It is not often in todays society, that we find a man who truly embodies his name. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition for steel, both noun and verb, are indicative of Craig. Hard, strong, and made of many elements; used widely for structure and fabrication; and to mentally prepare oneself, to do or face something difficult.
SHF was founded in 2005 with the help of Megan Steel, wife of Craig. Starting off from humble beginnings, Craig could be found at the back of the small Sutherlands on Chapel Street, hard working to restore furniture beyond their original beauty. Determination has brought SHF to where it is today. Vintage items are threaded through his Galleries, conveying what can only be known as an SHF way of thinking, an ethos that is deeply embedded in staff and colleagues that support Craig’s vision.
A lover of architecture, the SHF Galleries stand as land marks, a living manifestation of one man’s ability. The Founding Visionary and Leader is more than a furniture retailer, holding deeds to all SHF properties and subsidiaries of the Mattland Group, as a diversified property developer, Craig ensures that everything is kept in a close proximity. This business model makes for a man who is involved, alert and able to interact on a personal level. His demeanour is that of a man on a mission, there is an air of mystery to Craig’s charismatic personality. Creativity seeps from his pores, exchanges of ideas are fast paced and regular, the only constant is change.
By keeping a good circle of people around him to maintain that the SHF brand grows into an international powerhouse, Craig sees the necessity of good relations with local suppliers, all of whom he works with closely, with a hands on approach, the perfectionist within him secures only the most exceptional for SHF.
The man behind the entrepreneur has a penchant for meeting people who inspire him to be better, an explorer and avid fan of textures and colours. An enthusiast of fine wines, good food and vintage cars. Craig carries himself with pride and an astute sense of the future, by stepping forward to set trends and cement SHF as the leaders of the furniture industry within South Africa.
An artisan by birth, a creator by definition, and a success by determination.
“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of an artisan’s soul” – Craig Steel
There’s a looming fear in society today, that one day, the machines we’ve created to assist us and improve our lives, will become overlords, there are those who understand the impossibility of this, those who know that there will always be a man behind the machine.
Rikesh takes his work home with him, not the large pieces of offcuts, or carved designs that roll off the CNC machine, hardly ever do you meet someone whose passion runs so fevering that his hobby is one that emulates his day to day tasks. Enjoy what you do, and you will never work a day in your life. Rikesh is a studious man, spending his time in a sparse office, surrounded by the homely smell of freshly cut wood, contrasted by the ever present sound of saw mills and staple guns.
Ricky is a quiet man, there’s an intuit manner to him, protractors and stainless steel rulers sitting a top a large drawing, painstakingly sketched out by hand. For a man of his stature, there is no sense of intimidation, but that of someone who’s dealt with far more than his jovial smile and wise crack jokes would care to reveal. A father of two, his arms are adorned in ink, the tattoos are a reminder of his children and wife which he proudly displays. The old book shelf behind his espresso coloured chair, his frame stencilled into the leather, parades family photos. His laptop lays closed, a clutch pencil is huddled next to a few bolts and screws that have scattered themselves on his desk. Amongst the organized chaos ensuing outside his doors, there’s solitude within his environment, a lone wolf with the temperance of a sheep. Rikesh is a straight forward man, his circle of friends remain close due to him taking a while to warm up to new acquaintances. The Design & Development Leader has unbiased respect for his fellow workers and staff, all of whom know, to he who gives respect, receives respect. Content in his position, the man who’s come from making his own inventions, to now seeing the gargantuan CNC machine breathing life into his brain child is inspiring. Everyday, his thoughts become possibilities and these possibilities into a tangible reality. The aura of peace that resonates from him is explanatory of a man whose only limit is the sky, yet must be reminded that he is capable of touching Heaven. Eager to learn, the analyst in him breaks down everything into minute details, until there is no possibility for error.
There’s a look of admiration as he commands the CNC machine, a tape measure permanently strapped to his belt much like a personal accessory, the world slips away as he inputs data, waiting for the birth of the inanimate object he has breathed life into. His hands are held firmly alongside the screen, the nervous swinging of his arms that tends to accompany Rikesh dissipates. A master in his element, reverent and passionately in love with what he does lost in a world that belongs to him alone. The crash of an offcut being harshly discarded doesn’t jolt him, moving only to tend to his CNC. The keys unlocking the heart of it, Ricky carefully checks, before drifting back into his comfort zone.
Standing behind the helm of this colossus, Rikesh is a reminder, that not only are we capable of doing what the machines we created do, but that they are lifeless without a humane touch. The modern man is more than what meets the eye, maybe he is the man behind the machine, and more likely, is that he is the machine. The bicentennial man incarnate.
"By creating and drawing in my mind, my sense of purpose is realised" - Rikesh Mahabeer
We were always told as children never to play with sharp objects and fire, the good children obeyed this instruction, whilst others knew that by rebelling, aside consequence, they would discover the answers to their most profound questions. Mark Kelman is that child.
There’s a smell of acetone at Kelwood, the machinery sending vibrations through the concrete floor as sunlight seeps through the garage slated window. Mark shuffles back and forth between his workers, meticulously checking all is in order. There is a reverence for him that his subordinates hold, looking to him as a mentor. A welding helmet, emblazoned with airbrushed pistons churning mid-stroke, sit on a work bench.
Leaning forward, dirt marks marring his face, his lanky frame covered in loose fitting jeans and a black t shirt, Mark focuses as he grinds the metal, concentrating as light shrapnel’s around him. There is a stoic nature to him, one of resilience and a mild stubbornness, of a man set strongly in his ways, he looks up only for his eyes to meet his wife Cheryl, a smile creeps along his face and there seems to be peace. His workspace is that of a boy whose room is cluttered with knickknacks. Wire hangs tamely from racks on the wall, contrasted by the array of sculpted metal that lies sporadically on the floor. He works his way through the chaos with ease, as if a path is laid out that only he can see.
Mark is a hardworking man, accustomed to farm life as a boy, being hands on always took precedence to academics, proving that the convention of being an office jockey is the only way to success is mistaken. His office is small. Enclosed in cement, there are designs pinned to a board, scrawled in rough. Reminiscing as he talks he relays his tale of becoming the artisan and the metal man he is today. From humble beginnings in a garage to running the growing business that is Kelwood.
Mark Kelman is the boy standing in front of the Iron Giant, eyes large and lost in wonder, the endless possibilities of the world lying at the feet of the gargantuan, stepping forward and ascending it, leading it forward at his command. Strong headed and unrelenting in his vision of proving that anything is possible, that the boy with a dream has emerged as the Metal Man.
“It is hard work that translates into my metal, hard work hardens us to be strong enough to accomplish anything” – Mark Kelman
The marble sculpted figures of angels and saints that adorn parishes sit quietly. Vigilant as they watch the mulling of the streets go about, always alert, always protecting.
Tish is a complex person, the dualities of someone whom is a perfectionist, occasionally revelling in the idiosyncrasies of life. There is laughter in her smile as she looks at the world around her, absorbed by every breeze and flutter of falling leaves. Looking at her it’s not hard to reminisce on school text books heralding the exploits of Mother Teresa and the tenderness of Princess Diana, speckled with the tenacity of Queen Elizabeth I.
A devoted wife and mother of one, who is always juggling emotions and lending an ear to the woes of staff as she does her utmost best to console the disheartened. It’s a far cry from her start as an attorney, circled by stiff courtroom walls to the embrace of people seeking guidance within the growing brand of SHF. Tish has an innate sense of responsibility toward her fellow man as well as the needs of the entire group. It seems unthinkable that the small physique of Tish is the hard woman standing against riotous staff, commanding order and respect.
Selflessness is a trait lost in a modern day world, and amongst this, Tish stands guardian, radiating an exuberance that is unparalleled. She places the needs of the many above her own. It is inexplicable that a woman as young as her holds the wisdom of a generation that has long passed. She bridges the gap of modern day heroine and centuries old saint. Her green eyes, flecked with dashes of a shade of azure blue and tentative twitch of a smile that betray her, there must be a heaviness that the title of Head HR Leader bares. She is a Diana on the balcony with Charles, shy and slightly nervous as the crowd below look on in awe and wonder, expectant of her fulfilling their dreams. Incognitive of the fighter that lies shrouded behind the flurry of pearlesque dress.
Behind all of this, is a woman, determined and sharp tongued, strong minded and decisive, even as she weighs the scales of right and wrong, yet tender and caring, a contrast of someone who has seen the worst whilst attempting to do better. She is able to be saint and sinner, empathetic and pragmatic, a coin teetering on the edge of heads or tails. There will come a time where we will find ourselves seeking solace in the arms of people like Tish.
When everything has gone awry and we are unsure of what to do, there they will be the statuesque angels and saints, the ones that give reverently without asking of anything in return. Tish is the living incarnation of these watchers of the world. She is the guardian.
"Making a mark on someone’s life, is to make a mark on their future." - Tish Moldenhauer
The misconception that the clothes make the man is exerted unto many of us, maybe in days gone by this reigned true. Kings regaled in the best attire, laden with layer after layer of silks and cashmeres, made painstakingly by a man gentle with his hands and strong of conviction in providing a piece of himself in the hands of someone who might not fully comprehend his craft.
Junaid stares at the petrol blue velvet, the colour glistens and seems luminous for it’s absence of a definitive shade of black. His hands are steady as he plunges the needle into the cushioned and fabric coated frame of the colossal Earl sofa. His body perched on the seat while it balances almost weightlessly in front of him. There is a deep focus as his hands work, in this moment he resembles Christian Barnard in surgery. He is Da Vinci in his third year of perfecting the Mona Lisa, more so he is the tailor to the Emperor’s New Clothes that Hans Christiaan Anderson had envisioned, weaving magic with his touch.
There is a relaxed nature to the man who heads Dean’s Upholstery, working closely with his wife his 2-year-old daughter can be found shuffling about the expanse of his workshop. Staff members are dotted sporadically around the cleanly space; frames are stacked like Jenga against a wall whilst seamstresses busy themselves with the day’s tasks. His office sits at the far end and the garage door lets shadows dance on the concrete floor, he continues deep buttoning the imposing piece of furniture.
A skill learned by sight, touch and feel. Beginning at a young age, the heir to a long run family of true artisans, upholstery is stitched in his life just as his veins are woven through his body. His arm tenses and the defined muscles of the recreational gym fanatic show themselves, it’s a stark contrast due to his jovial and timid nature. He pours forth a slew of jokes as he takes a break, wiping his brow, eyebrow cocked, he examines his work. The scissors are grabbed in a swift motion and loose ends snipped, hands moving in a rhythmic motion as the dance between a man and his love ensues. His workers assist him in a resemblance of telepathy, no words are passed but there is a deep rooted understanding of what is needed to help a 4th generation legend tailor make a true piece of future history.
Junaid is a rarity. Carrying the dreams of people who made his craft viable whilst passing on knowledge from decades passed, perfected by his ancestry. The tailor is more than a stitcher of fabrics but a man who is a maker of creations we could not comprehend, made with respect, tradition and a touch of magic that we forgot had even existed.
"Life cannot be tailor-made but true craft can, by tailor making the things I love, I tailor make life." - Junaid Hamid
In a country such as South Africa, the word comfort is synonymous with a variety of things, to the layman, fabric softener would come up as a common choice, Gordon is a depiction of such a versatile product. It takes much to break down the stringency of hardened fabrics and maintain the luxury of fleeces. There is a saying, “The same water that softens the potato, boils the egg”, it is not whom Gordon is, but the resoluteness he is made of.
Faded denim straight cut jeans that he has had for years sit relaxed on his imposing frame, a hearty laugh escapes him and a joke that is most probably not suitable for work hours slips out. Gordon Beard is a jolly man, despite the ragged bags that perch under his dark eyes. Whilst most people are in the lull of a comatose sleep, Gordon toils away, mornings start more or less the same, a brisk ride along dusty roads. The jolt of pain from his collarbone a reminder that some falls are harder to get up from than others, although decommissioned for a debilitating six weeks, he would never let his passion for not only his job but his staff, suffer. The Production Leader of Comfy Lounge, is dedicated and can be found flurrying about, pulling late night shifts and standing up for his workers – the respect that is endowed him by the boisterous factory is testament to his unfailing ethic.
Until recently, Gordon was a pendulum, managing two factories successfully, a strong willed wife and two young children, it’s a remarkable site to see, the ease with which he drifts into various roles and still makes time to pursue mountain biking and the odd lashing on the squash court – Gordon, at face value, is intimidating, but his hearty voice and genuine concern for all of the members of Mattland betrays him, couple a rebellious concertation with a mouldable heart, you find yourself in the presence of a complex simplicity. The intelligence exuded is subtle, undermined by wit, splashes of sarcasm and male bravado, positioning him to encourage those around him to sometimes output superhuman results, maybe this is the essence of a comforter.
Gordon is multifarious and forever changing, a fluidity similar to fabric snaking against the storm, and should you ever have him in the same place for long enough, then you would be able to peer into the rarity of the paradigm that he is, both strong and weak simultaneously, like watching opposites become intertwined. Gordon is more than a simple couch man, more than a body seated on a bike two sizes too slim for him, more than a father, more than Reeves on his first flight, more than just manager, he is encouragement personified, the shot of whiskey to calm shattered nerves, the hug to a child that has fallen, he is the comforter.
"My comfort zone begins at the start of a challenge, true comfort can only come from surpassing the things we find most uncomfortable" – Gordon Beard
A progressive movement is the only life that the cartilaginous fish knows, dating back to some 450 million years ago, before we crawled onto land and grew spines, there was evidence of sharks, the graceful brutes with a stern focus of going one way and one way only, forward, and upward, at any cost. Transporting their lustre coated bodies toward a vision and purpose that we are too feeble to know of.
Zayne sits behind his desk, the distribution centre moves along in a consistency that is a dystopian view of the Midlands. His sleeves rolled up, his focused eyes darting from a multitude of notes that are strewn on his desk a few feet away from a framed picture of his wife and sons. A sharp look up out the windows of his office lays racks of product and in the distance, darted by the shuffle of a group of workers who hold him in reverie, sits a fleet of vehicles, each tasked to go their separate ways only to return to embark on the same journey, all over again.
Zayne is the man’s man. Simplistic, earnest, and respectful, there are no two ways with the decisive dictator who has a firm belief that there is no grey, but simply black and white, acceptance and approval are not sought after from a person who is genuine in all his doings. He has the poise of a lumberjack yet could quite admirably fit into the next Gentleman’s Quarterly. There’s an old school way about the silvering man, his bellowing voice churning vernacular to staff as he instructs, yet still imparts knowledge that has come from his 9 plus year stint at the helm of the distribution centre that get SHF products into customers homes.
If you’ve perchanced setting your viewing on The Transporter, it could be easy to compare the caricature to the man, He is proud and wrought with tradition, morals, values and the occasional satire of a soul born in the 1920’s and forced to live life out in an era of miscreants and technology, making him without a doubt standout from the rest. It’s a rarity to bring tradition modestly into a new world, and Zayne does it with the eloquence of a Great White swimming amongst Hammer Heads, always moving forward, regardless of the obstacles that may surround him.
“If you take care of the trivial things, the things of importance will always fall into place”
– Zayne Symons, Distribution Leader
There is an age old practice of strong men being weavers, creating hand made goods with tensile strength. Nations across the world have passed on this tradition with fervour to maintain the heritage and skill that was overwrought by powered looming.
Craig McAllister runs a tight ship, his factory and showroom in the heart of Umhlali is a vision of clinical precision, the rafters have a bright tinge of fire truck red and the walls are covered in a bright white coat of paint providing a stark contrast. Departments are separated into neat segments, with workers busying themselves with a chorus of chatter as they tend to their various tasks. Zulu women can be found weaving in a relaxed manner as the sea breeze quenches the dry heat whilst the sound of waters lap at the earth.
Craig is a “can do” type of man and much like the polycane they use to make some of their products, stretches himself to the full extent of his capabilities, from manager of Macalli to a worker who is studious in passing on knowledge, to a staff that he is not ashamed to tension up if need be. The stately man with tensed arms, his silvering hair and urban metro style has a subdued tone to his face, a smile mixed with an edge of laughter escapes as he becomes focused. It’s a juxtaposition of a man who was brought into steep regiment during his time in the army and remains respectful with an assurity of someone who has learned lessons that life can only give.
The father of two boys expects a level of excellence that extends outside of his working hours instilling fortification in all they do, from sports through to academics and is enthusiastically involved. Craig is the man who has been in the furniture business since he departed from school and joined the family business, taking the reigns. He stands strong, confidently rooting himself as his hands weave at an alarming speed, grappling at the wicker polycane, manoeuvring it in astonishing ways. The motion mirrors his versatility, over his many years as a manufacturer and salesman.
Craig is more than a weaver, picking up the skill in the early months after Y2k and running forward with ambition and a dream to make a truly unique mark on a part of the industry that does not value a standard that is par none. His jump from aluminium and timber work to the artisan craft of weave, was something that was inspired by the locals, whilst his father, whose dream was for his son to be a lawyer, is just a son that dreamed of being like his dad.
We weave ourselves into things and people and Craig is a clear testament to this, intertwined with the simplicities that life has to offer and by doing so empowers not only himself, but a legacy that will live on for many years to come. Carrying on a tradition and making it his own in a modernism that fits itself into an ever changing world, it is clear that a constant reinvention, passion and will of steel are the foundation for remaining loomed into the rhythm of infinity.
“We are woven by our experiences, like shaping strands into something tangible that is not merely different, but which also makes a difference” - Craig McAllister
There’s beauty in the way buildings are designed, a controlled anarchy. Colossal iron and stone structures, straightened and contorted, on the precipice of falling, imbued with enough figures and calculations, for it to remain entirely logical. These juxtapositions, we drive past, work in, die in, build memories in. All brainchild’s of a someone we most probably do not know.
The Visual Architect of SHF is boisterous; encounters with Shay seem different each time. Grace Kelly meets Marilyn. Amelia Earhart meets Rosa Parks. Shay seems incarnate of all of them, ethereal in the way she slips to and fro. Her mind is based in ideas and fluidity that most can’t see, all whilst being grounded on this plane. Her eye’s run over almost everything, taking in how to improve it, to clear up wasted space, for a clean and clutterless environment, sometimes to the degree of obsession. There’s a notable influence that Shay exudes, the quiet player at the black jack table, holding all the cards, whilst everyone assumes she’ll be the first to fold.
As a female, in a predominantly male industry, the fighter within her surfaces more often than not, quick witted and sharp tongued. Shay is no push over, maintaining an honesty that is rare to find today. Her free spirited demeanour and infectious laugh mask her intelligence. There’s a feeling that she’s been victim to being the underdog more than once, and relishes in the victory. The word “No” is not one found within her vocabulary. There are can’s and can do’s.
Her office is a mishmash of creativity and logic. A pin board with inspiration alongside a bookcase of Decorator books, a bowl with business cards, an empty wine glass and greenery seated adjacent her vintage modern desk. This space is a representation of her. Soft colours and textures intermingled with hardened edges. It’s no surprise that her presence can be overwhelming, and if one did not know better, she could be likened to Anna Wintour. This mother of 3 is the all-encompassing modern woman. Well learned, travelled, independent and above all an equal to be reckoned with.
There is a softness behind the 50 shades of Shay, a shyness, or an aura of knowing that we are, because of others. Her consideration for her subordinates and colleagues seems unnecessary, yet, she does so with reverence. This zen like quality, permeating and spreading. She encourages calmness amongst the chaos that ensues within her Design & Marketing Quarters. Freshly renovated to fill the gap of constraining cohesive ideas, walls knocked down and an open area makes for an open-door policy. Amongst her desire for a symbiotic team, is her own unrelenting perseverance.
Discussions are almost always focused upon the well-being of the SHF brand, by initiating the absurd at times; resulting in what always comes out as a masterfully considered concept, originating from a place we dare not tread. Shay brings the best out of people, tapping into the self’s they tend to fear, it’s a tactic that requires care and attention. Shay is always on the move, it seems the only way is forward. The tail coats of her Burbury trenchcoat dance and sway whimsically to a melody of their own as she zooms passed on an important call, the sound of a flirtatious “Hey Doll”, echoing as she carries on with business.
Shay is quintessentially, the heart of SHF. Sometimes doubted, sometimes wrong, caring, strong, attentive, willing, beating on. Her personality is only matched by her intellect and impeccable style. There’s a paradigm to which Shay views the world, sequential and erratic, blazing hot and frigidly cold, and somehow, it is this co-operative within her, the adaptability, that contributes to the ongoing success of her, and ultimately, what makes her the architect of her own destiny, and more so, a masterful woman, amongst men.
“Between imagination and reality, is the space within which our dreams dare to dance.” - Shay Stark
As children, we would attempt in vanity, to pin down our parents, large in stature and power, reminiscent of holding a gauging torrent of water, hoping the flow would not escape. Paul is much like that, uncontainable.
It would be futile to confine Paul to a singularity, much like assuming the multiverse we inhabit remains the only one, denying the billions upon billions of possible versions of the lives we know to be untrue. Frankly, calling the MD of Mattland Holdings one thing borders on absurdity. It's hard to find a man of a humble nature with an innate ability to encompass so many roles and facets, balancing risk and reward is a norm for the wry joked man. Paul is a focused being that expects excellence, his keen eye, nose and sharp wit are testament to that, every morning, before the break neck speed and bustle of a growing empire, Paul walks into the offices of his staff to bode them a good morning, carrying a leather satchel, a smile and what is tantamount to the days pearl of wisdom.
As a newly married man, his relationship with his wife, spanning five years is as long as his tenure at SHF, watching it grow from infancy, Paul has poured heart and determination into not just a successful venture, but a shared dream of a friend. There is a cool gant to his walk, confident in what he does, the polymath may be many things, and as such, takes fallacy as a stepping stone to greater heights. Watching Paul is witnessing a trained pitbull, whose instinct is relentless, there is no backing down. From brokering deals to involving himself in the minute parts of others life, his genuine interest and concern are only matched by his raw tenacity. Balancing being both good cop and bad cop.
It would be easy to buckle under the pressure, but as an avid runner and athlete, it's a driving force behind what he does, regardless of ideals, opinions and scepticism, there is a calm reassurance of someone who is truly comfortable with who he is, with the knowledge that all the other things are past times and added extras to a life filled with morality and value.
Paul McCabe doesn't need a fancy title or the adage of what most believe makes the man. Success is the ability to assess and change, and he does so with an ease. The world is made up of so many people, parading as people, that when we stumble towards the likes of men such as him, defining and understanding becomes blurred, but that is the beauty of not being truly able to comprehend, accepting and trusting, much like we did as children, listening to stories of myth.
The 9 tasks set to Hercules were meant to deter and destroy him, his credibility and given ability, yet, each time he adapted and used more than strength to overcome them. Paul McCabe is a modern day Hercules, a mixture of humanity and supernatural prowess. Even amongst the on goings of life, we can take solace in knowing, that there are those who walk among us, as protectors and heroes, keeping score and balancing the weights we were always afraid to lift, even when they were lighter than we ever knew.
"We are incapable of truly controlling everything, and are only guided by our own sense of self. By portraying the truest versions of ourselves, we encourage those who look up to us to do the same." – Paul McCabe
There is awe and wonder within the hands of a carpenter. Shaping true magic out of discarded woods, revealing something spectacular. The feeling of joy as Pinocchio inhaled his first breath, a twinkle dancing in his carved eyes as Geppetto sits back to admire his work, a time withstanding piece of his legacy.
Byron is a daunting man, towering above as he confidently walks about. A cool shirt, khaki shorts that would hang deftly on someone of a smaller stature and steel tipped boots. His handshakes are filled with strength and a sense of respect. A smile curved on his lips as a hefty laugh escapes from his deepened hoarse throat. The son of an accomplished carpenter and cabinet maker, Byron is a stark contrast from his father, who gleams with pride as he speaks of his successor. It’s hard to imagine the young boy from Newcastle running around the factory on weekends and gaining skills as early as the age of six, turning a hobby into a soaring business.
Byron glows as he speaks of his marriage, 2 years in and there is a proudness of the achievement whilst his father jests at the waiting of a grandchild. The family business, located at the end of a dusty road, dotted with gravel, hidden behind an expanse of lush grass and wide spread trees in the bloom of summer, lead up to a small factory they have recently purchased, the smell of wood chips and sound of band saws permeate the air, dust floats down as the expanse of workers complete their tasks. Pieces of thick wood and oak are cast around in sporadic piles mixed with the incense of a relaxed atmosphere, allowing him to attend to the nitty gritty details that keep the engine running.
The former professional rugby player left the sport in 2010 after a career ending injury, leaving a passion behind and taking the helm of something that would turn out to be much greater than he could have ever imagined. Growing into what it is today, M & V was relatively small and partnering with SHF had gained traction for a larger output, opening his eyes to the possibilities that lay ahead for them. There is wisdom that is beguiled behind the tentative lisp, well spoken words and gained knowledge. Byron understands the development of not just a work place but also of his staff, a man who works side by side with them and involves them in the decisions that ultimately affect their well-being, something not done by most, revealing a trusting and genteel spirit.
The footpaths we take are a series of choices and options, Byron’s maturity and duty to his family, brought him not only success but purpose in keeping values and an inheritance handed down from artisans who blended practicality with the intrigue of art. It is with soul and the simple trade of carpentry that he has built his own fate.
“Our destiny may be carved from chance, but is ultimately built from our choice.” - Byron Egan
Have you ever watched a storm ensue? Bashing and hurtling nature around, showing its prowess and strength, only for the sun to peak through the darkened clouds. The rays caressing the earth as it greets the world, flowers dance in admiration, waving lazy “hellos”. Amongst all of this stands a tree, rooted deeply, its branches extending out in an embrace. The solid structure, weathered and wise. This is Craig Walker.
It’s not hard to imagine a young Craig merrily playing with a hand carved box car, the wobble of the wheels as it hurtles over the floor boards. Woodwork is a love that was ingrained in him, the heritage passed down from his dad. The irony of the master now being trained by the student, as his father graciously works by his side to ensure the growth of CSL Manufacturing. The Woodsman has an ease about him. Crafting pieces with care, his focus is attentive as he works. Accuracy and speed aid him as a man who is well versed in this industry, the touch of an artisan breathing life into a lifeless block of fallen tree.
His 5 o’clock shadow doesn’t mar the glimmer in his eyes and boisterous voice as he answers his phone, the white of his knuckles showing as he grips the rugged case and quickly attends to business, a smile creeps upon his face and he steels his focus at the tasks waiting for him.
With an employ of 11 staff, Craig’s dream has grown, from a spontaneous trip to England leading him to spend 10 years in the country, his business of Sash windows had put him in good stead. The arrival of his now 7-year-old twins brought him back home. The family orientated man has no regrets, and revels in bringing his children up in an environment that he is accustomed to. Newly acquiring land the expansion of the CSL factory is on the cards, machinery is constantly being purchased and a man who is not only wise, and for all intents and purposes, a wise cracker, has a practicality that sees a streamlining of processes, proof of a sharp mind, that is eager to move forward, even whilst being firmly rooted.
The report that is held with his staff echoes the values of a man who is entrenched in the DNA of family, and of friendships that match that. Beyond the hardened hands, the relaxed attire and laid back aura, is a jovial man. Whose silence and outbursts all tell a story. Written deeply by trials and shaped by desire, Craig Walker is the love carved in the bark of an ageing oak, displayed for all to see, all it takes is a glance to discover the heart of a Woodsman.
“Life is reflected in the grain of wood. The ups and downs, tears and laughter
are all poured into it. A story we’ve all seen, that’s waiting to be read.” - Craig Walker