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.

Alin Cristescu, founder of Fin Wood

The quality of wooden boards can be determined by their length, the number of alterations made and the size of the bevels, the term for a diagonal or angled cut through the wood. “A poorly made board will have large bevels to hide the inaccuracy of the cut in the manufacturing process. When it’s properly cut, a quality wooden floor will have very small bevels, which means that the first sanding will be minimal and so the floor will have a great lifespan,” he says.

“For quality installation, there are two aspects to think about: how it looks on the surface - details of how it goes around doors and meets other floors - and how it looks underneath. The subfloor is crucial for long lasting floors. It needs to be flat and free of moisture.”

Alin and his team pride themselves on their workmanship and punctuality. “When I schedule a project with a customer, we’re there on the dot at 8am with our materials and everything we need to get started.”

The bank for small businesses

Fin Wood became a Starling business customer in 2020. “It’s just so handy, everything is as it should be.” he says.

“The notifications from the app mean that I know what’s happening with the account constantly. I don’t need to have various savings accounts - I can just use Spaces. And I don’t have to wait 24 hours for transactions to be reported in the app - it’s instant. Customer Service is also very prompt and helpful and the QuickBooks integration is wonderful.”

Starling business customers can also link their account with Xero or FreeAgent. Alternatively, they can do their bookkeeping through the Starling Business Toolkit, which costs £7 per month. Our regular business accounts have no monthly fees and can be opened by sole traders or limited companies. “Starling is doing such a great job - congratulations,” says Alin.

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