The Cristescu family have been wood craftsmen for three generations. “My earliest memory of my grandfather’s workshop is the smell of the wood,” says Alin Cristescu, founder of Fin Wood. “My grandfather worked a lot with pine and oak, using traditional equipment, most of which he made himself. There were lots of hand held tools.”
Alin, 38, set up his business in 2013 after moving to London from Romania. Fin Wood offers hardwood floor installation and restoration, stair cladding and floor sanding.
“I used to be an office person,” he says. “When I finished university, I worked in sales for five years and then moved to logistics, covering transport, warehousing and storage - experience that has proved very useful for running my business.”
In 2012, he became an apprentice to his uncle, who owned and ran a wood flooring company. “I learned how to handle the tools and technical elements and gradually began to learn how to install the floors.”
Growing a business in Britain
For the first four years, he did everything himself and reinvested in new tools whenever he could. “At first, I couldn’t afford to pay someone to work alongside me. But as the jobs became more complicated, I needed someone to help,” he says. “My cousin’s brother-in-law was looking for work and even though he didn’t know how to do floors, I knew that he was dedicated. I trained him and he’s still with me today.”
Fin Wood consists of three workmen and a freelance SEO specialist who helps promote their services on Google and social media.
His advice for anyone who wants to start a business is to prepare for a hard grind. “You have to make sacrifices - your time, energy, thoughts - to make it work.”
Slow and steady wins the race
When it came to choosing a name for his business, Alin used the Swedish word ‘Fin’, meaning elegant, polished or fine, to highlight the quality of his work. “The wood we use comes from a British based factory, supplied by a forest in Romania,” he says.