Honest Toil is it’s own reward


“Financial engineering, that’s what you should be doing…” If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that comment, I’d have financially engineered a fortune.

Why do people who don’t seem to do or make very much think they know the true path to riches?

I run a small manufacturing business in an old copper ore sorting shed, on the side of a mountain in the English Lake District,

We do stuff. We make things.

It’s not imaginary. It’s not a concept, or a vision or any number of buzz words. It’s honest toil.

Often, after we’ve made something we step back and admire its beauty. Perhaps the sedimentation of the stone, the lighter or darker shadings, or the smooth feel of the polished slate.

It gives a certain satisfaction in physical achievement with which a financial engineer or a social media influencer probably won’t be familiar.

It also amazes me that everyone seems to know how to run my business.

Family, friends and acquaintances are well meaning.

But there is a whole army of business advisors, experts and mentors – many whose services are paid for by the Government, I’d point out – who have detailed, specific, sure-fire, 24-carrat, copper-bottomed advice that I “would be a fool to ignore”.

Yet… yet few of these so-called experts appear ever to have ever set foot in a successful business, let alone rescued a traditional manufacturer from the brink of insolvency,

Lots of these people are full time civil servants, or similar. Many have been away from the coal face of business for a dozen years or more. Several are self-styled academics.

Why do they believe they can add value to my business? They seem to confuse business insight with common sense. And as we all know, common sense is in desperately short supply.

Do other big manufacturers have to suffer these business advisers and their ‘expertise’? Do they start conversations with the boss of BAE systems, in Barrow-in-Furness, with: “You know what you should do with your submarines?”

For me the joy and pleasure of manufacturing is in the creation of something that is tangible. We start off with a piece of ‘clog’ – a large lump of slate, too heavy to lift – and end up with beautiful lamp bases, pastry boards, house signs and rolling pins.

Every piece looks and feels fabulous. They’re all fashioned with honesty and authenticity.

Sometimes, we even make things that are just too beautiful. They light up our week and fill us with pride. It seems a shame to sell them!

Ours is a life of honest toil. But Britain often loses sight of the virtues of manufacturing. And this pandemic has taught us it is foolish to base our economy solely on services and financial engineering.

So, dear reader, I ask you to embrace British manufacturing in all its forms. Buy our products. Admire their beauty. Appreciate our toil.

In doing so, you will light up your own week – and help celebrate the achievements of people who make something real.

. Brendan Donnelly is MD of CONISTON STONECRAFT, a small manufacturer of high-quality products made from English slate.

CONTACT www.conistonstonecrafts.co.uk


tel: 015394 41236 or 07951236040



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