We speak to Chris Gilbert about how he changed tack from music to marble establishing the first marble supplier quoted on the London stock exchange.
What do you currently do?
I am CEO of Fox Marble Holdings plc, an AIM listed company, responsible to the board and our shareholders for the operation of the business and guiding the team that work for us.
I raised funds to establish Fox Marble in 2011, which is the only marble company listed on the London Stock Exchange. To date we have raised £13M.
My role apart from keeping shareholders, office colleagues, and quarry masters and workers in good spirits includes looking ahead to expanding Fox Marble’s capabilities and reach.
Last year we built our own processing factory in Kosovo, installed the most advanced Italian made machinery for cutting marble to size. A new trade showroom will shortly open in London.
Part of my role is to attract customers from around the world, including India, the USA, Australia and Northern Europe. Pleasing news is our for three thousand square metres of their whitest marble tiles, called Alexandrian White, for a Turkish company.. A happy recognition of our quality, actually from a marble producing country.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
The opportunity arose in Kosovo and subsequently Macedonia to exploit the vast marble resources in the region; I was inspired by a USAID study, which surveyed many of the marble sites. None of them had been developed into quarries.
Kosovo was a source of marble for millennia, fine enough to satisfy Roman builders and Renaissance sculptors. The industry lay dormant for decades, but never exploited. The most likely reason is a history of conflict and poverty. Rare types of marble can be found in Kosovo, another commercial asset, as well as inspiring for that our enterprise can provide employment, trade and regeneration in a troubled region. Marble can now be excavated efficiently in larger quantities than ever before with no damage to the environment.
Who do you admire?
Those entrepreneurs that create businesses from scratch especially where new products or new technology is concerned such as Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Daniel Ek. (The founder of Spotify).
Looking back, is there anything you’d have done differently?
With respect to Fox l have been on a steep learning curve in various areas of the business, not just in the quarrying and processing side of our business and given that this is my first experience of conducting an IPO and running a public company l would have added to our senior management team more quickly than l did.
What defines your way of doing business?
I look for a business that
- i) Can be very profitable in the long term with high margins which Fox embodies,
- ii) For the opportunity to operate good social partnerships and improve on existing conditions in some way.
iii) To work with good people with whom it is possible to build long term relationships.
- iv) Work to the highest ethical standards both personally and corporately and insist everyone around does the same.
- v) Remember it is always a team effort and reward people accordingly in every way possible.
I seek to create businesses that not only make money but also maintain a good social partnership with their employees and the communities where they operate.