With a family history of stonemasonry dating back to the 1600s, Wood for Stone owner and 6th generation master stonemason, Andrew Wood, is now bringing production at his Manningtree business into the 21st century with the help of an East of England Regional Growth Loan.
With a diverse range of natural stone products that includes fireplaces, staircases, kitchen worktops, and headstones to name a few, the company holds experience and expertise in all aspects of stone which sets it apart from the more limited competition. This wide service offering together with a good mix of corporate and private clients saw demand rise beyond the means of the business during 2016, as Andrew explains: “Our team of four skilled craftsmen developed an exceptional reputation for producing work of the highest quality across a broad range of products and services. This brought a welcome increase in enquiries both from returning customers and new contacts as word of mouth referrals spread. However, last year we reached a point where we were having to turn work away – a situation that no business wants to be in – so we decided to invest in changes that would boost capacity to meet that demand plus allow room for further growth.”
Finance East provided Wood for Stone with a £160,000 loan from the Regional Growth Loan Scheme (RGLS) to purchase a state of the art cutting machine and assist with costs to move the business to a larger unit. The machine has sped up some of the operations that were traditionally done by hand whilst also freeing up skilled employees – including Andrew’s daughter, Laura, the 7th generation stonemason in the family – to produce more of the detailed stonework.
This should enable production to double this year, which will be supported with the addition of two further stone cutters. Stuart Ager, Senior Fund Manager at Finance East which manages the RGLS, says: “By taking steps to increase capacity, Andrew can now look to expand the current market base further, particularly focusing on the commercial sector where there is a significant opportunity to work even more closely with quality builders seeking high end finishes. Wood for Stone’s strong working relationships with suppliers together with its extensive skillset and sector knowledge means that it is well positioned to deliver against the varied needs of its growing list of clients.”
The RGLS is managed by Finance East, part of The FSE Group, on behalf of Local Enterprise Partnerships in the East of England and British Business Bank. The RGLS is available to established, incorporated businesses based within the East of England that have a minimum annual turnover of £100k, show strong growth potential and have a medium to long-term funding requirement to deliver that growth.