Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quality First and Always.......Andrew Farquhar - "Le bon Dieu est dans le detail".

Last month I joined a fabulous group of women for a blog party called 'By Invitation Only' created by Marsha Harris at Splenderosa in the USA.  Today, again I'm joining in and the theme and inspiration for our post for this one is from Vicki Archer from French Essence and Tish Jett from A Femme d'Un Certain Age . 
Please visit Marsha and all the girls on the list as well there are many new guests this month, one being my great friend Lisa Porter from The Lisa Porter Collection.

and it is.....

Gustave Flaubert, the French writer best known for his novel Madame Bovary, is generally attributed with the saying, "Le bon Dieu est dans le detail".

Over the years this expression has morphed and changed but the simple message remains the same...and that is… that whatever we do, should be done thoroughly and to the very best of our abilities. The details are what make all the difference...

Immediately, I thought of my husband Andrew,
then the next day, I thought more about this quote and Andrew still came to mind!

Then today as I started this post, Andrew is still the only person that I know
that has a very close relationship with fine details in every aspect of his working life.

......and there is a twist to this story, read on and you will see at the end. 
Quality First and Always is Andrew's company motto, it always has been...
Attention to every detail....
It is the way he sees his work and his life.
 Over the last 28 years Andrew has employed 
hundreds of people and trained many
apprentices, many who have won awards and have gone
on to run their own successful workshops.

From many staff to only one these days, Andrew is still as passionate about training apprentices and now, one day a fortnight Andrew runs classes from his workshop, because he believes that traditional skills must be passed on, or they will be lost forever. 

Only last Thursday, Andrew was announced 'Trade boss of the year' and
also Andy McMillian, our one and only apprentice was announced
'Apprentice of the Year' for our region.  Well done Andy!!
and well done my darling....

I think Andrew has now trained over ten of the
'top apprentices of the Year' for Australia over the years
as well as many runners up and winners of work skills and woodworking competitions.  It costs a fortune to train young people nowadays and just when they're
at their peak, they leave.....with the need to spread their wings. 
We often talk about how the French wood-working apprentices over the centuries would train with a Master Craftsmen and never leave that workshop.  They in turn would train their apprentices.  Sadly, in Australia our system is not set up for that today, people can leave their job with a couple of weeks notice.
We often hear that our apprentices 'are' training young apprentices and passing the skills on and I know that make Andrew happy.

Andrew's workshop ....'Farquhar's Furniture' .....Maker's and restorers of traditional furniture, is always filled with the most amazing pieces that are in production, sets of dining chairs, beautiful carved bedheads, clocks,
bookcases and cabinets built from the ground up,
and the many work benches are filled with
carvings, polishing, upholstery and amazing restoration.

I went through some of Andrew's photo albums (and there a many) this morning and  picked a few of my favourite pictures of his work and his apprentices.  It's a little sad to look at some of the photographs as it brings back many memories of past employees, some of who have passed on.  Andrew, had uniforms for all his men, aprons with their names and perfectly run work areas.  Now, it's different,  everything has changed with the business, it's much more relaxed...smaller and better.

 Andrew as passionate if not more about his designs, the details and the quality of his work as he was when I met him twenty years ago.   The huge jobs still come in......but they just take a little longer to produce.

Andrew wasn't well recently (and he is never sick) and I suddenly had a scary moment of 'what if'?   It does make you stop and think about things!

The most wonderful thing happened yesterday.
There is an old shed in the rear lane of my shop
and it has been the home to an old man for five years or more,
I never see him, he leaves early in the morning
and comes back late at night.  He's homeless!!
Recently some horrid kids threw bricks into the side walls
and completely ruined it....  I called the police to let them know,
but, a homeless man, is just that, homeless,
He was gone!!  and I was worried for him!
It's been a very cold winter here in Australia.
Yesterday, when I arrived at my studio the shed looked different,
so my daughter, Bec and I snuck up to have a peak in,
Bec, said, I think he's back and living here,  holes in walls and all !!
He had moved all the broken bits of walls
around his bed to shelter him from the cold.
Then, we saw him!
Andrew and I walked up to say hello and talk with him,
He was old, a bit weathered and he had very friendly eyes... and his name is Alan.
Andrew and I decided we would fix the wall for him.
Well, Andrew really did all the work with the help of our son Thomas,
I watched and chatted.
We had some corrugated iron at the workshop
and all I can say, is that I love Andrew,

after working all week long, helping a friend move house,
and not feeling very well lately, he's always happy to help someone. 
Not only did he rebuild this man's home,
He matched all the old bits of iron pieces together beautifully
   to keep with the original look........ 'an old shed' 
He also went inside and repaired some the internal walls,
and he added a few coat hooks for the walls,
I didn't go in....
But, all I could hear was Alan laughing!!
so.....to conclude this (very long) post

 from the above Gustave Flaubert quote...
'that whatever we do,
should be done thoroughly and to the very best of our abilities'
Whether it is a hand made piece of furniture
a wall for a shed for a homeless man,
My Andrew always, always gives his very best.
and that's why I love him so....