Most of us take our garden tools for granted. But if you use a Greenman tool, you’re working the ground with a little bit of history discovers Sue Cade
Based in Newton Abbot, the business was founded in 1972 by Don and Eileen Winter, both with fine pedigrees in tool making. Their son, Chris Greenman, joined in 1974 – he was often seen with tools strapped to him as he delivered them on his trusty motorbike. Chris is now Managing Director and his own son, Adam, is determined to make his mark on the business, too.
Adam grew up with tools. He remembers carrying billhooks and loading up the delivery van when he was just seven years old. He spent his childhood outdoors, digging up worms and getting grubby. He firmly believes in the importance of those experiences today.
So Adam has taken the business back to its roots with heritage tools, revisiting the standards of older-style tools that lasted a lifetime and were passed down the generations. This doesn’t mean that manufacturing standards are compromised. With the closure of many British forges, the company currently outsources manufacture of the stainless-steel tool heads to China – but this is not mass production. Instead, the manufacturing facility is a small, family-run business, which Adam visits twice a year. He is also looking at bringing at least some of the metal manufacture back to the UK, in particular Sheffield.
So what’s really different about Greenman tools? For one thing, they have a unique lipped socket, giving strength to the tool. Then there’s the ergonomic range, where the handle has been slightly bent to improve performance – the bend means less backache owing to a more efficient transfer of power from hand to tool. And where many garden tool manufacturers have been making their tool handles shorter − despite the fact that the population is getting taller − Greenman are making theirs longer. The wood used is sustainable European ash.
Greenman Garden Tools supplies to some impressive outlets, including Liberty of London, for whom they produced a range of hand tools. Locally, you can find Greenman tools in garden centres like Otter Nurseries and St Bridgets.
For customers who like to deal with a family business, not only is Adam the latest in a long line of toolmakers, but the firm also employs several local families – mother and daughter working in the office, father and son in the warehouse. It’s all about closeness and loyalty. The passion in the business is obvious, from the quality of the tools to the welcome you receive in the showroom, where customers can take their time with a cuppa, and a slice of homemade cake.
Adam and his family are ardent about making tools that endure, tools that are practical and tools that will keep generation after generation in the garden, working the land. If you believe things should be made to last, Greenman makes the garden tools for you.
Devon Home is published by We Make Magazines, a family-owned Devon company. The only specialist interiors magazine for the county, Devon Home is a celebration of homes, gardens and interiors, with expert information from local designers, architects and craftspeople. Together with our Devon-based writers and sales team, we show you how to improve and love your living space.
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