A Nairn-based business is creating what will be the focal point of one of the world's top hotels - continuing the business's phenomenal international success.
Based at Balmakeith Business Park in Nairn, Black Isle Bronze is creating a striking four-face 'Smiths of Derby' clock for the new Waldorf Astoria to be opened in 2014 along the famous Palm in Dubai.
Smiths of Derby have been the UK's leading clock repairers, restorers and conservation specialists for over 150 years. The clock will be the focal point of the new hotel, which is part of the Hilton brand. Each face is one metre in diameter and took one quarter of a ton of bronze to make.
This comes only a month after a 9ft bronze sculpture of former Newcastle United and England manager Sir Bobby Robson was unveiled by Lady Elsie Robson outside the Newcastle United stadium. Artist Tom Maley worked closely with Sir Bobby's family on the design of the statue for more than a year and it was cast by Black Isle Bronze foundry in mid-February.
Established by Farquhar Laing in 1994, Black Isle Bronze is the UK's leading bronze foundry and the largest foundry in Scotland. It uses both lost wax and sand casting techniques, meaning the business can undertake both very large and very detailed commissions that many other foundries would be unable to accept.
Farquhar, who hails from the Black Isle, started the business as a one man band, with just £200 for materials, but now employs nine staff and has orders booked for the next year. The business also has a strong track record of employing young talent from local schools.
The business has undertaken a number of extremely high profile commissions over the years across the UK and abroad
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has worked closely with them for the past 10 years and has supported its international growth plans.
HIE's Area Manager, Martin Johnson, commented: "It is difficult to find a better example of a business that has grown from small roots to become an international leader in its field than Black Isle Bronze. For a small team of only nine staff, some of the projects they have successfully undertaken are staggering. From local projects such as the Mercat Cross in Inverness's Eastgate Centre and Tree of Life at Cawdor Castle, to the Batsman at Lord's Cricket Ground and Rainbow Division Memorial at Fere en Tardenois in Northern France - the company has developed a reputation for quality and excellence."
Farquhar Laing, said: "The support we have received from HIE has been crucial not only to increasing our volumes and throughput, but in giving us the space to focus on only using the best quality tools and materials. It is because of this that we can attract and retain some of the best and most skilled people in the country. As a result, we have five particularly highly skilled and talented people working in Nairn all year round. At the moment we are phenomenally busy with new projects and more orders are continually coming in."
Martin Johnson concluded: "Our staff have built up an incredibly strong relationship with Black Isle Bronze. International trade and investment offers exciting new opportunities to businesses and, in partnership with Scottish Development International, we have a comprehensive system of programmes and advice available."