Anniversary milestone for steel firm

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS: SMD staff and directors, front from left, Business Development Director Dan Williams, Managing Director Ben Pratten and Technical Director Jamie Turner at the company’s Tower Park, Poole, headquarters

A construction company formed in the year building work started on the channel tunnel is celebrating its 30th anniversary after growing to be one of the leading players in the UK steel industry.

Structural Metal Decks Ltd, now known simply as SMD, has shaped Britain’s skyline by helping to build iconic structures such as the Shard and the Olympic Park in London, Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium and terminals at Heathrow Airport.

The company was founded by Rowan Structures on February 9 1987, worked out of a small office at Teal House, Ringwood, employed just a handful of staff and quickly found its feet as the construction industry was recovering from the recession in the 1980s.

SMD’s rise to prominence coincided with the increasing use of metal decking across the industry and the company, then selling just one type of decking, hit the £1m turnover benchmark before the 1980s were out.

SMD worked closely with Firth Steels before its parent company was taken over by Severfield Reeve in 1995. A management buy-out by Sid Pratten and Roger Firth followed and the company as it is today was born.

Now based at Tower Park, Poole, and employing more than 100 people, SMD is one of only a handful of British firms which designs, manufactures and installs its own steel decking systems and associated concrete work.

Ben Pratten, who became SMD Managing Director in 2014, said: “It is testament to the loyalty, devotion and sheer hard work of everyone who has worked for the company that we have reached this 30th anniversary milestone.

“The construction industry, competitive at the best of times, has gone through a number of economic downturns, but we have survived, thanks to a quality product, an excellent workforce and continued investment and technical innovation.

“SMD has built a strong reputation throughout the industry as a reliable manufacturer and sub-contractor and we have grown the business by offering additional products and services to support our client-centric approach.

“We understand the importance of safety, reliability, quality and excellent service, and we always work in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.”

SMD, which moved to new Tower Park HQ, The Outlook, in 2006, also has offices in Nottinghamshire, Scotland and Dubai and a design base in India.

More than 200 construction projects carried out locally since 1987 include the RNLI, Poole, the arrivals building at Bournemouth Airport, Bournemouth University’s Fusion 1 building, student accommodation and the STEM Centre at Bournemouth & Poole College.

Overseas work has included the Tiara United Towers, the Snow Centre and the International Finance Centre, all in Dubai, and the Philharmonie de Paris, France.

Ben added: “Our aim now is to be the UK’s leading provider of structural floor and roof solutions to the construction industry, along with expanding our brand and products internationally.”


What happened in the year SMD was founded – notable events in 1987

January 13 – Prince Edward quits the Royal Marines after just three months

January 20 – the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy Terry Waite disappears in Beirut, Lebanon, while negotiating the release of hostages

February 26 – the Church of England’s General Synod votes to allow the ordination of women

March 6 – the ferry MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsizes while leaving Zeebrugge harbour, Belgium, killing 193 on board

May 16 – Coventry City win the FA Cup for the first time in their history with a 3–2 final win over Tottenham Hotspur

June 11 – Margaret Thatcher wins her third term in office at the General Election

August 19 – gunman Michael Ryan shoots dead 14 people in Hungerford, Berkshire, before killing himself

October 1 – Swedish home product retailer IKEA opens its first British store in Warrington, Cheshire

October 15-16 – the Great Storm leaves 23 people dead as hurricane force winds cause extensive damage to property in south-east England

October 19 – the Black Monday Wall Street crash leads to £50 billion being wiped of the value of shares on the London stock exchange

October 23 – Retired jockey Lester Piggott is jailed for three years for tax evasion

November 5 – London City Airport opens

November 18 – a fire at Kings Cross on the London Underground kills 31 people

December 9 – England cricket team captain Mike Gatting and umpire Shakoor Rana row during a Test Match in Pakistan

December 15 – Construction work on the Channel Tunnel starts. It opened in May 1994

December 25 – More than 26 million people watch Jean Alexander’s last appearance as Hilda Ogden on Coronation Street after 23 years

Notes for editors:

Structural Metal Decks (SMD) was founded in 1987 and is based in Poole, Dorset. It designs, manufactures and installs metal decking systems for projects across the world. It employs more than 100 people – some based in India and Dubai. SMD has worked on some of the world’s most iconic buildings, including the Shard and The Olympic Village in London and Manchester’s Etihad Stadium.

For more information contact Cliff Moore at Deep South Media on 01202 534487 or 07469158458 or Ed Baker at Deep South Media on 01202 534487 or 07788392965.