2017 – The Year For Us to Shine

To all our readers, we at Renowned wish you all a Safe and Prosperous New Year!

Restored Dining Suite

With each new year, comes a time for reflection and goal setting. Reflection for us is the constant warnings that this industry niche of master craftsmen/custom made, fine furniture pieces is on notice. On notice to keep sharp, remain vigilant and mind your business!

Every year, we are contacted by liquidators, business owners and industry groups to see if we’d be interested in buying a pile of second-hand equipment that suits our business due to ‘xyz furniture makers’ or  ‘abc furniture restorers’ going out of business – some voluntarily and some being wound up.

So, needless to say, we keep getting these reminders to do the following: Get back to the basics: Look after your staff, “cashflow is king”.

I’ve always liked that saying but I feel like it lacks follow up so my interpretations as follows: profit is queen and good will is princess and prince, duchess and duke, marchioness and marquees, countess and earl, viscountess and viscount and the baroness and baron!

Custom made bar Stools

In the past 3 years, Renowned has worked very hard to increase sales, and we have done so to the tune of 60% growth, then 40% and this financial year, we’re on track to achieve a further 30% growth.

Custom made bar stool

Sounds like a lot, but to put it into perspective, when I purchased this business back in 2012, it was turning over a mere $200K and profit margins were all but non-existent! So really, the business survived on love, love of creating fine pieces, love of running one’s own business and love of interacting with great/like-minded people.

Hopefully, we have managed to keep a little love alive since our take-over (we certainly get that vibe from a lot of our clients once they take delivery of their completed pieces and our suppliers).

But just as importantly is that this business is now paying its staff some of the highest craftsmen wages in Brisbane, providing them with the best possible working conditions and paying its directors (myself & my wife) a reasonable fee along with benefits for our efforts so our goals are almost met!

We still have a way to go. Margins could be better (always!) and we do lose jobs purely on price from time to time (sometimes you have to simply say: “we can’t afford to do that job”).

So we work towards better flow in the workshop: Time in motion studies, cleaner working conditions: Helps with WHS, motivation & quality and better admin systems: Document every phase of the process, keep all the staff trained so that multi-tasking comes naturally and so that the business can function without you! (the directors!).

Sample Business Plan

Keeping a business plan up to date and alive as well as a succession plan to follow is also extremely important when you are headed towards the goals ones sets!!

2017 is the year of automation for us. Automate the parts ordering, client forms, job forms, quality control & scheduling. A 60 page “Renowned furniture instruction manual” is almost completed and it becomes a very powerful and very valuable document when anyone on the staff can pick it up, follow certain sections and execute a job from initial call/email enquiry, all the way through material ordering, set out, build to delivery & invoicing.

Sample Operations Manual

For me, it’s been an interesting journey – from developing a highly successful business in mining & engineering spanning 25 years, then selling it as a going concern to this, my passion. Something with texture and feeling but clearly, I still need to keep my business head on at times…

 

2016 Highlights – A Look Back at Notable Jobs This Year

The end of the year is coming up fast, and it’s the time of the year that we, here at Renowned Furniture, look back at the projects, big and small, that we have done throughout the year.

One of several big projects that we did this year is the plywood seating and tables commissioned by the School of Architecture of the University of Queensland. They are multi-use pieces for the students’ common area that can be turned upside down and used as artwork stands as well.

The school was very pleased with our work that they ordered more seatings and tables – and we delivered!

Custom made Tables and Seats

Another major job for us was an order to design, manufacture and polish more than $40,000 worth of fine, commercial furniture for a major international supply & fit out company.

From sketches to the real thing!

Renowned has also gone musical this year. Who would have thought – from fine furniture to musical instruments!

In the latest transformation for Sam’s Harpsichord, which dates back to the early 13th century, we added some turned legs and a fresh look.

This newly restored harp is ready to make beautiful music once again!

Below, an imported concert harp, valued at over $30,000, was damaged either in transit or from bad packaging. So, Tan charged us with “making it look like new again.”

We finished repolishing this beautiful concert harp without incident.

Lastly, we were given the job of bringing a 1898 Ibach ¾ grand piano back to its former glory. This piano is a family heirloom, having been with them since its original purchase in the 1870s.

During this process we unearthed several “sins”, hiding beneath layers of polish, that previous restorers had committed on this beloved family heirloom.

We completed the complex and delicate restoration of this grand piano – a true testament to the skill and expertise of our master craftsmen.

We’ve been busy this year, and the coming year is shaping up to be even busier.

We’re not complaining, though. We are up to the challenge, so keep ‘em coming!

 

Fine Furniture: Buy local or buy global?

Support importers or try buying local where possible? It’s important to be fully aware of what you’re buying to be sure your investment is in the product and not in the costs of getting it here. The pictures scattered throughout this Newsletter are of a bed we were asked to work on.

They say copying is the best form of flattery: We know ourselves that we (our designs) have been copied more times than we can recall.

William’s dream:

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William came to us with a product that he liked. However,  there were a couple of drawbacks and he requested some guidance. We provided a mix of our design and the concept he gave us to arrive at a compromise. Most importantly, a finished product within 6 weeks rather than something like 6 months.

You see, in these times, importers are taking less risks and only importing consolidated shipments and where possible as much “pre-sold” as they can to minimise their exposure. Funny thing is, our price was comparative to the imported unit anyway.

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The other big issue is this: Perhaps too many of us overlook the fact that buying a product from the USA or UK or Italy brings with it a premium price based on our assumptions or perceptions that the quality is of the highest standards, whereas perhaps some of the similar or comparative products sourced from some Asian countries come at a lower price and possibly, or therefore, a lower quality.

This is no longer the case. Much of what we buy from the US, Europe, etc. has been made in SE/Asia, shipped to the country where its design origins rest and then on-shipped to wherever (including Australia), so in many cases, you’re paying for a whole lot of freight and logistics together with a name.(that promises quality) rather than a product “made in Italy” wherever else.

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The Asian countries I refer to have vastly lifted their game, their quality standards and in many cases, their treatment of workers as well, so we are inevitably moving towards a global village where Asia (for a start) is cementing itself as one of the major manufacturing hubs within that village. I, personally, see a lot of good coming from this, but I also like to point out to folks that pass through my door, some of the facts discussed here so that if they do wish to consider buying local, they are at the very least, well informed.

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Renowned Furniture employ some of the finest master craftsmen in south east Queensland with several years’ experience in all facets of traditional, fine furniture making, French polishing and furniture restoration. Our award winning quality and finish is second to none. Furniture made or restored by Renowned will last a lifetime. (or two!)

Renowned wins another major contract – Update 1

In the last newsletter, we announced winning a contract with a big company. From the 3D renders, here are some of the progress shots for you.

Progress is good and we are very busy beavers at present! American walnut, solid core veneer, German cabinet hardware and fine polishing finishes are being added, all to make for some really high class fit out furniture.

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One of the timber file drawer sets and a section of the large Credenza. Large timber cupboard with file drawers. Every piece is grain matched!

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Renowned wins another major contract

Renowned Furniture are pleased to announce the winning of a very significant contract with a major international supply & fit out company.

From our Director, Dan Valmadre:

After nearly 200 emails, 6 meetings, 20 to 30 concept drawings, the signing of a legally binding IP assignment agreement and approximately 165 man hours at our end to address all the requirements, Renowned won the order to design, manufacture and polish more than $40,000 worth of fine, commercial furniture.

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Along the way, many of the hours put in were invested for the longer term as we developed a ‘shopping list’ of options, fostered a relationship which carries concepts for the future contracts we hope to be part of.

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“We’re on trial right now, Valmadre said, and we intend to come out the other side of this first contract with the “Wow factor” that Renowned furniture are known (“Renowned”!!) for.

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As you can see throughout these concept sketches, shapes, sizes, custom American walnut finishes and so on, are not the types of pieces readily available ‘off the shelf’ and while the pieces are not masterpieces of design, they are fit for purpose, finely made to last a lifetime and meet a budget requirement which addresses the many motives we dealt with along the way to get to this point.

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Watch out for the next installment of this project: progress shots of the pieces as they are being made, and considering the destination for this first order is interstate, perhaps we’ll pop down to see how it all looks once it’s commissioned!

Congratulations to the 2016 AFIA Winners!

Renowned were proud to be nominated as finalists in the AFIA awards this year. Our boys did us proud, however, we were not the winners this year.

Hindi shrine cabinet, fireplace & console table

Hindi shrine cabinet, fireplace & console table

Well done to the boys at Smith & Gray for their winning piece, the Cigar Humidor – AFIA Residential Free Standing Occasional. I had the pleasure to get up close to this fine piece – what a truly stunning piece of fine craftsmanship.

Congratulations also to Falecki Furniture for their Hinoki Dining Set – winner of 3 awards: AFIA Residential Free Standing Dining Award, AFIA People’s Choice Awards and AFIA Best of the Best.

A deserved win for these stunning pieces of furniture.

Humidor, Dining set

Humidor, Dining set

Thanks from customers; AFIA nominations

One of the things that motivate us to continue striving for excellence in our work is the thanks we receive from our customers.

Here’s one from Julie:

“I wanted to thank you for dropping the furniture back to our home. Appreciate the flexibility shown in doing that. My apologies for not coming back to you earlier this week.

We are really pleased with the restoration work done. It looks great and it is wonderful to know that the furniture will have an extended life and is preserved. We are particularly impressed with the drinks cabinet – it looks amazing, like a very expensive piece of furniture – and the small chest of drawers my father had made me all of those years ago – it has come up so well and feels much better constructed.

Please pass on my thanks to the team for their care and skill.

Regards
Julie

Restored chest of drawers and drinks cabinet

The chest of drawers and drinks cabinet we did for Julie

Recently from Neville:

“I transferred the Money to your bank tonight. Thanks again for a terrific job.”
Regards,

Neville

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Progress shot of Neville’s pine chest of drawers

And another one from Stephen:

“Dear Dan, Just a short word , the hand rails look superb. On behalf of my beautiful wife Christine we would both like to thank you and Simon for a professional job well done. Every now and again a company comes along that is simple yet effective, whose work is modest yet memorable. Yours is such a company. Once again, many thanks. – Stephen.

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The hand rails we did for Stephen and his wife

Meanwhile…

Email Signature AFIA

Renowned has been nominated for several categories at the 2016 Australian Furniture Industry Awards.

One of the sub-categories in which we are nominated is the People’s Choice! Here, the Australian public decides who will win.

Help us win by liking one of our entries: Cedar Consult by Renowned

Custom made console table

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One lucky voter selected at random will win a $600 voucher to spend on a wall mural from Pickawall.

Two of our furniture pieces that are also nominated are:

Cedar Fireplace by Renowned

Custom made Fireplace

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Silver Ash Hindi Shrine by Renowned Furniture

Custom made Hindi shrine cabinet

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Renowned has been nominated!

We have been lucky to be nominated for several pieces of furniture we submitted to the 2016 Australian Furniture Industry Awards.

You’ve probably seen those pieces featured on our blog.

One of the sub-categories at the awards show is the People’s Choice, in which the Australian public decides who win.

Please take time to LIKE one of our entries. One voter selected at random will win a $600 voucher to spend on a wall mural from Pickawall. 

Links are below:

 

Custom made console table

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Custom made Fireplace

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Custom made Hindi shrine cabinet

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