Andy Stewart


Q. What is your principle professional skill?
A. Well my job’s changed slightly from what it used to be I used to be a workshop joiner in bespoke joining. Now I’m workshop manager, I spend half of my time pricing jobs and going and meeting clients. Today I ended up half the day in the workshop. I’m probably about 50-50; half the time I’m up in the office half the time I’m down here.

Q. Could you tell us a little about it?
A. It’s not like a production line when you get the machines setup, where everything is just put in one end and comes out ready to go the other side. It’s not like that. It’s a lot of hands on joinery here. A lot of thought goes into it. There’s no two things the same. It’s all bespoke … and never the same way as these big factories with their computerised machinery – everything 600mm, 700mm, 800mm, they go up in hundreds whereas we cater for the sizes in between.

Q. How long have you been practising your skill?
A. I’ve been working in the bespoke joinery trade for 25 years.
I was at Banchory Academy and my father was working at a company at Drumoak. So, it was either stay on at school or do an apprenticeship. In my … era that was the thing you did, you either went to college, stayed on at school or you went and did an apprenticeship.  So I just went and worked with my father. I was always interested in joinery and woodwork, I was good at it at school as well and technical drawing … so I went down that route.

Q. In terms of new people coming up through and learning skills – do you take apprentices on?
A. Yes we had two apprentices. Doug is one of them. He just did his skills test last week and he passed … so he’s now qualified.

Q. How long did that take him?
A. Four years … He’s coming on fine. We had another guy who went through his skills test last year and he’s decided to have time out and went to Australia. So he’s taken a year’s visa and gone to Australia. His job’s still here if he comes back.

Q. Can you envisage what it might be like a few years down the line?
A. There’s always going to be people renovating the old buildings… you’ll get clients that will come in and they don’t want … standard things, everybody’s got the same windows, they want something a wee bit different.

Q. Do you think people appreciate what you’re doing here?
A. I would say, like Alistair , my boss, he loves this side of it… he’s doing this renovation over here … and it’s all new houses/ new builds and all we’re doing at the moment is the staircases, so what he’ll often do is take clients into the work shop even if they’re only getting the staircases made. He loves to show people round, and a lot of people are impressed by the stuff we do.  So I think on the whole people do respect what we do and admire it.

Q. What kind of rewards do you get from your skill, monetary and/or otherwise?
A. The best reward is the clients being chuffed with the job you did … being appreciative of what you’ve done.

Q. What impact has broadband and the Internet had on your work – do you use it?
A. Oh yes, all the time. Emails every day. It usually starts with me going to meet the client and discussing what they want, then very often you can confirm things and change details and it’s all done through the Internet.

Q. How do people usually find you?
A. Me, my father and Phil are very well known in Deeside. We’ve all been with different firms … There’s only a certain amount of bespoke workshop joiners in Deeside. Alistair never has to advertise for workshop work. It’s all come through local joiners, local contractors, clients that have had a job done and their neighbors spotted it.

Q. Have you got a web page?
A. Yes, type in AJC Scotland…You’ve got AJC homes and AJC construction, which is the workshop side.

Q. What was your favourite job?
A. My favorite job, well I’m pretty much a stair maker that’s what I did at Banchory Contractors. For three or four years I did nothing else but stairs and every now and again you get a really nice staircase. I did a circular one here, which was one of my favourite jobs.