By Martin Vedris
BOWRAL, NSW: Bowral is known for its museum of the world-famous Don Bradman, but if a local businessman has his way, the town will be famous for another name, Black and Stone; the newest name in electrical appliances, with worldwide ambitions.
Imagine launching a new brand in the Australian electrical appliance industry, at the best of times.
Then consider launching a new brand right now, before Christmas in this current economy, with the Australian dollar in the doldrums, panic on the stock markets and Australian banks in worse shape than they dare to admit.
None of this is a concern however for Graham Brake, managing director of Black and Stone.
He hasn’t sold a single product in two years!
Brake started the company two years ago with a vision and ever since has been at the drawing board and in the design studio working on his company’s first products.
“We saw there was a lot of opportunity in the market for well-designed and good looking products that we could bring in at affordable prices,” Brake told Current.com.au.
“Black and Stone the company started two years ago and we’ve just started to launch products into markets now. We’ve been developing the products and we feel we have achieved that with the first lot of product we’re bringing to market now.”
Brake was schooled in the Illawarra, where he graduated from University and then spent the past 15 years making other people rich. He said he eventually decided the time was right to put his effort into his own business.
“We believe that with the principles that we’ve learned working for other companies over the past 15 years, the successful principles that worked for those companies, if you apply those same principles when you’re setting up a new company and brand, you should be able to achieve the same results,” Brake said.
The first products Black and Stone have launched are two models of electric convection barbeques and a gas safety gauge that shuts off the gas from barbeque gas bottles if it detects a gas leak. These products are available now. The next products from Black and Stone will be a range of heating products to be available for the 2009 heating season.
Black and Stone is based in Bowral, NSW, in the Southern Highlands south of the Illawarra. And while Australia is a vital market for Black and Stone, the company has worldwide goals.
The company says it has design and manufacturing facilities in Australia, New Zealand and Asia as well as working partners in New Zealand, China, Taiwan, North America, and the United Kingdom.
“Black and Stone is a 100 per cent Australian company and the divisions of the company we own in the UK and New Zealand are 100 per cent Australian owned as well,” said Brake.
“We want to establish the brand in Australia and also have a presence in a lot of markets and our experience is not only in Australia. Australia is very important to us. It is our base and a great testing ground for new products, but we also want to develop a brand in the European market, in North America, but we also think it is important to be involved in developing economies.”
The company even plans to sell product to the Chinese — like selling the proverbial coals to Newcastle, or ice to the Eskimo.
“We would also like to sell in China and I don’t think the fact it is manufactured in China is the key for the Chinese, they like Western brands.”
Brake and Black and Stone have ambitious plans but before any doubters get the chance to knock the company’s grand plans, it is already too late.
“Our first shipment arrives into the UK this week and we have incorporated in New Zealand and will start shipping products there in January,” said Brake.
“We see it as an opportunity for good quality products at affordable prices and so far the retailers and consumers tend to agree.”