What can we say about Quails? This family run, Usk based business has class and quality running through its veins. Quails is renowned for its kitchens but there’s much, much more to this great independent business. Owners Drew and Sian spill the beans…
Drew, can you tell us where your creative spark began?
I took an interest in woodwork at the age of 12, on my grandfather’s lathe – he was a French polisher and upholsterer. From there I started turning wooden bowls and foot stools from local driftwood. Then, as I could use a lathe, I was encouraged by my woodwork teacher, Mr Lovitt at Caerleon School, who became a huge influence for me and I fell in love with joinery. This lead to my first (and only) job with a local shop fitters which lasted just six months, as I left to start my own business.
How have you grown your business to where it is today?
Our furniture business was launched in 1979, when I was 17, and the business grew with a multitude of projects; designing, making and installing. This required employing extra hands and it was then that I met Sian, who took a keen interest in the business as she had an art/design background. Sian very quickly became a valuable asset and joined the business full time. Hence work became a love rather than a chore, and still is today! As our business has developed, and we’ve employed a number of specialists, it’s allowed each of us to focus on our core strengths. I was able to concentrate more on the design aspect, and as a result we opened our Usk showroom in 2002. More recent improvements have seen us develop a second workshop enabling us to produce whatever we need in house, with an eye on quality at all times. This has allowed our business to flourish and we always re-invest by employing an apprentice every year.
We know that you’re renowned for your award winning kitchens, do you take on other projects?
Yes, we have a dedicated, multi-skilled workforce in our two workshops and they love the challenge of bespoke commissions. We produce complete bedrooms, libraries and wine cellars, studies, walk-in wardrobes, cinemas, dining rooms, boot rooms, swimming pool areas, halls and bespoke individual pieces of free standing furniture. Our specialist joinery department produces stairs, windows, doors and we’re currently constructing a wooden car.
What inspires your creativity?
I’m inspired by what is around me. I always see the beauty in creations and admire attention to detail. This has become even more important with the use of the internet. Every project has to start with a pencil and a pad; then a sketch drawing is produced before any electronic drawings. One of my main inspirations is the actual client, visiting them at home and sharing their passion and ideas at the very beginning of each commission. This releases the drive to supply the best quality product for realising our clients dreams.
Sian, how do you both manage your work/life balance?
Keeping a balance is a struggle sometimes, however our work is so enjoyable and the most important thing is we use our sense of humour to create a friendly environment. Spending time with our family is important – we have four children, our daughter is the eldest, and three sons – of which the two eldest work in our business. We love travelling to trade shows and usually manage to bolt on a few extra days. Drew enjoys fly fishing on the Usk, and shooting with the boys – we’re huge Welsh rugby fans and we love watching our 14 year old son play rugby. We hope to release more time as our sons grow with the business; they both joined straight from school – Monty’s in design and Harry is Head of Installation.
Do you have plans for the future of the business?
Definitely. We’re all very excited to be investing in new machinery; a second ‘Living’ showroom, and as we’ve said previously, for our boys to take more leadership of the business. We’re seeing a vast increase in business coming from London with whole refurbishments and, satisfyingly, the more we do the more we are referred by our existing clients. Our website is generating new enquiries and exhibiting at selected trade shows is also bringing more enquiries.
If you’re attracted by the idea of your very own piece(s) of bespoke furniture, or indeed a major refurb with dream quality craftsmanship, then do pop in to the showroom where you’ll be given a very warm welcome by Lee, Nina and Brenda.
Sian & Drew Williams Quails Interiors,
2 Castle Parade,