stoneCIRCLE has finally managed to realise a dream – the expansion of the factory by 20,000 ft² to allow the company to keep up with demand and have room for growth: something which had long been hindered by the refusal of planning permission by the local authority on land purchased in 2004 with the intention of enlarging the existing factory. Permission was finally granted in 2013, allowing designs to be drawn up and work to start, cementing its roots in Basingstoke where it has been based for the last 48 years.
The new building is built to BREEAM standards with high standards of insulation, 300m² of solar panels and rainwater collection and recycling. There is also a new yard to enable them to hold more stock of marble and granite slabs and handle them more easily as well as creating turning space for the delivery lorries, something that was missing beforehand.
With the extension has come a lot of new equipment including a new water jet cutter and other CNC controlled machinery.The company has been growing despite the recession and had been operating at full capacity. The extra machines mean that they can now meet demand and expand turnover further.
Around 25% of their sales are directly to consumers through their showrooms, the rest comes from a mix of kitchen and bathroom showrooms, interior designers and developers and increasingly from stone contractors who previously used foreign stone fabricators.
The company has supplied stone for many prestigious contracts including curved and twisted marble string courses for a staircase project in Shanghai, White Onyx bar tops on lightweight honeycomb backing for the Airbus A380 and the Royal Suites at a top London hotel.
The expansion has naturally led to an increase in the number of employees. The workforce numbers 50 people, 38 of them in the factory or templating and installing, the rest in sales and administration. The recent award of a WorkSafe certificate as a contractor by Safety Management Advisory Services Limited provides recognition that stoneCIRCLE is a responsible employer that cares for the welfare of its staff. Steve Vanhinsbergh, one of the two brothers who run the company commented “I think there’s a reluctance of youngsters to come into the industry because of the way it’s perceived, but it’s hi-tech engineering in stone these days. No-one entering this industry need ever be out of work.”
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