For many in this day and age, a ‘job for life’ can be hard to come by, but as they celebrate forty years of working for a furniture manufacturer and retailer in the South Wales valleys, Alun Rees and Paul Jones say that is exactly what they have.
The pair, who started working at Thomas Lloyd in 1981 – the year the business was established – will celebrate alongside the rest of the workforce, past and present this Friday.
With an afternoon of food, drinks and reminiscing at the factory showroom in Treorchy, the company will mark a momentous four decades of trading.
Alun, 57, was 17 when he started as a ‘Finisher’, hand-studding and antiquing furniture. Now an Upholstery Technician and a supervisor in his field,
“I’d just left sixth form and wanted to get straight into the world of work. I remember having an interview on the Monday and starting work on the Tuesday.
“I know it’s cliché to say this, but it honestly feels like yesterday.”
With all furniture still produced exclusively in the UK, Thomas Lloyd maintains traditional upholstery methods of cutting, pleating, buttoning, studding and finishing its furniture by hand.
But while in the age of online shopping, cutting out the retailer seems like the obvious choice, forty years ago, it was a bold and unique concept for Harry Ridgwell, who started Thomas Lloyd as a small business dedicated to making leather sofas at affordable prices.
“I always admired Harry for what he did,” adds Alun, who lives just half a mile from the Thomas Lloyd factory showroom. “He had a great presence. Starting a business like this was an ingenious thing to do, and it really did take off.
Now the largest UK manufacturers of hand-made leather furniture, Thomas Lloyd is part of the SofaSofa Group with Harry Ridgwell’s son, Lloyd, in the role of CEO.
Lloyd Ridgwell says,
“As we celebrate 40 years of Thomas Lloyd, I feel incredibly proud. Not only of the milestone achievement, but of the fact we still have staff working with us who have been here since the very first year.
“My father strived to build a business that offered better quality furniture at low prices made in the UK – and it remains the cornerstone of our business to this day.”