Most business owners are keen to demonstrate their product's durability. Not so Duncan Hamilton. Having run his eponymous ice-sculpting business for 25 years, he takes pride in the ephemeral quality of his work. But that makes it difficult to show it to potential clients. So when his son Jamie - company director and fellow sculptor - suggested going online, Duncan was ready to give it a try. 'It seemed to be the way to get the right exposure,' he says.
Since launching in 1998, www.icesculpture.co.uk has helped the Hamiltons carve up the competition. 'Seventy-five per cent of first-time customers are now finding us through the web site,' Jamie enthuses. 'It enables us to show our work and hook people right away.' Both the client base and annual turnover have expanded by 30% since going online. 'We used to work mainly with bigger businesses,' says Jamie, 'but the web site attracts more SMEs and individuals.'
The creativity and high standard of their carvings is reflected in the quality of the web site design. 'It is noticeably better than any of the opposition's,' asserts Jamie. 'Film and advertising people particularly like it.' And going online has also increased their global appeal. 'An executive was even sent over from Brazil by someone wanting to set up an ice sculpting business,' says Jamie. A Brazilian ice sculpture? Wouldn't that be a pool of water?