A “tree-to-table” woodworking company is upping sticks and moving from Edinburgh to near Grantown in July, with the aim of doubling its workforce to 20 people.
Angus+Mack manufactures staircases and fitted interiors, sawmilling and seasoning its own timber from local sources.
The “tree-to-table” idea means logs are bought from sustainably managed forests.
For the removal of more than five tonnes of timber, a felling licence is required – obtained from the Forestry Commission – to ensure a re-planting plan is in place.
Company owner Malcolm Mack (business partner Julian Angus left in 2015) is originally from the Black Isle.
After looking at a variety of sites he plumped for a former Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) building in Grantown.
“We have been looking for some time to move up north,” Mr Mack said, adding: “When Covid hit I decided I would ask the team if they fancied it.”
New location is ‘plug and play’
“It was very much dependent on the team moving with me. A few of them have got links to the Highlands.
“We have totally outgrown the workshop we are currently in, and it was becoming stifling to the growth of the business.
“My lease was coming to an end this year and I didn’t want to sign a new one on a building I couldn’t really develop.”
Mr Mack also looked at properties in Invergordon, Aviemore and Elgin, but “the stars aligned” for the former HIE site, which will cater for both domestic and commercial buildings throughout the UK.
“It is pretty much plug and play – ready to go – and a well-laid out unit for us to work in,” he added.
Staff numbers due to double
“We are looking for cabinet-makers and some office staff. We are looking to double numbers in the next three years so we should be up to 18-20 people.
“We have always struggled to meet demand – now more than ever – and we are now at the point of quite significant growth.
“We have a few large contracts on the horizon up in the Highlands. They are for some of the larger estates and there is significant commitment from them to use our services.”
Angus+Mack is in the process of trying to secure funding through HIE, although this would be focused on expanding the business rather than relocation costs.
“They have certainly shown an interest in helping us – we are going through the motions of that process,” added Mr Mack.
The business is debt free apart from a standard commercial mortgage, he said.
HIE provides range of support
HIE strategy and regional economy director Martin Johnson said: “We are pleased to support any business considering the Highlands and Islands as a location.
“We know many are attracted to the region’s workforce and collaborative ethos.
“Working alongside potential investors, we provide one-door access to a range of support from across the public sector, including information and advice, location and property searches, introductions to recruitment agents and academia, and training links.
“Depending on the nature of the business and the proposed investment project, financial support may also be available.”
Around 90% of Angus+Mack work is domestically focused
HIE can help with up to 30% of investment costs – which can cover any work to the building, any new machinery, or staffing costs and training.
Around 90% of Angus+Mack’s business is domestically focused – aimed at those looking to create “forever homes, the dream home,” but the business has also worked for distilleries, public spaces and galleries, as well as Rosslyn Chapel – given a blaze of publicity from the Da Vinci Code film.
The woodworking company has previously taken on two apprentices and Mr Mack is keen to recruit more once the move to Grantown is complete.
Despite the Cairngorms being primarily focused on tourism as a source of employment, Mr Mack feels strongly “you need more eggs in your basket” for the area to diversify its economy.
He added: “Small companies like ours potentially bring quite a lot to the table in terms of broadening the industry that is there.”
Most of Angus+Mack’s employees are under 35 but nonetheless keen on a move to the Highlands.
“They have had their fill of the city to a certain extent,” Mr Mack added.