The future of Ailsa Wood products in Old Dailly is in safe hands after Bob Kelman officially handed over the business on Tuesday morning.
Bob is retiring after 35 years at the helm of the firm which specialises in manufacturing rustic oak tubs and water features using the wood from old whisky barrels.
He has handed the business over to Rainbridge, a Derbyshire based timber specialist but who have very close connections to the area.
Their sales director Scott Wilson is from Girvan and he has lived in the town all his days and has been a director of Girvan Youth Trust. His son Matt has also come on board to take on the day to day running of the business.
They are set to be assisted by Rainbridge’s finance director Martin Williams and purchasing manager Jeremy Williams as they aim to build on Bob’s product.
Speaking exclusively to the Gazette at the site on Tuesday, Bob said: “I started this up in 1980 and 35 years is a long time spent building the product up to what it is today.
“Yes, I’m looking forward to retirement but it will certainly be different as this is what I’ve known.
“These guys have got a great opportunity here to build upon a great product which is known not just in this country but in places across the world.
“It really is a great team here and they’ll be getting employees here who are committed; some have been here for over 30 years.
“The jobs are all being protected and I’m confident these guys can take Ailsa Wood back to what it was like at its peak.”
Scott Wilson said: “When I spoke to my colleagues at Rainbridge, we saw an opportunity here to take on what was already a very good business with a great product and the terrific Ailsa Wood brand.
“What we’re doing here is looking to build on the work done by Bob and to build the business in the long term.
“I worked in sawmills all my days and I bring that experience of working in the timber trade to Ailsa Wood.
“We’re not about a faddy product here; there’s no point in doing something today if it’s not going to be there tomorrow.
“It’s already been busy this morning with orders coming in.
“What people should realise is there is still a lot of industry; we still have FMC, Nestle, Grants, Land Energy and we’ll look to use that.
“The priorities are to build the business and ensure we have the products out there for our customer base for the spring coming in in terms of the planters and oak tubs.
“We have a phenomenal workforce who have a very unique set of skills and hopefully we’ll be able to expand that workforce in the future.
“We are really excited about this and it is a great opportunity.
Bob added: “These are guys who keep their feet on the ground, they aren’t thinking with their heads in the sky and although I’ve only met them a few times I know they are good guys who will take the business forward.”
Martin Williams, the finance director added: “Long-term there is more than enough scope to double the current workforce of seven.
“Down at our plant in Derbyshire we work on a 100 mile radius so when you look at Ailsa Wood that would take in Glasgow and further beyond so there is great potential here to grow.”
Ailsa Wood Products will continue to trade under that name and the current workforce have all been kept on under the new management.