Twentieth anniversary portraits: Kevin Budd and Mark Krull

03 May 2024


Twenty years running a business is a significant milestone. We caught up with Kevin Budd, founder, and MD of LCL Awards and Mark Krull, long-time Director to find out how they were feeling about 2024, their anniversary year. To look back at the journey they’ve taken and some of the significant developments they’ve made along the way and to give a sense of where LCL Awards might be going in the future. 

Kevin began by talking about the early days:

“Gayle and I first thought of setting up the company back in the early 2000’s when we were fed up with the service that the other Awarding Bodies were offering at the time!  Having run our own gas training business we knew exactly what we wanted a Certification Body to provide, and we thought we could do it better.

“Gayle took care of finance, and we employed Peter Dayton, to head up the training and assessment side of the business. I’d come across Peter years before, when he trained me and my engineers at a heating company I owned. Before he’d gone into training and assessing, Peter had worked on the technical side of the original CORGI gas registration company, dealing with the technical and regulation output.  When it came to helping Gayle and I set up Logic Certification, Peter had the skills we were looking for and within a few years he and Gayle started the technical, regulation compliance work that enabled us to get UKAS accreditation. The rest is history, as they say!

“Things were tough in the early years. It’s a top-heavy business, lots of outlay supporting EVs flying around everywhere, and finances were tight, but we kept our heads down, learnt as we went along and grew slowly and steadily for the first fifteen years. It’s only in the last five that we’ve been pushing growth and are beginning to see the rewards of that. I think what we’ve been good at is judging when we need to bring in people to help us – and knowing who we need to ask for help. 

“I haven’t been involved in the day to day running of the company for a few years now, but we’ve been fortunate in having really good staff. Good staff retention - and that counts for a lot. “

Mark concurs:

“We have a great team here. There’s a lot of loyalty and I think the staff are proud to be part of what we do. Beyond them, our centres and their candidates are our lifeblood. We’ve always put them at the heart of everything. Our engagement with them is very important.  It takes time to build good working relationships and we value these above all else.

“We’ve all worked hard, but it’s been satisfying to see how the business has grown over the years. We are now responsible for 30% of all gas certifications in the country. Gas has historically been our primary focus, but we’re embracing renewables and happy to do so.

"I think a large part of our success has been down to the fact that we’re smaller than the other Certification Bodies & ABs and can more easily and efficiently react to changes and developments within the industry.”

Kevin agrees:

“Yes, the big boys can’t react as quick. It’s about spotting the opportunity and then being able to do something about it. Being small gives you an advantage, you can make your mark more quickly because you don’t have a cumbersome culture you have to adhere to.”

Mark again:

"Yes, there have been a few key moments in the last two decades where we we’ve been able to adapt quickly to changes in industry and show people that the qualifications we offer are bang up to date. One was in 2005 - the addition of Part P to Building Regulations and the tightening up of domestic electrical standards. We’ve had a great relationship with CORGI from the start. When Part P came in, we were able to work with them to design and launch the first in a suite of new Electrical Defined Scope qualifications which helped us move the business into the electrical arena.

“Another key event was a change in notification legislation, whereby installers of a gas heating appliance became responsible for notifying their installation work directly with the Local Authority Building Control department - under Part L of the building regulations. Every installer was required to hold a valid competence certificate or qualification for Energy Efficiency in Domestic Dwellings to do this. Initially C&G were involved in the scheme, but LCL Awards, with support from industry (Manufacturers, HHIC, CORGI, Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes, and others) launched a qualification in 2005 which was adopted by most of the industry. This helped raise our profile considerably and give us real credibility.

“Early on we were approached and supported by some like-minded training providers, who shared Kevin’s desire to improve the services offered by the other Certification Bodies. They were then followed by the manufacturers. Worcester Bosh were the first and we still have a close working relationship with them to this day.

“Over the years we have received support and assistance from several industry bodies, such as the HHIC (The Heating and Hot Water Industry Council), HPA (Heat Pump Association) and Solar UK, which has been valuable, particularly when we came to develop qualifications in renewables. We’ve always worked closely with industry, for example, we developed our Low Temperature Heating & Hot Water qualification with the CIPHE.

“Another significant moment in more recent history, was COVID. That changed us a lot and was another test of our flexibility. It forced us to operate in different ways and challenged the systems we already had in place. It’s all been for the good. During the lockdowns we began working on improving our digital record-keeping and evolving a hybrid approach to the interactions we have with our centres, online and in person. 

“Although we launched our first renewables qualification, in Solar Thermal Hot Water, back in 2006, since then the inconsistencies of government policies, schemes, and the absence of a proper support framework to embrace new technologies has left us and many of our centres feeling exposed.

"In recent years we have embraced a commitment to support sustainable energy sources by developing a range of qualifications in renewables. I’m proud of this and can at last see momentum growing. We’re committed members of various trade bodies supporting renewables, the Heat Pump Association and Solar Energy UK to name just two. We are determined to do all we can to support the UK in achieving Net Zero by 2050 and embrace the support and collaboration we have with industry associations as well as individuals in our efforts to do this.

“That being said, we recognise that traditional technologies are still the major part of what we do and that they still have relevance. The traditional core skills learned by Plumbing and Heating or Electrical engineers are transferable to renewables, which makes up-skilling such a viable option for many. We are constantly updating and moving our existing qualifications forward. Our technical experts have their eyes on the future, whether it be the total electrification of heating, improvements in metering and energy storage, fuel cells or hydrogen, we won’t shy away from bringing in expert help to facilitate new qualifications, whatever they may be. In the past we’ve worked with advisors from industry to help us design qualifications; GTEC, experts in heat pumps, and Business Edge, who are experts in refrigeration, are a couple of examples of this. 

“The Building Services Training sector is a rewarding area in which to work. Developing the aspirations of young learners is a great motivation and it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years; what the expectations of those training to work in the skilled trades will be. Apprenticeships are a great model for some, but they’re not for everyone. Some people require more flexible options and that’s what we’re here to provide.  

“The last twenty years have been wonderful. We recognise that it has been the support of our staff, customers and many others from the industry that has helped us get where we are today. I feel incredibly proud of what LCL Awards has achieved and I’m excited to find out what the future will bring.”