When Preston Hutchings brought a piece of furniture into Bermuda Stripping and Refinishing (BS&R Group) last year to be restored, it was a moment that brought the history of the business full circle.

The antique butler table had been fashioned from Bermuda cedar at a mill shop started by Hutchings’s great grandfather more than a century ago on the very site where BS&R stands today, on Middle Road, Devonshire. Anthony Madeiros, Jr., general manager of BS&R, explains: “It was nice to see that piece come back in. It was made in this building and it has stayed in the Hutchings family all that time. There has been a mill shop at this site continuously for 120 years.”

Bermuda Stripping and Refinishing was started by Anthony’s father, Tony, 48 years ago. Over the decades it has earned a reputation for high quality that Anthony attributes to his father’s skill, diligence and meticulousness. “My dad’s known for being particular about every detail of every joint—he will spend a long time working even on things that are never seen or noticed,” Anthony says proudly. “He’s a perfectionist—and that’s great. We’re always known for extreme quality, and he built that brand.”

Anthony started helping out in the family business from the age of 12, during summer and Christmas holidays. There was no cushy treatment for the boss’s son. From sweeping floors to pouring concrete to lifting and stacking heavy mahogany planks, as a youngster he was put through his paces doing the “grungy work.” “The thing I learnt from all that was discipline,” Anthony says. “Once you push through it even when your body’s killing you, if you can stay at it mentally, then you can learn how to make a shutter. No one explained that to me at the time, but that’s what I got out of that experience.” After going away to university to study business economics and sales and marketing, Anthony returned home to the family business in 2009. Soon after, Bermuda lurched into a recession. Work dried up at BS&R and staff were put on reduced hours. Anthony remembers it was a tough environment in which to learn new skills from colleagues who were wary of passing their knowledge on to the boss’s son, as they feared for their own job security. “No one knew what was going to happen with the business in the recession—we chewed up a lot of cash just to survive,” he recalls.

In 2013, John Madeiros, Anthony’s uncle, retired from BS&R. As managing director, he had led the administrative side, including quotes and accounts. Three weeks later, the bookkeeper left. Anthony tried his best to fill the void they left with the help of technology.

He learnt QuickBooks, an accounting software, and introduced Joinery Management Software (JMS) that builds detailed drawings into quotes. He also spent a semester at Bermuda College learning AutoCAD, a 2D and 3D computer-aided design software app. The investments in technology and learning enabled Anthony to modernise both the administrative and operational sides of the business.

Today BS&R is thriving. Anthony estimates the business generates 20 to 30 quotes on a typical day. The majority is millwork for high-end doors, window frames, pergolas, decking and railings, but the business continues to be best known for its restoration work. Headcount has climbed from six in the recession to fourteen today. Maintaining the reputation for excellence is heavily dependent on accessing the necessary talent. Even with technological aids, craftsmanship still matters. “Staff will make or break the business,” Anthony says. “You can have all the jobs you want, but if you don’t have the people to do it well, then you won’t succeed. When a key guy goes, you can’t just advertise in the paper and hire the first person that comes in. You’ve got to vet them and ensure they can deliver top quality.”

While most of the staff are from overseas, BS&R is always on the lookout for Bermudians with aptitude for the work and the right skills. “The main reason you don’t see many locals working in carpentry shops,” he adds, “is that the natural progression for a Bermudian carpenter is to spend a few years learning the trade and then start their own business.”

Tel: 441-236-2886 | Email: info@bsr.bm | Web: www.bsr.bm | Address: 99 Middle Road, Devonshire

Services: Custom carpentry, stripping and refinishing, antique restoration