A Day in the Life…  Antony Harris

Back in November Antony Harris our Business Development Manager was lucky enough to be feature in the Business section of the Yorkshire Post, under the A Day in the Life section.

Read the full article below:

Antony Harris, Business Development Manager at Traditional Stone

Anyone in the business of sourcing and processing natural products will know exactly what I mean when I say that no two working days are ever the same. As Business Development Manager for Traditional Stone, I provide clients across the north of England, and sometimes further afield, with new and reclaimed natural stone products for walling, masonry, roofing and landscaping.

You only have to look at the landscape or street-scene around you to see how Yorkshire has a vast mix of building styles, with many using our traditional local stones. That makes every building project unique, whether that’s because of the type of stone, its finish, texture or colour, or the building design itself.

And this is what makes my job so interesting – one minute we can be supplying stone for a ‘Grand Designs’ style self-build project, and the next to a member of the public laying a new patio or driveway or even carving a new fireplace. We have just completed our largest ever single order worth £1.4 million, but today we’ll also have completed various small orders via our eBay store – so it’s about catering for all types of customer.

Generally speaking, my day begins around 7am. I live in Halifax, around half an hour away from our five acre site close to the M1 at Horbury, but often my first port of call will be with customers or suppliers. We need to balance supply with customer demand and that means being involved at both ends of the supply chain. I regularly visit quarries in the most remote parts of the region – and when we’re out assessing stone samples in a hillside quarry 1,000 feet above sea level in deepest winter, that can be bracing to say the least!

Working with stone gives us fascinating insights into the past. Natural stone is full of faults, so we are very much in the hands of the gods. We often discover fossils deep within the extracted stone – no dinosaur bones so far, but plenty of fossilised bamboo which reveals Britain’s once very different climate.

Another source of our new stone is Spain. We are supplied by two quarries close to Barcelona which ensure we can supplement the volumes accessible from UK quarries, with the same high quality and similar stone types. I work with my colleagues to keep this on tap and connect customers with this important supply source.

Whilst new stone products are a large part of what we do, another part of my day revolves around sourcing reclaimed stone. We’ve built some strong relationships with demolition contractors across Yorkshire, the North East and the North West, which means we can access a regular supply of stone that can be reprocessed and re-used in new building projects. This is at the core of sustainable building – it’s very labour intensive, but chimes with the growing movement to re-using products for the same purpose, rather than recycling which can be quite energy intensive.

Most of my suppliers and colleagues will know me wearing my rigger boots and hi-vis overcoat, but I do also spruce myself up with shiny shoes and a smart suit for the other half of my day! I meet with customers almost every day, which involves advising architects, contactors, developers, self-builders, landscape architects, housebuilders and builders’ merchants in the main.

The demand for different types of stone can be very specific and tied to a neatly defined locality. For example, we supply what is known as ‘Reclaimed Random Punch Gritstone’ for many projects in the areas in and around Harrogate and Ilkley, whereas builders in the Pennine towns such as Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield will usually need a stone known as Reclaimed Delph Sandstone. York, Wetherby and down the A1 to Doncaster is where Limestone is usually required.

I help developers large and small get it right, carrying out stone surveys on site and providing samples to satisfy planning requirements, as well as helping to ensure sustainable development can continue where a sympathetic approach is needed, such as in conservation areas.

In the 25 years that I’ve worked in the business of supplying building products, I’ve seen the ups and downs of the market, but the appeal of natural stone never wanes. Prior to joining Traditional Stone, I worked for Marshalls PLC and I am a member of the Stone Federation Great Britain. Occasionally, this involves speaking at industry events about the natural stone of the north of England to help guide customers who might not be familiar with the different types and their characteristics.