Alstons Furniture – A Brief History

The Alston family has been involved with furniture for over two centuries. As far back as 1776 there were Alstons repairing furniture in their Chelsea workshop.The present family’s direct ancestors started the business that became the Alstons Furniture business we know today in Sudbury, Suffolk. William Alston (1839-1919) and his brother Ambrose (1834 – 1902) were both master cabinet makers during the middle of the 19th century. William Alston later became a furniture dealer as well, selling from premises in 95 North Street, Sudbury. The Alstons Furniture business prospered and moved to 9 Old Market Place, Sudbury in 1875 Both of William Alston’s sons, Hammond and Percy worked in the business and together they then created one of the first all electric workshops.The premises at Old Market Place became a retail furniture shop as well, with additional workshops. One of which was to eventually form the beginnings of the Alstons Furniture Upholstery operation much later on. In 1921 Percy Alston’s son Leslie started an apprenticeship with his father and then completed this at Fisher Trade Woodworking in London’s East End.In 1937 Leslie started his own manufacturing business at a redundant coconut matting factory in Long Melford. The business was set up with a £6,000 bank loan. Leslie’s brother Roy joined him there to help run the new venture. The company later adopted the trade mark Albro as an abbreviation of Alston brothers, this continued into the 1980′s.During the Second World War, the factory in Long Melford switched its production to ‘utility’ bedroom and dining furniture. Extra work was also taken on to manufacture coffins for the war effort.Later in the war, the Long Melford factory was burnt out and new premises were sought in Ipswich. Initially production was resumed within Wrinch’s factory in Nacton Road, Ipswich. Land was also purchased adjacent to Wrinch’s and a factory was built by joining war surplus Nissen huts together to form a linear building and a continuous furniture production line was created within it. This temporary structure survived until 1971 when a new building was erected over the old huts ensuring that not an hour of production was lost.The Alstons Furniture cabinet business has remained at this site to this day. During this time a new head office had been built and a programme of continuous investment in machinery maintained. Alstons Furniture has manufactured almost exclusively bedroom furniture during this period. In the 1950′s and 60′s this was centered on suites of bedroom furniture of veneered teak, walnut and mahogany finish (a suite comprised a ladies wardrobe, a gents wardrobe and a dressing table). The 1970′s saw the introduction of modular bedroom furniture ranges in veneered and painted finishes.In more recent years the Alstons have become a market leader in the production of traditional and contemporary bedroom ranges of laminate and painted finish.Leslie Alston remained in charge of the business until his death in 1976 at which point his oldest son Rex (John) took over as Managing Director with Leslie’s brother Percy (Roy) as Chairman. In 1979 Alan, Leslie’s other son became Chairman and Managing Director of Alstons Furniture, assisted by his bother Rex and with their cousin Noel (Percy’s son) as Sales Director. John P Alston joined the family business, Alstons Furniture, in 1974 becoming a Director in 1987 and Managing Director in 1995. In 2008 David Alston became Chairman of Alstons Furniture, taking on this role directly from his father. Also in this year John’s daughter Jessica Alston joined Alstons Furniture as a design assistant.The Upholstery business flourished and within 10 years, further satellite factories were opened in Hadleigh, Suffolk and Clacton, Essex.The recession of the early 1980′s saw a contraction of Alstons Furniture and the satellite factories were closed down and production and investment consolidated at the Colchester site. Up until 1995 Alan Alston continued to be responsible for the running of Alstons Furniture. In 1995 David Alston, Alan’s youngest son became Managing Director of the company and the responsibility passed on.In 2008 John Alston took on the role of chairman of Alstons Furniture from his father.During the life of the company it has manufactured sofas, sofa beds, sideboards, chairs and recliner chairs.Alstons Furniture continues to make all its production from its factory in Colchester and is now one of the leading producers of upholstery in the UK.

Best Way to Start a Photography Business

So you have a digital camera and you are thinking of turning your photography hobby into a successful business. But where do you start? From a logo, to a website, blogsite, domain name, email account, business card, camera equipment, lighting equipment, accounting software — you are feeling a little overwhelmed. The question is, what should you do first?Identify the one action that will make the biggest impactWhen starting any new business, you will have many things to do. The hardest part is knowing what to do first. Although, several things may be important, think to yourself, “what is the one thing that will make the biggest impact in launching my business?” For example, hiring a great accountant is important, but without any clients or income, this step will have very little impact in launching your business.Biggest impact for photography businessesGet a website! Getting a website will have the single greatest impact on starting a photography business. Certainly, word-of-mouth and referrals will bring you business as well. But, for example, if someone refers a business to you, what is the first thing you do? You go online and check out their website! Times have changed, getting a professional looking website is not difficult or expensive. There are many beautiful template photography website companies out there. You simply upload your own photos and content. You can even change the look of the website without any graphic design skills. Best of all, many of these companies help you set up your domain name and email accounts. These companies charge anywhere from $6 – $50/month on average. (Once your business is more established you may wish to hire a professional to design your website/blogsite – see branding below).What content should be on the website?Make sure to include your business name and location. So often I see photographers have forgotten to give their location! Don’t have a studio or a physical address? That’s okay. It is just important that you include the city and state/province that you work in. This is important for Google. You want your website to show up when someone searches for photography services in your city! For example, a potential client may type “Windsor Wedding Photographer” into a Google search. You want to make sure that you have mentioned on your website that you are a Wedding Photographer in Windsor!Also, be sure to give your contact information – email and telephone number. It is ideal to have this on your “contact” page, and at the bottom of every page on your website. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you!Finally, write a little bit about yourself and what type of photography you do. People can’t hire you if they don’t know what you do!What images should I put on my website?Many new photographers worry that they don’t have enough photos for a portfolio page. Don’t worry! Less is often more. If you are starting a wedding photography business, put up some wedding related photos. Don’t have very many wedding photos? Try this: go to your local florist and buy a beautiful bouquet. Then take some beautiful detail photos of it. Ask a friend if you can take some detail photos of her engagement ring and wedding band. Slowly, as you get more clients your portfolio will grow and you can add more photos. If you are starting a kids portrait photography business and you don’t have a lot of photos of children – ask a friend if you can photograph her toddler for the website.I am by no means suggesting that you lie to clients about your level of experience. These are just some ideas on how to get supporting images for your website. Also, getting out there and taking more photographs is a great exercise in photography!Unsure of your company’s identity? What about branding?You always hear about people who haven’t started their photography businesses yet because everything behind the scenes, (branding, logo, studio, etc), isn’t perfect yet. They are afraid to start until everything is perfect. Chances are they will never be perfect – and they will never start. Your style and your company’s identity will become clearer to you the more you photograph. For example, you may decide that would like to photograph newborns only to discover, from experience, that you don’t have the patience. And you later realize that you really excel in the fast pace world of wedding photography.Things to think aboutThere are many simple/plain website templates out there that you can choose from, if you are still discovering your style and brand. You can refine the your website’s style later. Look at established companies – they are always updating their website’s style! Don’t wait until everything is perfect behind the scenes to start your photography company. You might just be waiting forever! Get your website up, because it is the one action you can take that will have the biggest impact on propelling your photography business forward. Good luck!

Auto Insurance Does Not Mean The Same Things To People In The Financial Profession

It is amazing how much literature has been written about the car insurance business online. The main approach in use by the bulk of the writings is in the direction of selling car insurance, rather than offer it in the proper context of insurance product or ‘a product to protect your assets and wealth.’ That is why when searching for the phrase ‘auto insurance’ a large number of websites emerge with the ‘selling’ phrases like affordable auto insurance, or cheap auto insurance or low cost auto insurance.In the early part of 2011 and according to Google AdWords there were 8,100; 74,000; 9,900 monthly searches for the above key phrases, respectively. On the other hand, there were only 110 searches for the phrase ‘reliable auto insurance’, 170 searches for ‘quality auto insurance’, and 8,100 for ‘top auto insurance companies.’ It is rather easy to conclude that most of the searches on line are about price, not quality of insurance.A basic principle in marketing is to understand what people ‘want’ and design and package your product or service to meet what the folks want. Looking at those numbers we can tell that most people want cheap auto insurance. As a marketer, if you design any campaign without considering that analysis you may eventually flunk the marketing tests, close your website and go do something else.So what’s the difference between auto insurance polices? From a ‘financial planning viewpoint’ car insurance comparison should never be based on price only, and perhaps most people agree that cheap insurance is not necessarily the best car insurance. But what most people do not know is that an insurance policy with the best rated company may also be one of the most problematic contract. An auto insurance policy should be compared in reference with three factors:1. Price: of course the cheaper the better.2. Company Rating: Non standard companies are more flexible than their standard or preferred counterparts with regard to past violations found on the MVR activities of the drivers and the credit score of the car insurance applicants. However, non standard companies are harsher than others in customer service and paying claims. Most of complains come from non standard insurance companies. While preferred companies do not hesitate to quickly pay for smaller claims suck as seven or eight thousand dollars claim, or even little more; all companies from top to bottom will try to examine the application to see if they have to or do not have to pay a $100,000 claim.3. Liability Limits. This is the most ignored, least understood, but is the most important aspect of the policy which affect customers during time they need the insurance. It measures how much protection you have in the event you get sued. A professional financial advisor will never ever sell you an auto insurance policy at low limits if he/she has enough information that you and your spouse have enough wealth to be sued for in the event that you or a family household member cause a major auto accident and your car insurance pays the maximum on the policy which turns out not to be enough.There are many insurance policies sold with superior insurance companies at the lowest liability limits mandated by the state. In the State of Illinois these limits are 20/40/15, which means that in the event you cause an accident that is your fault and you get sued by others, then your company will pay to others on your behalf no more than $20,000 for bodily injury for one person, no more than $40,000 for bodily injury for all other people in the accident, and a maximum of $15,000 for any and all property damage you case in that accident. If you are a business owner and you cause a major accident resulting in a unbeaten lawsuit of $300,000 and your insurance company maxed the payment on the policy and paid $20,000, the difference of $280,000 will have to come from your own money!Financial Planners and Auto Insurance Marketers Are Not in HarmonyFinancial planners are not in harmony with insurance marketers about the weight that needs to be placed on limits of liability in auto insurance. Marketers like to stress the aspects of price and company rating, while financial planners like to stress the importance of liability limits first, then company rating second, and perhaps price at a later stage.Although financial planners and auto insurance marketers have the common goals of maximizing their earnings while providing their services, the scope of their operations is different. Auto insurance marketers make their money by selling as many polices as they can have. The marketer does his best to make as many sales as possible, hence making small amount of money on too many policies sold. Financial planners work differently as they try to make big money from each of the few number of customers they have. Selling an auto policy is not the primary concern of a financial planner, but for him or her auto insurance is one of the fundamental subjects of the financial planning process.Car insurance agents look at auto insurance as a way to protect the car itself in the event of theft, fire or another loss, besides the fact that it’s the law. Financial planners look at auto insurance as an integral part of their clients risk management process. To the financial planner an auto policy is not to repair the car in the event of loss, but is mainly about protecting the assets and wealth of the insured, especially against potential lawsuits.Some auto insurance marketers would even suggest to cut down on liability insurance as a way to save money. No sound financial planner will ever make such a suggestion. No way!When does height matter?How high your liability limits should be is the main issue that should prevail when you buy car insurance. You probably need only the minimum liability limits mandated by the states if /when(1) you shopped for higher limits and could not afford it, (2) your current assets or wealth is not big enough to expose you to further lawsuits in the event of at fault auto accident. (3) you are a high risk driver where no one else wants to insure you except at the minimum limits. But, if you have certain amounts of assets and wealth, or is expected to have sizable assets or wealth, then you need to worry about the height of your liability limits.What about if you are not wealthy with plenty of assets? Even for people with little or no wealth, the height of liability limits should be much of a concern to them. This is due to the fact that liability insurance contains certain coverages to pay for your bodily injuries in the event that you get hit by a vehicle that is legally uninsured, or is insured but the insurance on that vehicle was not enough to cover your bodily injuries. According to the Insurance Research Council, approximately 15% to 17% all drivers in the United States are uninsured. Coverages for Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) vary from states to states with regard to their mandatory status and limit amounts. In Illinois UM is mandatory at the limits of $20,000 for bodily injury per person and $40,000 for bodily injury per accident. Underinsured motorists coverage is not mandatory in Illinois but insurance companies must offer it to clients for policies issued with liability over the state limits. Clients can still reject to have higher uninsured/ underinsured motorists but it must be in writing. As you can see, your liability only policy provides coverage for your bodily injuries, and making sure that you have high limits on both liability, UM and UIM can have tremendous effect on your life.