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Established

Lessons from some of the world's oldest companies by Dark Angels

This book is fully funded, but you can still support it!

  • https://unbound.com/books/established

The Synopsis

Established: 1198, 1498, 1515, 1519, 1534, 1570, 1698, 1705, 1715, 1759, 1824, 1891. An inn, a removals company, a butchers, a ferry, a printing press, a bell foundry, a wine merchants, a stone carvers, a scale makers, a brewers, an agricultural company, a gum manufacturer. How on earth have they managed that? And what are their secrets of survival?

In Established, twelve business writers set out to find the answers to these questions and to tell the stories of these companies that have survived scores of booms and busts, black sheep in the family and strange twists of fate.

But they’re not your typical team of business writers. The twelve are from the Dark Angels stable, the brand that since 2004 has been encouraging authentic voices in business writers through its residential courses and workshops. Storytelling is at the heart of the Dark Angels approach. In Established you will find that each of these enduring businesses has a great story, each of which is told in an individual voice that brings range and freshness to the book and makes it quite unlike the mainstream ‘how to’ hardback.

But the lessons the stories contain are every bit as instructive, from the eschewal of nepotism to the generational mantra of ‘humility and rebellion’. The reader will find contradictions, on questions like world domination or keeping it to the one shop. And that’s the joy of this book, that readers looking for insight as well as good old entertainment will gravitate towards the business that most resembles theirs in spirit and set-up if not in actual trade.

The lesson in every instance that is closest to the writers’ hearts is that the story itself is one of the greatest assets of every business – and when you’ve got over 500 years of records it’s quite a challenge to tell it, especially in a couple of thousand words. Established does just that.

The Companies

The Brazen Head
The Shore Porters Society
R.J. Balson & Son
The Hampton Ferry
Whitechapel Bell Foundry
Cambridge University Press
Berry Brothers & Rudd
The John Stevens Shop
John White & Son
Guinness
Australian Agricultural Company
Wrigley

The Excerpt

The Brush, the Mallet, the Chisel, the Letter

The good and true story of The John Stevens Shop

by Richard Pelletier

“John Stevens, Stone Cutter Takes this method to inform the public and his former employers in particular THAT he carries on the stone-cutters business at his shop the North end of Thames Street where any persons may be supplied with tombstones, gravestones, hearths, and printers press stones, and where every kind of work in stone is performed in the neatest and most elegant manner.”

Newport Mercury, October 27, 1781

29 Thames Street, Newport Rhode Island

Late afternoon. A warm September day. Autumn light drifts down through the windows and skylights of Nicholas Benson’s stone carving shop on Thames Street in Newport, Rhode Island. High on the wall, a likeness of Nick’s grandfather. He is John Howard Benson, whose creative fires stoke this place like the light of an endless sun. Nick Benson is at his workbench. Overhead on a wooden shelf, a row of mallets and wood planes, smoothed and worn, register the yawn of time, gathering dust.

The space is intimate, glorious. Thick, exposed, load-bearing beams; mallets and chisels and wood planes and ropes. Small blocks of stone carved with the letter R. Shelves and drawers and walls are lovingly filled with old tools, drawings and sketches, letters and photographs, books and letterforms. There are thick slabs of granite, marble and slate. It’s the studio of an artist of the Old World, sumptuous and magical, a visual feast. All that light. A sense of order.

In the glare of a simple desk lamp, Paul Russo carves a honed granite headstone that leans on a large wooden easel. A twenty-plus-years stone-carver, he’s Nick's main man. Russo has just finished a line drawing of a sailboat and now comes the world's shortest biography—name, date of arrival, date of departure. The going is slow; it will take him two weeks to finish. It’s slow because granite is the hardest stone there is. And because this is how they do it here. To watch for a minute is to know two things. A hand-carved headstone is a sensitive, lasting and loving tribute. And it is fierce, hard, painstaking work. “My hands are fine,” Russo says, “it’s my elbows. I have tendinitis.”

“I have carpal tunnel,” says Nick. “I have bad legs and my knees are killing me.”

The pace in the workshop tends toward a normal eight-hour workday. On large, site-specific projects (for which the Shop is renowned) it’s different. “On those we’re going fast,” says Nick, “putting in nine and 10 hour days. It’s brutal.”

As chisel meets granite, a rapid fire, metallic ‘tenk’ sound fills the workshop. Tenk, tenk, tenk, tenk, tenk. Tenk, tenk. Tenk, tenk, tenk. Memorializing the dead in granite has a music and rhythm to it, a syncopation that repeats until it doesn’t. John Cage are you listening?

Between the shop’s first, somewhat crude scratchings from the early days of the 18th century, and the elegant letters that Russo carves today, stand two families. The Stevens family came first. Then came the Bensons, of whom Nicholas Waite Benson is the latest. Which means that the John Stevens Shop has survived six generations of one family and three generations of another.

To be continued…

Read more...

The Author

Dark Angels is a writing programme established in 2004 – just newcomers, then…. We take writers to remote places and help them to write more effectively at work. We believe in business communication that is creative, engaging and human – that’s what makes it effective.

Because good ideas thrive, work is more meaningful, organisations prosper and relationships flourish when people respect the power of language and use words with skill and care.

We run courses that help people to develop their writing skills and creative confidence in ways that are fun, challenging and safe. When they return to work, they can write in more natural, human and engaging ways. They can use the power of stories to connect with people. They can explain their ideas more clearly. And they are more effective communicators.

The programme was established by Stuart Delves, Jamie Jauncey and John Simmons whose book Dark Angels describes the philosophy. In 2016 Dark Angels is growing beyond its three founders. We are delighted to welcome new Associate Partners who will spread the Dark Angels experience more widely. They are all highly regarded writers and trainers who will add new dimensions to Dark Angels. And they have each written a chapter of this book. They are: Neil Baker, Claire Bodanis, Gillian Colhoun, Mike Gogan, Martin Lee, Elen Lewis, Andy Milligan, Richard Pelletier and Mark Watkins.

Many of these writers were authors in the Dark Angels collective novel Keeping Mum, published by Unbound in 2014.

The Rewards

All supporters get their name printed in every edition of the book. All levels include immediate access to the author's shed.

$15
Digital
An ebook edition of the book and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $15 51 pledges
$35
Hardback
A special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $35 195 pledges
$50
Collectable
A signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $50 33 pledges
$60
Two Copies
Two copies of the special edition hardback shipped together (Only pay shipping once) and two name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $60 14 pledges
$140
Bulk Order
Five copies of the special edition hardback shipped together (Only pay shipping once) and five name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $140 21 pledges
$250
Appear in the book
Pledge to become one of three new companies (established since 2013) that we mention in the book and whose progress we will track over the next year. At the end of that year we will write about the progress of the tracked companies in a new blog that we will publicise, plus a signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book Only 3 available
📖 Pledge $250 1 pledge
$315
Tour of Berry Bros
Enjoy a private tour through the secret London cellars of Berry Bros & Rudd, the country’s oldest wine merchant. Explore the fascinating interior of its world famous shop, which has remained the same since it opened in 1698 and has supplied everyone from Lord Byron to the Aga Khan (and the royal family since the reign of King George III). Then relax over a glass of free champagne in the snug comfort of the Chairman’s Parlour. The tour is for two people and will be led by a member of the Berry family. Plus a signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
Only 5 available
Sold out
$375
Dublin Pub Crawl
Go on a Dublin pub crawl and visit two of the companies featured in the book (Brazen Head and Guinness) in the company of two of the authors, plus a signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
📖 Pledge $375 3 pledges
$625
Signed Chapter and Bonus Story
The full manuscript chapter on John Stevens Shop signed by Richard Pelletier - together with an individualised bonus true story featuring the slave Zingo Stevens and a series of startling discoveries plus a signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
$750
Dark Angels Course
A place on a Dark Angels' writing course (Foundation level, or Advanced if you have previously attended a foundation course), plus a signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
Sold out
$1,065
Dark Angels Course
A place on a Dark Angels' writing course (Foundation level, or Advanced if you have previously attended a foundation course), plus a signed special edition hardback and your name in the back of the book
$2,500
Berry Bros & Rudd Dinner
Treat your friends or clients to a sumptuous fine-dining experience at Berry Bros & Rudd, the country’s oldest independent wine merchant. We’ll provide lunch for up to 10 people, including wine from the firm’s world-famous cellars. You can host your lunch in a private dining room at 3 St. James's Street. The firm’s London home has remained the same since it opened in 1698 and has supplied everyone from Lord Byron to the Aga Khan (and the royal family since the reign of King George III). Each of your guests will receive a copy of Established.