Sandown Furniture’s unique range of Afro-centric furniture has been very well received by the upper-middle end of the furniture market.

And, the demand for its contemporary classic and contemporary modern furniture is expected to grow, as the company continues to buck the trend of mass producing run-of-the-mill items for gain.

Jeni Edelman has been at the helm of the company for the past seven years, building on her father’s legacy which was his ability to quickly recognise novel trends in the market and respond accordingly, while avoiding run-of-the-mill designs.

“I grew up working with my father in this industry, and take great pride in having saw dust in my blood. I learnt everything I know from him, and have kept to his business policies. We do not want to make ‘boxy’ furniture, shying away from the mass-produced furniture market. We stick to what we know, and that is unique designs that appeal to a very different market, which we want to continue servicing to the best of our ability,” she says.

While Edelman continues ensuring that the company identifies market trends and is able to respond accordingly, she is joined by other strategic players that have refined Sandown Furniture’s design and manufacturing processes over the years.

Both design and production and the interaction between the two divisions has also been pivotal to the woodworker’s success over the years.

As Edelman explains, Sandown Furniture ensures it strikes a delicate balance between the unique designs generated by the company and the ability of the factory floor to execute them with existing resources.

In fact, the way in which the company strives to constantly optimise production while containing or even reducing costs was one of the very noticeable aspects of the operation when Wood Southern Africa & Timber Times visited there in mid-April.

Firstly, Errol Smith, general manager, of Sandown Furniture, runs the factory floor on a just-in and just-out system, keeping stock levels to an absolute minimum. This includes the board that is sourced from PG Bison, which is also used to manufacture the company’s well-known Contempo range of furniture.

“One of the ways in which we have been able to contain costs at a time when other inputs keep climbing is by reducing our stock levels on both fronts. It has kept us lean, especially at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty in the South African economy,” he says.

Smith says the company processes between 120 to 240 boards a week, completing 100 Contempo furniture units a day at its factory, which was recently expanded to 1 500m2 under roof.

As Smith notes, another challenge in keeping a lean factory is ensuring the correct balance between labour-based and automated production. The company’s organic and rounded designs, as well as specialised finishes call for a certain number of workers. At present, Sandown Furniture employs just under 30 people.

The cutting of the various items is automated, with the production line featuring two computer-numerical controlled machining centres (CNC). More recently, Sandown Furniture added a new nesting machine to its line to help keep up with the ongoing demand for its products.

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