- Sector: Manufacturing
- Region: Yorkshire and the Humber
The new stone age
J. Rotherham is a family-run business that has become a leader in luxury stone products over the course of 90 years. Based on a former World War II air base in Yorkshire, it mixes the most advanced stone-working technologies with traditional craftsmanship to create exquisite kitchen work surfaces, tables, fireplaces and architectural stone masonry.
An eye for innovation and appreciation of technology has been the cornerstone of the business for many years. The company installed the first stone-working computer numerical control (CNC) machine in the UK in 1988 and the world’s first robotic line for kitchen worktop production in 2017. "Technology is evolving rapidly within the stone industry," says Managing Director Matt Rotherham, the fourth generation of his family to lead the company. "We have seen opportunities to capitalise on new technologies as an aid to traditional craftsmanship."
The growing synergy between man and machine has meant that quality levels have increased substantially, as finished products are now more consistent and reliable than in the past. There have also been some challenges to cope with, though. "We had to let go of 75 of our 145 employees during the recession in 2009 after our largest client went into administration," says Matt. Since then, the company has rebounded in impressive fashion and now employs more than 250 people.
As it looks to the future, the business draws inspiration from a wide range of places. In a nod to the aviation history of its location, the company recently launched its ‘Stealth’ kitchen island, inspired by the angles of the iconic Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter jet. Matt says the business also takes inspiration from Japanese ‘clean water’ philosophy. "Traditionally, Japanese rice farmers have had to be extremely careful not to pass on dirty water to their neighbours, which could devastate the village’s yield," he explains. "We instil a sense of individual responsibility to do the job right, and keep finding ways to continuously improve our performance."