When Anthony Skliros first arrived in Australia he fell into the stone industry after taking a job at the Footscray quarry. This led to working at a monumental company where he learnt the trade.

Recognising the need for a Greek speaking monumental mason who understood the Greek Orthodox traditions and requirements in regards to burials and monuments, Anthony took the next big step and started his own company.

In 1969 Anthony established the first Greek-speaking monumental company in Melbourne: Anthony & Preston Memorials.

This lay the foundation for the family’s strong roots in the Victorian stone industry and after years of trailing his father through the stone dust Anthony’s son Peter followed in his footsteps.

Spending everyday before and after school following his father around the factory, Peter quickly learnt the basics of the job, completed his formal qualification to become a Master Stonemason 24 years ago and has been running the family business together with Anthony ever since.

Recognising the demand for a superior paving and building product, the company built a dimension stone facility at the site of a bluestone quarry in Lara, Victoria, which saw the birth of Victorian Bluestone Quarries in 1999.

“We have since established a strong local and international clientele base consisting of councils, architects, landscapers and construction companies. Together we run both businesses,” Anthony says.

The head office, based at the original site in Coburg, operates two factories, while an office in Mulgrave services clients in the South-Eastern suburbs.

“We specialise as monumental masons, manufacturing and erecting custom made monuments and plaques in all cemeteries throughout Victoria. We also cater to all cultures and nationalities,” Anthony says.

In the bluestone side the business specialises in the quarrying and processing of local Australian bluestone for use as council paving and residential landscaping. The most common requests for monuments are black or charcoal granites, however there are occasional requests for white marbles or more exotic green or maroon granites, Anthony says.

“It takes approximately three months to create a monument, from ordering of the stone to final installation. All monuments are customs designed in consultation with our clients, colours are decided and lettering and final details are all constructed according to our customers requirements,” he says.

Monument trends have not changed a great deal over the years, however cemetery regulations and OH&S requirements have improved the industry and created some restrictions in the design style allowed by the cemeteries, Anthony says.

A gradual decline in the number of qualified Stonemasons in the industry makes it difficult when recruiting new employees, Anthony says.

However the Skliros business is a full family affair. “Our business employs all six members of the Skliros family and while working in a family comes with its challenges, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages,” Anthony says.

“Working with our family has created a strong bond and equal determination as we work towards to the same goal. Good communication and understanding is essential as is planning for the future”.

The job can be challenging at times when speaking with emotional clients who have lost a loved one, Anthony says. “We approach our position in a gentle and understanding manner, paying the utmost respect to the family and memory of their loved one”.

The increase in cheap inferior imports from China is another industry challenge, but Anthony insists Anthony & Preston Memorials and Victorian Bluestone Quarries will remain loyal to Australia.

“Our bluestone is a local Australian stone and a traditional Victorian building product and we will continue to promote Australian products and Australian industry and employment into the future”.