After serving his apprenticeship as a monumental mason in Aberdeen, followed by a period of seasonal working in Barre, Vermont, USA, Alexander Robertson returned home in 1876, and with savings he had earned from working in the States, joined forces with another mason, Mr Gray, and set up their own stonecutters business.
In 1876 there were 37 different granite firms. Most of these firms were made from short lived and ever changing partnerships. Like most other partnerships, Robertson and Gray did not last. In 1878 Alexander Robertson continued business on his own, based at 259 King Street on the corner of St Clair Street. Sixty years later in 1936, when Alexander's grand-son Sandy entered the business, the firm still occupied this site. By the end of this decade, the firm had grown and Alexander rented a second yard in St Clair Street, employed a number of operatives, and had customers throughout Scotland and the North of England.
After only 10 successful years in business, Alexander died suddenly in 1886, at the age of 45. His son George, at the age of 25 took over the responsibility of running the business, with his second wife Jane inheriting ownership of the other half. The company changed its name from Alex Robertson, to Alex Robertson & Son.
The three surviving sons of Alexander Robertson's second marriage, Norman, William and John, joined their stepbrother and learned about the industry. They all served their time in the family business, and when they had completed their respective apprenticeships, the company name changed to Alex Robertson & Sons.
On 1st February 1951 Alex Robertson & Sons bought over James Taggart & Son, of Great Western Road. At this time James Taggart & Son had a workforce of about twelve men and a bigger premises at 92 Great Western Road, which soon became Alex Robertson & Sons head office and works.
William Robertson died in 1958 at the age of 77. Sandy had effectively been in charge of the day to day running of the firm since his return home after the war, and was therefore well equipped to head the family business on his father's death. He soon realised that in order to survive in the ever increasingly competitive international granite market, not only would they have to expand the business, but also they would have to consider joining forces with other local granite firms.
In 1960, the company opened up their first branch out with Aberdeen in the small town of Buckie. One of the main competitors in Aberdeen at that time was a company called James Robertson & Son, of 393 Hardgate (no relation). The son, Bill Robertson, was keen to go into partnership with Sandy over the purchase of Buckie. Although Sandy preferred to embark on the Buckie venture by himself, two years later in 1962, both firms began talks of amalgamation again. On 1st March 1963, Alex Robertson & Sons merged with James Robertson & Son, and adopted the new name of A & J Robertson (Granite) Ltd.
After a period of ill health, Bill Robertson took early retirement on 30th June 1978, leaving Sandy Robertson as sole chairman and managing director. Sandy's son Graeme had joined the company in 1974 as a trainee manager.
On 10th January 1984 Graeme was appointed joint managing director with his father who remained chairman. Sandy retired from full time work in 1989 and Graeme was appointed sole managing director. In 1999 when his father retired as non-executive chairman, Graeme became chairman and managing director of the firm, still holding this position today.
A & J Robertson (Granite) Ltd now has a total of 30 memorial branches and 3 fireplace centres around the UK.