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Featured in the July 2011 issue

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160 years is a long history to chronicle for any business but the story of Masons and its evolution into the successful firm it is today, perfectly illustrates the commercial ebbs and flows of the past decades and an enduring ability to serve its customers in the local community.

Masons offices are located in a handsome, Georgian town house which stands in a prime position at the head of the Cornmarket, in the centre of Louth.

Founded by William Ludlam Mason in 1850, Masons began by offering auctioneering, land agency and valuation services to Louth and its surrounding rural community and this still comprises their core activity today. The company remained largely unchanged in this model up to the end of the 1980s. David Williams, the current Senior Partner, left his Welsh homeland in the 1960s to join Masons and became a partner in 1970. David oversaw the various mergers, acquisitions and demergers which began in 1980 and ended in the mid 1990s which has resulted in the firm of Masons today. David’s son, Simon Williams, is now Managing Partner and he has overseen the reestablishment of the agency side of the business since 2004 and the growth of the range of services and number of staff to the present twenty-one.

“While Masons has been here for 160 years, we are an outward looking modern agency and professional practice, who maintain the traditional values that people associate with such a long established business,” Simon explained.

“The company has served successive generations of local families and I am proud that we are part of that continuity.”

The company now runs as three distinct divisions; Property agency and Lettings, the rural property Professional Consultancy and the Livestock Market, the latter of which is in partnership with Willsons Chartered Surveyors.

The firm is a long established provider of land and rural services. Clients choose from a portfolio of professional and management services and advice including land agency, estate management, valuations for all purposes, farming advice, business administration, tax planning and land or building planning services. Masons have become particularly well known for their specialism in the sale, letting or purchase of rural and equestrian properties in recent years.

“We found that equestrian and residential property sales are another natural extension background in land agency. We have been able to give a professional service, tailored to meet each client’s financial circumstances and lifestyle choice.” Simon said. 

Masons incorporates both a sales and lettings agency for residential properties. Simon’s mother, Patricia Williams, is still involved in the lettings agency named after her, which began with thirty properties and has now grown to hundreds on its books. Simon can see that there is still plenty of scope for the lettings business. “We are finding that there is both the demand for good properties to let and new landlords coming into the market. We offer the professional attention to management detail in a now highly regulated sector which is required for both tenant and landlord to achieve a happy long standing relationship,” he said.

Auctioneering and the cattle section at Louth Livestock Market is very much David Williams’ domain together with their business partner Russell Jeanes whom operate the cattle at the last livestock market in Lincolnshire. Held every Thursday, the market sells cattle and sheep and the last year has seen volumes increase and prices improve. This could be because of the general improvement in the viability of livestock farming but also hauling livestock out of the country makes less economic sense and adds to the food miles debate!

There had been the threat of the land which the market occupies being sold by the local authority but organisations such as the ‘Keep Louth Special’ campaign have fought to retain this link with traditional rural commerce within the town centre. 

Masons has invested in modern technologies, so as well as their town centre premises, a website acts as a portal to the three divisions. The company operates within a radius of approximately forty miles of Louth but the internet can bring enquiries from across the UK and beyond. No one area of the practice operates in isolation and expertise from one part of the business can be accessed to advise or provide a service to clients from further afield.

“This works especially well for us when clients wish to invest in land or rural property or businesses, we offer a personal service to identify investment opportunities and then advise how best they can be developed and managed,” Simon commented.

While Masons has a family business feel, not all the partners are family members. Russell Jeanes, a Partner, is an experienced rural professional while Tim Needham, who is a Professional Associate, is an agri business consultant. Simon Demery is head of the property agency and William Tyson, Professional Assistant, is an auctioneer and land agent; Daniel Jobe, Professional Assistant has wide ranging experience of the broad spectrum of services the firm offers. “We have a wealth of wide ranging knowledge and expertise within our team and combine this with our local knowledge we are well placed to advise on rural matters affecting the farmers and landowners and the wider community, not just for today but for many years ahead,” Simon concluded.

For the next decade of the company, Masons hope to continue to work within, support and invest in the local community. They are enthusiastic sponsors of classes at Hainton Gymkhana, Revesby Show and Woodhall Spa Show and the Lincolnshire show where several members of staff steward and get involved.  Hopefully there will be a sustained period of profitability and investment returning to the farming sector and Masons will be there, as they have been for more than a century and a half, to provide planning, diversification, auctioneering, professional consultancy and management services to the next generation of twenty-first century landowners and farmers.

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