Block & Chisel hits the ripe old age of 30 next year, but shows no sign of getting old. In fact this family-grown business continues to grow from strength to strength.
From what was previously a collection of small boutique stores, Block & Chisel now has a Cape Town flagship store, a Johannesburg store in Illovo, and their long-standing original Wynberg Village store, and have just opened a new 1500 sq.metre energy efficient factory.
The brand handles the manufacture of its own designs – known as the Sibley collection, after the co-founder and Head of Design Sibley McAdam – producing English and French Country furniture, and now modern country furniture, from beginning to end, including the extensive paint finishing process which is handled in-house.
Chris Stevenson, Head of Manufacturing, explains, “Ultimately we have always wanted to increase the production of our own unique range of high quality local furniture, and the timing is right for that. There is both the demand which has not waned for us in this top end, and also our local furniture is well priced despite ongoing currency fluctuations. But we are also a family business that understand the importance of investing in both this country and its people, and by doing so, we can offer both employment and skills development opportunities. Our staff are important to us, most having been with us a long time, and some for as many as 20 years. We have invested in and helped develop their skills from mere apprentice to becoming real craftsmen. Staff have been empowered – a cabinet maker has moved on to become a CAD draughtsman, an assembler is taking on the integration of our new SAP computer system on the factory floor, and one of our sanding ladies has moved on to becoming a competent paint finisher.”
What’s of most importance is that our staff understand, and are just as passionate about, the designs and quality of our products as we are, and this two-way relationship adds to the strength of our brand.
He concludes, “Of all the things we’re so pleased about, it’s the structure we have created for the team to build our product. There’s a flow and efficiency from start to finish, and we love the mobility of all of our work stations and storage units – a fluidity and intelligence to how it plays out now. The environment is spacious and clean which has made a direct impact on our culture and morale. The end result in our first few months is an increased output of 20% and our target in the next few months is up to 35%. And most importantly the state of the art machines we have purchased have only further enhanced the fine finish of this ever-evolving collection of furniture.”
All images courtesy of Block & Chisel
Block & Chisel
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