taplow, a large office block on London’s Southbank and other sites in central London.

In total, the bid rigging impacted 19 individual contracts valued at around £150 million. Several of those contracts were funded by the public purse.

Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement, said: “The construction sector is key to our country’s prosperity, so we want to see a competitive marketplace delivering value, innovation, and quality.
Today’s significant fines show that the CMA continues to crack down on illegal cartel behaviour. It should serve as a clear warning: the CMA will not tolerate unlawful conduct which weakens competition and keeps prices up at the expense of businesses and taxpayers.
We have also secured the disqualification of certain company directors involved. Company directors must understand that they have personal responsibility for ensuring that their companies comply with competition law, and that disqualification may follow if they fail to do so.”

The disqualified directors are David Darsey (formerly a director of Erith) who has been disqualified for a period of 5 years and 10 months; Michael Cantillon (formerly a director of Cantillon) who is disqualified for 7 years and 6 months; and Paul Cluskey (a current director of Cantillon) who is disqualified for 4 years and 6 months.

Each of these directors benefited from reduced disqualification periods, having voluntarily agreed to the disqualification by way of undertakings to the CMA.

The latest and long overdue announcement from the CMA largely closes this chapter of the story, even though Keltbray has said that it plans to appeal what it describes as an excessive fine.

But this story is far from over.

Given the level of fines levied and the scale of the bid rigging uncovered by the Competition and Markets Authority, could we now see criminal prosecutions of the individuals involved.

And, even if we don’t, it is now clear to all those clients and contractors just where collusion took place and where they likely paid over the odds for demolition work that had been rigged. Could we now see those clients and contractors seeking to recoup the money they overpaid? If they do, the 10 firms caught up in the scandal could face further financial losses that might well include interest and court costs.

There is a twist in this tale, however.

For one thing, nine of the 10 companies that have been fined remain comfortably within the bosom of perceived respectability, their NFDC memberships intact.

It was, perhaps, naïve to expect the NFDC to kick out some of its biggest and best-known members. But the fact that the Federation has remained tight-lipped throughout the whole sorry business is to its detriment.

By standing by the guilty 10, the NFDC has tainted the reputation of its entire membership.

Then again, perhaps reputation counts for nothing these days. Even while these companies were under investigation and long after many of them had admitted their involvement, they continued to win work. Bizarrely, they will continue to do so.

Modern demolition work, particularly that taking place within London or as part of a framework, requires contractors to prove they have the financial clout to see a project through to completion.

The 10 companies handed fines by the CMA are among the firms with the greatest financial clout in the UK demolition industry. And so, some clients and some frameworks will have no choice but to employ the services of companies that have been proven to be unlawful because those companies have enough money in the bank. Some of which was obtained by unlawful means.

All those UK demolition companies that were not part of the cartel and who thought they might now get a shot at the big time, I am afraid will have to think again.

Apparently, that’s not how the modern construction industry works.

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Breaking News – NFDC names new CEO

The National Federation of Demolition Contractors has announced that Duncan Rudall is to replace Howard Button as CEO.

Rudall is a popular figure in UK demolition circles and his name has been linked to the role since it was announced that the search had started for a replacement.

He has been an active member of the Institute of Demolition Engineers and a former regional chairman within the NFDC so he knows the inner workings of the Federation. As a former demolition trainer, Rudall also brings with him a wealth of knowledge on training which will be invaluable as – presumably – he will be responsible for overseeing the National Demolition Training Group.

Federation members will, I am sure, be relieved that the new CEO has been found within the demolition sector rather than from without.

Howard Button will be a tough act to follow. But Rudall is well-known and well-liked, and he will bring with him some youthful vigour. Besides, it is understood that Rudall will work alongside his predecessor during a transition period before taking up the reins full-time.

The Break Fast Show #482

In today’s show: Massive bid-rigging fines rock the UK demolition industry to its core; Gryb Attachments is one to watch for the future; and CASE shows off its latest excavators.

PLUS Liebherr unveils its latest mini epic.

Join us LIVE for the Break Fast Show – the only daily live news show for the demolition and construction industry; and stick around for the after-show chat: The Craic.