Cabinet makers find recruitment a challenging process – Artizen Design

25/01/2018
A staffing crisis loomed for one local company when two skilled tradesmen left the island, one to retire and the other returned to his native New Zealand. Fortunately, Jersey Business was on hand to smooth the way to a solution.

Artizen Design, which has been trading in the Island for 12 years, is a classic example of two people blending their individual skills to form one very successful business.

Louisa Humphrey studied fashion at college but, with no fashion industry in Jersey, she turned her attention instead to hand-painted interiors.

She met her future husband, Mick Loughlin, a professional cabinet maker whilst working on a beautiful house in Trinity. They were both sole traders and they soon realised that there was good commercial potential in combining their expertise. Artizen Design was the result.

What’s in a name?

‘We were both artisans and we wanted the business name to reflect that, but the word “artisan” occurs in quite a few other company titles,’ explained Louisa. ‘During a holistic weekend away, we decided to spell the word with a “zen” ending. It gave us the name we wanted and also distinguished us from all those existing artisan firms out there.’

Including Louisa and Mick, Artizen has a workforce of 15 people operating from offices and a workshop in Trinity. The team is made up of a draftsman, cabinet makers, finishers, fitters and an apprentice.

Bespoke kitchens make up a good proportion of business, each one undertaken is unique, designed and built from scratch with every unit crafted and carefully installed according to the dimensions and shape of the room. Away from the domestic scene, Artizen also undertakes commercial work, including fitting out interiors for high profile companies.

To produce a consistent level of high-quality craftsmanship, Artizen needs to employ experienced tradesmen. Cabinet making, in which bespoke furniture is manufactured often for high net worth customers, is much more than just joinery.

When the 2 cabinet makers moved away from the island, Artizen quickly found that recruitment adverts were unproductive.  Realising that replacement staff would have to be found from overseas – and knowing how difficult it would inevitably be to obtain registered licences for them – she decided that it was time to enlist the help of Jersey Business.

‘Jersey Business were a great help, they assisted me all the way through’ 

‘There are a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to applying for registered licences to employ people from outside the Island,’ said Louisa. ‘But Chris Settle at Jersey Business was excellent, he guided me through the tricky process.

An added difficulty is finding somewhere to live. A registered licence means that the employee has to live in non-qualified accommodation and that usually appeals only to young and single applicants.’

It was at this point that a chance encounter led to success where the recruitment adverts had failed. ‘I bumped into a former neighbour from 20 years ago,’ Louisa said. ‘She mentioned that her daughter was currently living in the UK but wanted to return to Jersey with her partner – who just happened to be a cabinet maker working in London.

‘Chris helped me with the licence application and advised me on ideas that would back up our application. The applicant flew over to see us and brought with him a file of professional qualifications, which helped us achieve our goal.’

It was good news for Artizen because not one, but two licences were granted at the first time of asking, enabling the firm to potentially fill both vacancies.

‘We are really busy just now and the new employee is very talented. He has settled in well and loves the Island and the work. We will now have a recruitment drive to fill that second position.

‘Jersey Business were a great help, they assisted me in getting the wording right for the application and gave me ideas on what else to include. They know the correct procedures and I am grateful that they were there to help.’

Artizen Design