Here is a timeline or narrative to how we came into existence which I hope you will find interesting.
Its inception was 11th October 2010. We were then called Stone Doctor operating as a Sole Proprietor business operated and run by myself Simon Gabriel.
Our activities then was mainly about residential stone restoration service work while the rest of the work was made up of application of Dry-Treat penetrating sealers over newly laid natural stone surfaces. This was how we entered the market. Allow me elaborate further.
Our first real opportunity came my way when I met Arthur the Technical Manager at Dry-Treat at that time where I expressed to him my 15 years of experience in the field of stone restoration back in Malaysia. Bringing that to to Melbourne, Australia, he quickly picked up on my qualifications and awarded me the status of a Certified Applicator for Dry-Treat stone penetrating sealers. This being the initial source of how I begun the journey, soon enough we started receiving some leads to address restoration work which then came in more and more. I clearly noted then that the market was certainly lacking experienced trades in natural stone surface refurbishment which generally includes re-honing & re-polishing which I was so eager to show off the skills I had. Without blowing my own trumpet, I did think at that time that there was no one out there in Melbourne who could work these stone surfaces as I can. Getting customers praising me for my skills and effort surely got me on a high.
Moving on and away from self-praise, I continued in this manner for 4 years working solo on some very high end homes in Toorak, Hawthorn, Malvern, Essendon, etc.. to name a few inner suburban locations and of course the tasks were highly demanding with many challenges. During this time, I did not seek help pertaining to employing an apprentice to assist me with any of the work as I had no room or given time to address the daunting process of hiring. Fatigue creeped in quickly but loving the work keep my motor humming.
Somewhere in the early part of that 4-year period, we changed our business structure to that of Stone Doctor Australia Pty Ltd. We managed to score a big opening with Lithofin under the care of Greg Foulds the current Product Manager. We were given certified applicator status and this amounted to even more work as a result, reality then truly hit hard that I could no longer manage on my own. It came to a point where I could not do any work as my mobile phone was coming through with non-stop leads. I knew at this time, some action was immediately needed. For those who do not know what Lithofin is, it is a premium brand of stone and tile care products manufactured in Germany and until today remains a premium choice for Australian. This product range was and is to date a much sought-after brand favourably used in medium to high-end residential homes namely.
After thinking through for a few weeks with much contemplation, I decided we should start retail despite being blinded with all that service work. The market needed an insight to stone care and restoration and by setting up retail, the business could reach out to the volumes of incoming leads converting some of them into Do It Yourself (DIY) jobs as most Australian are self-reliant and extremely handy while other leads was easily converted towards quality service work. We became an official re-seller and distributor of the entire range of the Lithofin Cleaning and Sealing Products and that was the starting growth point of Stone Doctor Australia as a retailer based out of our outlet in Richmond. We are to date a big mover of Lithofin product in Victoria and across Australia. We now started employing. Our first team member was a retail assistant to look after retail while I continued to work on the field. It was Harish Rijkaard who took on the position as Retail Assistant then who after a year moved on to join me in the service field. He is now the Services Manager of Stone Doctor Australia managing all our onsite services business in stone restoration and care. Honing his unfound skills throughout the years has transformed him into one of the well-known names here in Melbourne as an experienced stone care professional.
While the Retail & Online took plenty of time to become a viable business; three and a half years to be exact, Stone Doctor Australia was concurrently working on building its services team as well at one go. It was first Harish and me and as we progressed through the years, we had many new team members join and leave. To be honest, it was always a challenge to develop and train new technicians as we found the core reason they left is that they did not have the love and passion for the industry. We now have a stringent hiring process that includes highly organised training modules both theoretical as well as practical, a plan to progress Apprentices to Junior Technicians and Junior Technicians to Senior Technicians all in a span of 2.5 years. Senior Technicians will also be given the opportunity to be trained and groomed into Service Managers if they which to pursue a management role. This forms part of our progressive team structure producing Service Managers just after 3 years. This approach is bearing fruit as we will see Stone Doctor Australia having many fully skilled technicians emerging in the next 2 years. Also we are always on the look out to train new deserving apprentices in the art of premium stone restoration.
Back to Stone Doctor Australia as a business entity; operating from a Sole Proprietor from its inception on to a private limited business for all those years, our accountant Mr. Siva Sadasivam had proposed that we operate the business under a family trust. He believed that the business was growing and that it had huge potential. It also made sense as I did not have any partners in the business. His wisdom in steering and guiding me on the business has been phenomenal and to this day is paramount to our success and continued growth.
After the three and a half years, our retail sector finally took some stability back in 2018, we have since expanded much and are now in a position of high resourcefulness serving a steadily growing market. We now represent so many more premium brands such as MB Stone Care, Bellinzoni, Aqua Mix, Tenax, Edco, Dribond Construction Chemicals, DTA and many more. It will be an ultra-long a list to place them all here. Part of our late 2020 strategy was to move into commercial cleaning tools & equipment, painting accessories and personal protective equipment. Our team to date has grown in numbers and will continue to do so now at a slower pace as our growth spur has been affected by the ongoing pandemic right to this current day. Melbourne has been and hold the record for being the most lock down city in the world.
Other prime strategies we have ongoing are our business-to-business program. We are now zooming in to supplying our premium products to specialised trades in that of builders, landscapers, tilers and stonemasons. Here we are offering exclusive trade pricing, free shipping Australia wide and priority support to give this client base good headway with their ongoing projects involving natural stone. Quantity Break happens to be another notable strategic area where all online customers can take advantage of a generous 20% discount when the suggested quantities are met.
Being our 11th anniversary on the 11th of October, we wanted to share with you our journey thus far and to provide an insight to our future endeavours as well. Stone Doctor Australia will be exploring distribution of our own Home Brand items along with international brands that we have exclusive distribution rights. The other part of our near future expansion plans will be in the provision of professional consultative solutions to new and existing clients. We are to work with architects, designers, builders and direct clients who need our expertise and guidance when using natural stone on their projects, covering areas from material suitability to successful installation practices right through to the importance of after care will be on the table soon. Lastly in the more distant future to provide non accredited training to stonemasons, tilers and others on the art of stone restoration.
“To sign off, Stone Doctor Australia is here to continuously support the industry with the latest innovations while addressing current issues being faced in the market. We shall continue to strive and become the number one go to company here in Australia in all affairs related to natural stone. ”
C.E.O of Stone Doctor Australia
Date: 10th of October 2021
History of Stone Doctor Australia