Team Spotlight: David Barrow, Managing Director – Celebrating Haddonstone’s 50th Anniversary

This year, Haddonstone celebrates its 50th anniversary and there is no-one more proud of this significant milestone than David Barrow, our Managing Director.

David’s father, Bob Barrow started Haddonstone in 1971, producing a small range of garden stonework from his Northamptonshire garage.

Fast forward to today and Haddonstone is now the world’s leading manufacturer of the highest-quality architectural and garden stonework.

In this exclusive blog, David discusses Haddonstone’s development over the years and what makes the company so special.

  • David Barrow in the Haddonstone Show Gardens

    David Barrow in the Haddonstone Show Gardens

Haddonstone is a well-loved family brand. As Managing Director, what are you most proud of?

This year we celebrate 50 years in business, which is a huge achievement for any company.

I would say that I am most proud of our team and their willingness to improve the business in each and every area. This is paramount to helping to take Haddonstone forward.

I also genuinely love our products – seeing how our cast stonework can transform a house or a garden is incredibly rewarding.

Could you describe a typical day/week for you at Haddonstone?

I spend time each week getting around each area of the business – having a 360-degree oversight is really useful for checking that everything is operating as it should.

Two or three days per week, I will walk around the factory, with Tony, our Production Director, checking that everything from our bespoke and standard range moulds to the finished stonework in our finishing area, is as it should be. Having an extra set of eyes also helps from a health and safety point of view.

I also meet with the other company Directors each week to discuss all areas of the business, from Finance and Sales to Marketing.  I will speak with our USA President in Colorado three to four days per week, and I also try to go out to our business over there four times per year.

Finally, I travel to our other business, Pennine, in Yorkshire, once a fortnight.

Can you describe some of the changes and developments you’ve seen at Haddonstone over the past 50 years?

Haddonstone has grown enormously since its early beginnings back in 1971.  Back then, the company was a team of around six people, producing just garden ornaments.

After starting to manufacture a few wall copings and piers caps, it was during the ’80s that Haddonstone started to produce architectural stonework and this meant bringing in more professional staff, such as estimators, who really understood the technical side of the construction and architectural sectors.

In 1986 we moved to a larger factory space in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, which was a defining change in us being able to take the business forward. The new space meant that in 1988 we could build a new studio block, which meant we could produce our own fibreglass moulds on the same site as our factory. This really progressed the Building and Construction side of the business, as it meant we could produce cast stone components to almost any specification.

In the 1990’s Haddonstone really grew and established itself as the world’s leading cast stone manufacturer, working with clients and distributors across the globe and also opening a business in Colorado, USA around 1996.

It was during the next couple of decades that we introduced more technology and systems into the factory, providing us with more control over our output. We also introduced our wet mix material, offering a more ‘builder-friendly’ product.  With this new material, we could manufacture a wider range of components, that could even be structurally reinforced. For our clients, it also meant that it was easier and quicker to install.

Fast forward to today and our traditional methods continue to merge with the introduction of new technologies both in the factory and in our mould shops, but also in our sales and marketing departments. The introduction of CAD and 3D technology, as well as the advance of augmented reality has, and will continue to, enable us to progress as a business.

Over the last 50 years, what’s been the biggest challenge so far and how did you overcome it?

I would say that responding to the market’s needs has been the biggest challenge for us as a business.  In particular, our Building and Construction offering has had to develop to keep up with the changing demands of speed and offering a wider product range within the building and architectural sectors.

This has meant recruiting the right people, in the right roles within the business – and ensuring they have the training and skills required.

A big challenge for us, like any business, is to strike the right balance between retaining experienced staff whilst bringing in fresh talent.  Many of our colleagues have been with us for many years, so it’s always challenging when we lose that experience when they decide to retire, for example.  But, by recruiting additional staff, with new ideas, we can ensure that the business continues to move forward.

Another challenge is how we merge our traditional, handmade techniques with modern methods, whilst improving efficiencies and moving with the times.

Haddonstone prides itself on the experience it offers to its customers. What has the last 50 years taught you about what’s essential for a positive customer experience?

Without question, it’s about being reactive to the customer, quickly and professionally.  In any instance where an issue may occur, it’s important to react and to not let things fester.

We are very lucky to have a great team of knowledgeable colleagues, who each pride themselves on delivering excellent customer service.

  • Portland

If you had to pick a favourite Haddonstone Home and Garden design from our collection, what would it be and why?

I would have to choose the Elizabethan Jardiniere. I remember this design being made from scratch at the Manor House when my father first started the business.

It was an original Haddonstone design and so has lots of heritage and tradition.

Over the years, it has become one of our most popular planters and it’s no surprise why.  It has a classic design, but it suits every garden.

  • Royal Pavilion, Poundbury, C G Fry and Son

…and a favourite Building and Construction project we have been involved with and why?

It’s difficult to choose just one!  First and foremost, it would have to be The Royal Pavilion, Poundbury.  This was the largest and most prestigious project we have ever worked on.

We have also manufactured and exported stone for some interesting projects in Qatar.

Finally, working on the Royal College of Music has to be a favourite.  Again, another prestigious building and the stonework looks great.

  • Bath

What do you think makes Haddonstone so special for our valued customers?

I genuinely believe that our customers love our products, which is why they return to us time and time again.

Our Home and Garden customers enjoy the fact that our stonework can be found on prestigious buildings, National Trust properties and in fact, all over the world.

It’s always very satisfying for them (and for us) to see their designs appear in glossy magazines such as Country Life!  Many of the houses for sale feature our wonderful garden planters.

For our Building and Construction clients, they know that they can trust us to deliver the very highest specification cast stonework with great care and to their exact requirements.

Our team is very experienced and offer first-class customer service, so our clients know that they are always in safe hands.

Many of our colleagues have been with us for many years. Why do you think Haddonstone is a great place to work?

We are lucky to have a great team that enjoys our professional, but relaxed and friendly culture.

We work hard, but enjoy various social events such as summer BBQs, Christmas get-togethers and so on.

Our colleagues across all sides of the business are also visibly passionate about the product, whether that’s a Home and Garden design or a Building and Construction architectural component.

Haddonstone celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year. What is your vision for the company for the next 50 years?

I think we have to take the next chapter in Haddonstone’s history in phases!

In the next five to ten years, I’d like to see us continue to invest in our facilities and systems, to help improve efficiencies across our production, sales and marketing.

I’d also like to see us add some interesting new products to our range.

We are always looking to continually improve and move the business forward and I am looking forward to Haddonstone’s next chapter!

Discover when it all began…

You can learn more about the history of Haddonstone, from humble beginnings to the world’s leading cast stone manufacturer here:

Our story

Here to help you with your next project

Our experienced and friendly team has been helping clients complete their projects, in the UK and across the world, for the past 50 years.

Whether you have a new architectural project in mind, or would like some help choosing stonework for your garden, our team are on hand to assist you.

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