WoodBlocX – a family business

When you’re looking for a British company that has form and pedigree, they don’t come much better than WoodBlocX. Based at the Munro Sawmills in Dingwall in the Highlands of Scotland, WoodBlocX is a division of a family business that started more than 120 years ago. A pioneering woman called Elsie Smith opened a timber supplies business in the area in 1890, and today the sawmill is one of the largest producers of fencing panel components in the UK.

Elsie’s great-great-great-grandchildren are still working in the family business and Henry Blake runs the WoodBlocX side of things. The idea for WoodBlocX resulted from a  collaboration between his father, Philip Blake, and Norman Fawcett, who between them saw that gardeners needed an easy-to-construct modular timber system for raised beds and other garden builds.

Products don’t get much more British than WoodBlocX – the wood is grown in the UK, then processed and made in the Munro Sawmill. It is a British innovation that’s not only transforming people’s gardens but also providing jobs and opportunities in a rural area and bringing much-needed income to the local economy, proving that the Highlands of Scotland are about more than just tourism and whisky!

However, it’s not all been plain sailing for the company. Although the initial prototypes were developed quickly and successfully, once WoodBlocX got them into the shops, the outcome wasn’t what they were hoping for. They were initially only sold through big stores like Wickes and B&Q, who added a fair bit to the price, which put the BlocX out of reach of most people’s budgets. Consequently sales never really took off, and the company was put to bed while the family had a rethink.

In 2010 WoodBlocX were back, but this time selling direct to the customer through their website. Not only that, they managed to negotiate the tricky BBC Dragon’s Den to acquire funding and advice. Many more companies leave the Den empty handed than successful, so it was a real boost to have independent, expert confirmation that WoodBlocX was a good product. They were able to re-orientate the company to provide a better, personal service and a much wider range of products. Selling directly – through the website and over the phone – to clients large and small means that customers get the choice of over 2,000 kits or creating their own bespoke design, something that would never have been possible through the big retailers. And it’s much cheaper for the customer too! By buying WoodBlocX, you are supporting a great British family business.

  • 1890

    Elsie Smith starts timber supplies business in Scotland.
  • 2001

    Philip Blake together with Norman Fawcett developed WoodBlocX.
  • 2010

    Launch of WoodBlocX direct sales from our website and over the phone.
  • 2017

    The award winning WoodBlocX system sells over 2 million components in a single year.