Over the last few weeks we conducted a series of case studies with clients who bring ethical, localised manufacturing to the forefront of their businesses. This week we speak to Burgon and Ball, which was founded in Sheffield in 1730. The business originally catered to the sheep and agricultural market and later moved into gardening. They are the only garden tool manufacturers to be endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Can you tell me a bit about Burgon and Ball, and where the idea for the business came from?
The business grew out of the Sheffield steel working industry, which has been known for its skills in knives and steel since the 14th century. The business was founded in 1730 and started out by making sheep shears. It went on catering to that market and it had a big boost in the 1860s when a new design was patented that made a much stronger, lighter shear.
We’ve always been in Sheffield, moving to our current factory in Malin Bridge in 1873, where we are still currently based. In the 20th century the farming largely moved to electric shearing, but as more people acquired property and started to garden, there were new opportunities, so we moved more into gardening. We still make the patented designs for shears from 1865 and they’re still used as sheep shears, but we also sell them as extremely effective Topiary shears and that’s probably what we’re best known for. Those shears are still made in the 1865 design and made in Sheffield.
So heritage is a really big part of your company?
It is, yes, absolutely. We’ve got people who’ve been with us for over forty years making shears, and they’re still there today. We value the traditional way of doing things. We haven’t changed the shear design since 1865, it’s achieved optimal performance then, and it still does today.
Do you think your customers really appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into making your product?
Yes I do. The goods are very high quality but also I think people want to support British industry when they can, they want to tap into that unbroken heritage back to our agricultural past. It really does build on the tradition; the fact that it’s never stopped production and it’s never changed.
What are you most proud of?
We’re probably proudest of our association with the Royal Horticultural Society. The majority of our tools are indorsed by the RHS. The endorsement was put in place in 2012, and they endorse a wide range, many of our collections, garden tools, Topiary shears and gift ranges. The Topiary shear which we use Stitchedboxes to package is endorsed by the RHS, so that’s something that we are very proud of. We are the only garden tool to be endorsed by the RHS and work closely with them on many of our tools.
Your Experience With Stitched Boxes
What features do you love most about Stitchedboxes?
The fact that they are available in our bespoke colour, they are produced to a specific colour requirement, so that’s obviously a great bonus for us. They’re lightweight so they’re easy to ship, but they still have that robustness – they stand up to being knocked about when they’re being shipped and arrive in good condition. They’re made to our exact size specification and it’s ideal.
Would you recommend us to other businesses?
Absolutely; Stitchedboxes adds a lot to the presentation of a premium range, and without a doubt it can add value to many other types of product, too.