In the current very depressed construction industry, a West of Ireland stone company has managed to carve out a winning niche for itself. It’s all thanks a very simple idea about stone and stonework.
“Up to about two years ago, our business involved traditional cut-stone being put up on Irish houses. That stone is eight inches thick and heavy and hard to work with. One day it just came to me – the stone doesn’t have to be so thick. At eight inch thickness, it’s heavier for the stonemason to work with, more costly for the home-owner to put up, and it also kills space and light around windows and doors,” says Declan Conway, who runs ThinStone Ireland in Westport.
“That’s when I started to think there must be a better alternative.
I did some research on the internet and on the phone and found that a thinner, lighter-weight stone was already the new way in other countries abroad. This was regular sandstone and limestone, but it was cut down into thinner sections to reduce the weight and cost. It is a very simple change in approach, but one which makes a huge difference to our company and more importantly to our customers. ”
“Very soon we were sourcing our own supply of thin stone. We decided to call it ThinStone and we changed our trading name to ThinStone Ireland to reflect this new direction.
ThinStone has really taken off well for us since then, we are keeping busy with orders and growing steadily. We have just recently added a Cork outlet in Mitchelstown and are are looking at setting up another outlet in the midlands.
ThinStone has caught on with home-owners, who are attracted to the prospect of having real stone on their homes without having to use the heavier and more expensive and more awkard traditional stone.
“What really surprises people is when they realise we are producing actual stone. It is one-inch in thickness, and at that thickness they seem to expect it to be a manufactured stone,” explains Declan.
“But once they touch and feel it, they know it is 100 per real cent stone. It is a great option for houses, both inside and outside. Walls, entrances and stone facing of porches and extensions are our regular type of work.
“Other growing parts of our business are fireplaces and chimney breasts behind stoves.”
“We now have a wide variety of stone finishes and mixes of colour, so people can select the look they want for their home.”
ThinStone has also won wide approval for the benefits it brings in lighter weight to many long-suffering stonemasons.
“This lightweight stonework solution is far easier on the lower back, and will result in less lower back pain for stonemasons in the long term,” said Westport-based Chartered Physiotherapist, Mary Walsh.
ThinStone’s range of products can be viewed on www.thinstoneireland.ie.