A drum maker from County Durham is making international noise having started out of his home garage.
44-year-old Andrew Street has been drumming since his early teens, and turned his hand to drum making as a hobby while working a day job in IT.
The part-time interest soon turned into a full-time business, prompting Mr Street to leave his career and begin trading as Liberty Drums.
From his Shildon workshop, Mr Street now supplies high-end custom drum kits across the world, through major retailers such as Amazon and Guitar Center.
His brand has attracted high profile artists requesting signature drums especially made by Liberty, and has even produced a promotional Virgin Media branded kit, which takes pride of place in the company’s London headquarters.
Mr Street said: “Most people presume we’re US-based. When they find out we’re in Shildon they have to ring us up to give themselves a reality check.”
As a young drummer Mr Street wanted to know why more expensive drum kits produced a better sound, and researched the art of drum making for himself.
Inspired by his engineer father, who had worked for Rolls Royce, Mr Street taught himself the craft and began producing and selling snare drums on a small scale from home.
Growing interest led Mr Street to register the brand Liberty Drums in 2006. His operation has since grown from its garage roots via premises in Newton Aycliffe to its current 2,000 sq ft operation at Dabble Duck Industrial Estate, where Mr Street works alongside another craftsmen and a trainee.
Mr Street explained: “Our USP is making our own shells. There are thousands of drum makers out there, but most will buy their shells from craftsmen, before assembling their own look.
“We import the timber and form the shells ourselves. It’s a very traditional method and one that is commonly recognised by musicians to produce the best sounds.”
The workshop produces between five and six kits and 20 individual snare drums in month
Support from UKTI has helped the brand break into international markets, as has endorsement of key musicians who can help to give Liberty’s products exposure on stage.
Mr Street explained: “I’m really learning the trade when it comes to endorsements. It’s all about identifying really active local and international musicians who can get my products out there, to places which I couldn’t reach.”
He added: “We’ve endorsed quite a few people in the States, which is a great market for us. Those guys love the craftsmanship angle to the brand, and its ‘Britishness’. If we ever exhibit at trade shows in the States, our flags will attract plenty of interest.”
The end game for Liberty Drums, Mr Street says, is business to business supply. He has recently recruited a trainee in order to accommodate future growth.