QUALITY and reputation are key elements of surviving the economic downturn, believes Needingworth builder Michael Palmer-Asplin, who has just achieved certification from the national council of the Federation of Master Builders. His company, Michael Palmer-Asplin Builders Limited, is bucking the trend in the construction sector, where major house-building has dwindled to a trickle, and that mostly for the social housing market in this area. "We seem to be very busy still," he told The Hunts Post. "We're doing extensions, conversions, kitchens, bathrooms and we're about to start work on building a new house - in fact more or less exactly the same as we were doing before the downturn. "Most of our work is for people we've worked for in the past or for people past customers have recommended us to. The phone just keeps ringing. "There's also a quality thing. We try to do a good job for a fair price." The company, set up in August 1998, now employs a recently-promoted foreman, Stan Hodson, and two apprentices who are training together at Huntingdonshire Regional College when not putting their training into practice. Michael's wife Clare looks after the office with the help of a part-time book-keeper, and the company uses specialist subcontractors for electrical and plumbing work. To qualify for the FMB certification the company had to provide references from six satisfied customers and obtain endorsements from Huntingdonshire District Council's building control inspectors and a structural engineer. The federation, which has 13,000 vetted members across the UK, has a 68-year history of "promoting excellence in the construction of buildings and just and honourable practice in the conduct of business and to suppress malpractice". Michael's primary skills are in carpentry and joinery, but the company has expanded into general building. Wife Clare said: "Where Michael's skill really comes in is with his craftsmanship and love of wood. It is impressive to see when, from planks of wood, Michael and his team create, for instance, a home study with made-to-measure solid walnut cupboards and computer desks, a solid oak porch way, traditional pine kitchen cupboards and dressers, to modern shaker style wardrobes and chairs, or on a larger scale timber buildings and barns and American style verandas made in oak.