We asked our MD, David, to look back at his time in the furniture industry and give us an idea of how things have changed…
“I first started in the furniture industry in 1985 as a salesman for a UK manufacturer of desks, storage and executive furniture.
Strangely in those days, there were no mobile phones and very few computers, so electric typewriters, fax and telex machines were the best we could work with.
A company car, loads of very poor quality and basic literature and a copy of the current Yellow Pages were our tools, cold calling and advertising were the means to generate sales opportunities.
The furniture was very basic, our offering was panel end desks with a range of veneers for the finish. Cable management was not even considered.
Since then there has been constant change in design, materials, colours, finishes and the use of IT.
Now with the industry moving towards wellness in the workplace, agile and remote working, health and safety, compliance in all guises, environmental issues and sustainability, to name but a few, there are so many other factors to consider.
What is essentially a simple product is becoming a complex industry for all in the supply chain, from the initial design through to onsite completion.
In the early days the number of suppliers or competitors was much lower and foreign manufacturers were limited, now the industry is extremely competitive with companies working locally from all over the globe.
With tighter margins and reduced costs for product, survival and market share have become tougher, with some companies excelling to become dominant.
Office furniture purchasing used to be handled by the MD’s secretary, someone from purchasing or just simply the person who volunteered. Now experienced buyers or facilities teams are more knowledgeable about products, value, quality, styles and trends.
There has been significant growth in design and build companies, facilities management service suppliers, super dealers providing services and packages to the large corporates, the importance of Clerkenwell as a design district and the many A&D companies working on projects all over the world.
Finally we must also remind ourselves of how technology has impacted on our jobs, the work environment and daily lives. Mobile phones, Internet, computers and now virtual reality are impacting on the space we use and our work practices, the changes are rapid and taking us in new directions – exciting times, but I wonder how we will be working in 30 years time.
Websites, e-commerce, social media, e-mails – all factors in the new digital age we have moved into.
The industry has always been exciting, working in buildings of interest and importance, with internationally known companies or organisations and being involved in design and fashion trends.”
A great insight into how our industry has changed David – it feels much more fast paced now, with little downtime and constant communication. We’re sure there are pros and cons however we work, but we love our vibrant, dynamic environment!