Graeme Lance, the founder of Stoneage Ceramics was born in Perth Western Australia.
He left school early to help a struggling family make ends meet. When old enough to enter the workforce Graeme had only a few jobs before he quickly settled into a role of storeman and then sales at Jackson’s Drawing Supplies. He was entrusted with a VW “Combi” that had a large pencil on the roof and quickly became known around town. He famously made the papers when he “knocked the tip” of his pencil when driving under the Mt Lawley subway.
After Jackson’s Graeme set up a commercial chicken farm with his new bride Monika. This lasted a few years until bigger plans were hatched. In 1968 Graeme gathered his savings and opened his first housewares and stationary company called Tritex P/L. With his infectious personality Graeme managed to convince several venerable brands that he was the right person to represent their products in the Western Australian market. Some of these brands included Texta Markers, Bohemia Crystal and Stanley Rogers silverware. During these years Graeme built a successful agency business and also began to import his own product, mainly ceramic tableware and accessories, from Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
Notably in 1969 Graeme was invited to join a delegation that included Senior Merchants from Woolworths to travel to China, under escort, and view dinnerware that was available for purchase. The delegation travelled for days by rickety rail from Kowloon up to Beijing were they were shown product that was made in the local factories. They were told what, how many and at what cost they could buy the wares. The product was rudimentary and of poor quality but it was cheap and thus began a new era. These were pioneering times and Graeme is credited as being one of the founding Westerns who developed ties between the PRC and open market in dinnerware. Today he looks back on these days with fond regard. Many clients the world over have shared a laugh listening to Graeme retell stories of the trials and tribulation of a young man navigating China more than 40 years ago.
In 1982 Stoneage Ceramics (Aust) Pty. Ltd. was incorporated in Perth Western Australia to focus on this dinnerware and bakeware industry. Graeme built the company into a hugely successful importing and wholesale business serving the entire country with well-known brands like Living Art, Luminite and Essence. Graeme continued running Stoneage Australia until his retirement in 2006.
In the mid 90’s Graeme had a dream to venture offshore and set up a small office in Hong Kong. This became Stoneage Ceramics Int’l HK Ltd. The business began exporting dinnerware directly to a small number of Australian and New Zealand retailers.
Brendon Lance was schooled at Wesley College. After graduating in 1987 he immediately began operating out of his own store selling housewares and novelty items. The business grew to two stores by 1988. Brendon then joined a national food importer “Socomin Fine Foods” as a Merchandiser whereby he quickly entered the sales force. During his 3 years at Socomin he became the company’s most decorated salesman. Brendon was headhunted by Holdhuys P/L (a competitor) in 1990 to head up sales and within a year was offered the role of State Manager at the age of 24.
Looking for more opportunities outside of the food business Brendon turned offshore. With little more than a suitcase and some savings he set up life in Hong Kong in 1992. Initially working with Jenwick International Inc. (a US based textile company) Brendon was employed as International Marketing Director with the task of expanding the US business into foreign markets from its HK offices. Brendon successfully set up distributorships within the UK, Spain, Norway, Australia, Brazil, Panama and Argentina.
In 1996, during discussions with his Father, Brendon agreed to attempt the same global approach with the family business. The recently opened offices in Hong Kong became the springboard to a world market. During the next decade work was carried out building one of the most venerable suppliers of tableware to major retailers and wholesales in the world today.
Operations were set up in South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and the USA with turnover reaching more than $30 million. After Graeme retired Brendon began re-structuring by divesting or selling these distributorships and private operations to third parties; many of whom continue to buy and promote the Stoneage Brands. The view was to simplify the business and focus on the company’s core competencies namely “design” and “production”. Today Stoneage Ceramics is widely known as an exclusive specialist providing private label services to the world’s most famous retailers and brands.