Toby Allen and Aly May met in 2004 through friends and a love of festivals. Toby was based in Kent with a background in rustic garden fencing whilst Aly, based in Wales, had a passion for the outdoors, trying her hand at anything from apple picking to gaining her chainsaw ticket. She has always loved the green fields of Herefordshire so the couple moved there in 2008.
Both harbouring a love for coppicing and traditional crafts alongside a passion for our British woodland they realised they wanted to put their talents together to create something sustainable and beautiful. That being the case, 6 years ago Say It With Wood was born.
Gap in the market
They hired a yard in Stoke Lacey and found that they had stumbled upon a gap in the market because business was booming. In those early days they used any wood available to them – lots of oak and ash. They focused on restoring under managed coppice for firewood and crafting various garden products.
However the durability of Chestnut made it the wood that both Toby and Aly knew they needed to find if their business was to be a long term success. As Chestnut is the perfect fencing material, Toby spent many hours on the phone badgering contacts to try and find the perfect patch. When finally the couple found a decent Chestnut supply they now had the quality of wood that allowed them to offer fencing supply and installation; an avenue which has now become their speciality. Tapping into the market for chestnut fencing meant that Say It With Wood were slowly gaining a stellar reputation regionally.
Working with the public
Links with The Forestry Commission and The National Trust led to working with public rather than private woodland. This meant Say it With Wood had come of age – both Toby and Aly became fully qualified at this time. Aly even received a Women in Work grant from Lantra to help the business improve. Working with a national company meant lots of networking for Toby and Aly and even more recognition for the business.
The orders coming their way from the new contacts meant they needed to expand their team. It was at this time that one of the company’s particularly large garden bench was purchased by a local events company, which introduced Toby and Aly to Rob Nosworthy. Traditionally a soft wood fencer and landscaper, Rob was destined to become Say It With Wood’s longest serving employee. As luck would have it, very soon after Will Tomkins got in touch with the company looking for work. The addition of Will to the Say It With Wood family meant they could now offer forestry services and expand their clientele.
Since then Say it With Wood have gone from strength to strength and the popularity and durability of their fencing product has kept the orders coming in and the couple very busy.
Move to Bromyard
In 2010 Toby and Aly moved to their yard in Bromyard where their office is based and all the paling orders are processed. But after a few years there, needing more work space and more help in 2014 they opened a new yard at Leighton Court in Much Cowarne. Now they able to invite members of the public to come and view the products being made, and buy from the stock they have already available. If you fancy coming to meet the team then pop and see us at Leighton Court Tues – Thurs 9-5.
Some of the highlights over the years have included securing contracts with The Environment Agency, Hereford Nature Trust and Gloucester Wildlife. In 2008 they joined the crew of Nozstock Festival, helping to run the event’s craft area and fireside folk jam as well as making various benches and garden products for the festival. Say It With Wood are even an award winning company bagging The 3 Counties Best Trade Stand award in 2010 and the Silver Award in 2013. In May 2013 Toby was invited to be a Director of the National Coppice Federation which aims to bring together coppice groups around the country and provide a unified voice for the industry.
These days, no matter how big the company gets they still have a focus on local industry, top quality sustainable products and offering a friendly, approachable service that is missing from some national companies. Actively encouraging customers to call and discuss their orders, there is nothing they love more than a good natter about natural materials and garden projects.