This week Gavin took time out of his busy schedule to talk about his role at London Stone which he runs with his brothers, Steven and Duncan. Before running the company, they worked together in the landscaping industry and therefore have first-hand experience of the challenges faced by landscapers, contractors and designers. Their in-depth product knowledge and top quality customer service had stood them in good stead since starting the business at the beginning of 2006.The germ of the idea for setting up London Stone developed following a trip to visit suppliers in Rajasthan, India. At the time they saw the potential growth for supplying Indian sandstone to the UK market. Within a month of their return, they had ordered 15 containers of riven Indian sandstone paving in readiness for this 2006 season. The pallets were filled with four sizes of Fossil Mint, Autumn Brown and Raj Green – colours London Stone still stock today.
Originally based in the north of England, it was decided that the company would be best placed near London and today there are three London Stone showrooms ideally placed around the M25 for meeting the demand from customers in the south-east.
Gavin personally manages all the sales teams and the showroom managers. He also manages the project team who deal with tenders and orders from large landscaping companies, builders, developers and architects. Tenders from the private sector are submitted to the team who work on costings based on detailed specifications. They will liaise with Gavin with any questions which arise on requirements for bespoke stone masonry.
Over the years, London Stone has introduced lots of premium products for high end developments where there has been a trend towards minimal, clean lines in designs. The introduction of the sawn products has met much of this new demand. The increasing popularity of London Stone’s bespoke products has come off the back of this design trend. One of London Stone’s aims is to make a high quality, tailor-made product accessible to all landscaping projects giving every home owner a unique look.
Recently there is an increasing interest in British stone paving such as Yorkstone and Portland Stone paving. Gavin says, ‘there is nothing like supporting your own economy’ and customers like to ‘buy local’ where possible.
Gavin’s other area of responsibility is production. This requires managing output, quality and lead times. One of his objectives has been to ensure that the customer is made aware of the different properties and characteristics of the stone they are ordering making sure that the paving is suitable for the style and location of the paved area. When taking delivery, the production team will check the integrity of the stone, the sizes and the packing. It is not just a case of unloading a container and shipping the pallets off to customers!
One of the earliest decisions London Stone made was to supply calibrated Indian sandstone slabs, much to the relief of the landscapers and contractors who could lay them much more efficiently.
Both the garden shows in the summer and the trade shows raise the profile of the company. Gavin recently attended Futurescape 2014, which gave him the opportunity to meet existing and potential customers face-to-face and showcase the wide range of paving stones.
Gavin’s enthusiasm for the business continues to grow with the company. The challenge of an ever-changing industry means that there is never a dull day at London Stone, which hopes to be at the forefront of offering a diverse range of high quality stone products.