Greenock furniture maker rolls out jobs after funding boost

Rory MacDonald wants to use Golden Oak as a vehicle to employ skilled craft workers who struggle with illness or disability. Picture: Contributed
Rory MacDonald wants to use Golden Oak as a vehicle to employ skilled craft workers who struggle with illness or disability. Picture: Contributed
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An Inverclyde start-up which creates oak furniture from unwanted whisky barrels has received a funding boost to create jobs and secure new equipment.

Golden Oak Restoration has secured £20,000 from alternative finance provider Transmit Start-Ups to help it take on two staff, secure premises and invest in tools.

The Greenock firm recycles unwanted whisky barrels to create its oak furniture. Picture: Contributed

The Greenock firm recycles unwanted whisky barrels to create its oak furniture. Picture: Contributed

The Greenock business recycles used and unwanted whisky casks, some more than 120 years old, to craft “unique” pieces of furniture for customers including high-end hotels, corporate clients and destination pubs.

Founder Rory MacDonald also aims to use the business as a vehicle to give skilled workers a second chance by hiring craftspeople who have lost employment through struggles with illness or disability.

He was inspired to start the company after his mother, a distillery worker, showed him a store of old oak barrels being collected for firewood.

MacDonald said: “When we get them, the outside of the barrel is battered and worn but once you start to work on them you can see the unique detail coming through and ripples of amber liquid still soaked into the wood.

“We don’t worry about what’s happened on the outside, they’re still beautiful on the inside and that’s what we focus on. The same is true about our people.

“Our first two team members, Matt and Scott, are superb craftsmen who had given up hope of using their skills because of health issues and were working in jobs that had no need for such creativity and passion.

“It’s fantastic to be able to invest in people in this way and we are committed to creating further positive impact in the local community.”

Golden Oak is also working with social enterprises to help develop people’s confidence and skills through crafts, and has a long-term goal to launch its own apprenticeship programme.

Transmit Start-Ups business adviser Morag Kelly said: “It was especially satisfying to help Rory secure a start-up loan because he not only creates beautiful products but he is also incredibly committed to bringing about a positive social impact in the local community.”