Adapting to changing needs has always been the secret of success for luxury furniture maker Derek Yorke.
Now the Birmingham-based master craftsman, who set up his Castleton Yorke in 1992 with backing from Business Link in the West Midlands, is surviving the credit crunch by turning his skills to restoring solid wood furniture.
He is safeguarding his own and five other jobs through renovation contracts including bringing a new look to old fitted kitchens. He said: “Where once customers wouldn’t think twice at spending upwards of £30,000 on a new kitchen, now they are looking more at make do and mend. We’re stripping down and completely refinishing a solid oak, fitted kitchen which, once completed, will look like a new one at a fraction of the cost.”
From his base on the Windward Way Industrial Estate in Birmingham, the company designs and produces high-quality, bespoke furniture in a range of hardwoods, creates traditional and contemporary pieces and prides itself on a first-rate job at a realistic price.
Mr Yorke said: “I never claim that my products are cheap but they are built to last. We work to customers’ own designs or design pieces to their specification and always do our very best to please each and every client.
“In the economic climate, it is important to keep prices affordable and our restoration skills are coming into their own. If you don’t adapt you don’t exist.
“We not only produce Regency style furniture but we can also restore it. We are experts in designing and cabinet-making but also in restoration, polishing and upholstery.
‘‘The quality of our products speaks for itself when you take into account that Castleton Yorke has survived 16 years in business without any shop front through which to sell its goods. Many customers come through word-of-mouth recommendation.”
Derek says his early training in how to run a business delivered through Business Link in the West Midlands has stood him in good stead. “I started out on my own after being made redundant as the sales manager of a large furniture store.
‘‘I did my craftsman’s training and approached Business Link who sent me on a management course in Solihull.
“I have never forgotten what I learned on that course. We started out with a class of 45 and, by the time we finished, there were just nine of us left.
‘‘We learned all about accountancy and the mechanics of running your own business and I can always remember our teacher who told us: ‘If you can stand this, then you’ll run a business’.”
“A customer who already has a house full of solid oak or mahogany furniture is going to want something to match when he orders a new piece. He doesn’t want to start afresh and replace the whole lot just because of a fashion trend.”