Quarryman in tune with the past and future of masonry
Borders firm uses natural resources on prestige projects across the UK
AS debate rages about the best way to boost economic growth we hear from a man who has developed a successful business after spotting the potential of a natural resource that does not get as much recognition as others such as oil. Name: Marcus Paine. Age: 49. What is your business called? Hutton Stone Co Ltd. Where is it based? West Fishwick, Berwickshire, Scottish Borders. What does it produce, what services does it offer? With six generations of experience in natural stone quarrying, we provide a complete masonry supply service from our own quarried block to finely finished carving and masonry.
Because we have our own quarries and use state-of-the-art sawing and production equipment we’re able to provide a raft of services from carving, masonry, and restoration to fireplaces, paving, and contract sawing. To whom does it sell? The general public and building contractors. What is its turnover? Circa £2,000,000. How many employees? When was it formed? 35. 1994. Why did you take the plunge? An opportunity was spotted to establish a stone masonry business in the Borders because the area, at that time, had no local trade to speak off.
Working with natural stone has been in my family for nearly two centuries, and after my mum and dad moved to the Borders in 1989 we decided to use all those years of experience to fill a gap in the market.
I’d been working in London previously and moved to Scotland to help launch the business in 1994, which initially dealt in reclaimed stone.
During the first year I worked alone with my father also giving me a hand.
Over the next few years we steadily built to four employees, working out of one of the farm sheds.
Since then we’ve grown year on year. In 1999, we moved to our present operational site and re-opened Swinton Quarry, whose stone is historically used throughout the Borders, Edinburgh and North Northumberland.
We then reopened Hazeldean Quarry in 2010.
We supply throughout the whole of the UK – from London to Shetland – and have worked on notable projects including the Old Quadrangle at Edinburgh University and the Natural History Museum in London. What were you doing before you took the plunge? I was working in London in the construction industry. I didn’t go to university; my interest had always been in quarrying and the associated construction industry, therefore when I left school I entered into a construction trade apprenticeship in my home town on the south coast.
I continued in construction, completing my apprenticeship with honours – and receiving an apprenticeship award.
This led me to London where I worked in the industry for 11 years before being offered the chance to begin Hutton Stone Co Ltd where my parents had moved after selling their family quarrying business and farm in the south of England. How did you raise the start-up funding? When I purchased my first saw I borrowed money from the bank, with my parents providing the security, and for the first eight months I paid myself nothing.
The following year I paid myself £80 per week and continued living off my savings.
When I first started the company I owned 50 per cent of it, my father had a 48 per cent share and my mother a two per cent share.
Her share was just in case my father and I couldn’t agree on a decision and I am proud to say that in 22 years we have always found a consensus between us.
Today my father is still a 20 per cent shareholder, an invaluable support and an excellent listener. What do you most enjoy about running the business? I am extremely proud of the firm and really enjoy seeing how the team helps drive the business forward.
I also enjoy seeing – and helping – my team develop. We work hard with our staff, offering on-going training and development within the confines that SME presents, and believe in promoting and investing in all team members that work hard for us.
Our recent involvement with Scottish Enterprise and Business Gateway Scottish Borders has given us many exciting possibilities to enhance and train our management team and other members of our team further.
We have found the mentoring we have received from the organisations to be extremely helpful, particularly the service we get from Sandra Campbell at Business Gateway and the people she connects us with.
I believe in an open door policy. My staff can come directly to me with anything and are always listened to and invited to share their thoughts and opinions.
This results in a mutual respect within the team and a very low staff turnover. What do you least enjoy? We’d love to create and expand our range of products and services and improve our infrastructure further – but we have to work within the limits of our own profitability and that can be somewhat frustrating. What are your ambitions for the firm? To continue to grow and develop in a sustainable manner whilst continuing to maintain top-level service and quality. What are your five top priorities? To develop management and staff; to promote the use of indigenous materials in UK projects; to improve our office and customer facilities here at the production site; to develop additional sources of material; to continue to develop our brand. What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help? In Scotland we are extremely lucky that SME’s can be heard by the Scottish Government. However, policies that support the indigenous manufacture of products and the knock on benefits to local communities are essential to the future of the nation. What was the most valuable lesson that you learned? As the fifth generation of our family to be running a stone business I’ve learnt that, as well as making sure your service and products are the best they can be, surrounding yourself with highly skilled people in their own areas of expertise is vital. How do you relax? I enjoy time with my family and riding motorcycles. Today: Nil Tomorrow: Nil Wednesday: DFS Furniture PLC, 7.50p; JPMorgan Japanese Investment Trust PLC, 3.65p; Perpetual Income and Growth Investment Trust PLC, 3p Thursday: Nil Friday: Acorn Income Fund Ltd., 4p; Albion Venture Capital Trust PLC, 2.50p; Alliance Trust PLC, 3.85p; Clipper Logistics PLC, 2.40p; Ediston Property Investment Company PLC, 0.4583p; F&C Capital and Income Investment Trust PLC, 3.25p; F&C Commercial Property Trust Ltd. (New Co.), 0.50p; F&C UK Real Estate Investments Ltd., 1.25p; First Property Group PLC, 0.40p; Foresight Solar Fund Ltd., 1.54p; Helical PLC, 2.40p; Henderson Diversified Income Ltd., 1.35p; HICL Infrastructure Co. Ltd., 1.91p; Imperial Brands PLC, 54.10p; INVESCO Income Growth Trust PLC, 2.20p; Kainos Group PLC, 1.90p; MedicX Fund Ltd., 1.4875p; NextEnergy Solar Fund Ltd., 1.5775p; Palace Capital PLC, 9p; Premier Energy and Water Trust PLC, 1.90p; Temple Bar Investment Trust PLC, 8.09p; The Renewables Infrastructure Group Ltd., 1.5625p; TwentyFour Select Monthly Income Fund Ltd., 0.50p