Taking inspiration from innovative design practises, special materials and world-class machinery, Orchid Commercial Furniture pushes the boundaries of the manufacturing status quo. Here, 3Fold Resources CEO, Peter Vanderzaag, explains the benefits of combing the importation resources with local manufacturing, in order to provide a flexible and innovate approach to high-profile projects.
Words: Emily Sparshott
An ability to drive both innovation and productivity in a hard-pressed industry like manufacturing can seem like an impossible feat. In recent years, we have seen the collapse of some big-name Australian manufacturing brands, so it’s no wonder companies favour international companies to fulfil their requirements. While growing a manufacturing business from the ground up may seem like the ultimate test of endurance, there is one Melbourne-based company who has stood the test of time. Orchid Commercial Furniture’s versatile business model works twofold; the company imports quality materials from international suppliers, but also has the ability to manufacture products locally. This, coupled with a passionate and enthusiastic team, is reason for its success within a tough environment.
After qualifying as an engineer, Peter Vanderzaag began working in the manufacturing sector of retail shelving and quickly ascended to managing the production of one of Australia’s largest retail store fit-out companies. With an undeniable flair for design and manufacturing, Vanderzaag noticed obvious flaws and sub-par levels of service within the industry.
It is with this dissatisfaction that Vanderzaag and colleague Francis D’Mello established 3fold Resources in order to deliver superior products based on stellar customer relations and industry expertise. Orchid Commercial Furniture was purchased by the duo in 2012 to combine 3fold Resources’ importing capabilities with local production and guarantee a more complete model of service. As part of 3fold Resources, Orchid Commercial Furniture invests in cutting-edge technology and machinery to produce bulk joinery and fixtures for companies who continually look to develop their brand through clever, stylistic design.
This cohesive production model has proven to be a real selling point for the company. As Vanderzaag explains, “Our sophisticated methodology of importing components to augment our local manufacturing has given us the best of both worlds. Local turnaround time and our capacity to manufacture short-run bespoke projects is ground breaking. The convergence of importing and local
manufacturing has set us apart from many others in the industry.”
For Orchid Commercial Furniture, the proof of its success is in its expansive portfolio of high-profile clients, including large projects for Centrelink, Costco, Harris Scarfe and the Australian Taxation Office. In addition, it has worked alongside well-known design and supply companies such as RED Design, Laminex and Polytec. These partnerships have allowed Orchid Commercial Furniture to provide cost-effective alternatives for clients, giving them the appeal of being a versatile and customer- centric manufacturer.
Four years on, Orchid Commercial Furniture’s aptitude for design and manufacturing has now reached new heights with its purchase of a new 5000-square metre factory located in Dandenong. However, the transition to a larger, more sophisticated factory meant investing in only the very best manufacturing technology and machinery.
“We believe convergence is a competitive advantage, so we had to bring together
manufacturing and importing into the one site. Our new factory is state-of-the-art and custom-built for maximising productivity and job satisfaction,” Vanderzaag says.
“After careful examination of the best machinery available globally, we decided on Homag for our new edge banding centre because of its accuracy, speed, quality of finish and its ability to cope with growth in sales. Our factory combines sophisticated joinery software, real-time job tracking and the latest CNC equipment in all facets of our manufacture … using the best technology on the market ensures our long-term future of being at the leading edge in our industry. Combining this with a brand new factory that has a purpose-built layout means that we are not only using the best machinery, but also the most efficient process flow.”
While new technology is integral to its business model, Orchid Commercial Furniture has not forgotten the importance of manual labour and organic talent. As the brand grows, Vanderzaag is fully aware that the wellbeing and progression of its people is paramount to the company’s success.
“Our training and induction process ensures our staff are competent and well-equipped to operate our sophisticated production process. We believe our customers reap the benefits of our staff giving all they need to do their job,” says Vanderzaag.
“We [employ] a dedicated team of people who support our account managers in delivering projects. They all [consider] themselves as servants to the project … from customer enquiry to completion. We often work collaboratively with architects and interior fit-out companies to provide a fully integrated solution,” he adds.
The establishment of the Dandenong factory has allowed Orchid Commercial Furniture to drive its customer-focused business to the forefront of the industry. Determining the needs of each client – whether it be seeking a unique product or meeting a rigid deadline – reduces the red tape that can hinder the manufacturing process. With experienced employees and world-class technology at its disposal, the company ensures a more versatile and personalised approach, which Vanderzaag explains is an extremely important factor for clients.
“In-house manufacturing ensures we have control over all aspects of the process so we can maintain quality and delivery expectations to our customers,” says Vanderzaag.
“Our overseas and local supply sources have [allowed] an appropriate solution for a range of different circumstances, from urgent local manufacture to meeting a specific store opening requirement, to a detailed manufacture and shipping schedule for a well-planned rollout of a particular project. With combined manufacturing and project delivery capabilities, we can provide a vertically integrated solution [which] enables our customers to have multiple cost options based on their needs. This, coupled with the ability to manufacture all facets of joinery in-house from Corian, veneer, solid timber and 2-pack polishing enables us to achieve delivery dates the industry expects without relying on other supply chains.”
Major national brands rely on a continuity of product that duplicates their business model with exacting repetition and standards. While this can be achieved through careful documentation and craftsmanship, it’s the use of new technology that makes this process streamlined and cost-effective, something that Vanderzaag has not only recognised, but also embraced.
“We utilise drawing and optimisation software to provide our customers with
detailed information about the products we are making and to drive our machines from
the frontend. Every part is programmed and recorded in the office so that we can repeat identical manufacture at any future point,” Vanderzaag explains.
“One of the unique features of our technology is our automated board store, which manages raw board inventory and maximises use of materials through offcut management,” he adds.
Combining technology with manual skills to fulfil stringent project guidelines has been a worthwhile investment for Orchid Commercial Furniture, with one project in particular being both professionally and personally rewarding.
“We are very proud of our involvement in the recent development of the Officeworks’ Russell Street 3D Experience Centre. Orchid Commercial Furniture was engaged to design and manufacture the joinery for the project, while 3fold Resources completed the installation and project management,” says Vanderzaag.
“From an initial design brief from the customer, Orchid Commercial Furniture was
able to develop the concept and production drawings in-house, and went through a rigorous prototyping phase before settling on the final design. The selection of materials and finishes were key to the project, and Australian plywood, 2-pack [polish] and melamine finishes were combined to present the desired look and feel. The 3D scanning room was a particular challenge, as we were required to provide a round internal space to house around 150 fixed cameras inside a square room. [However] the end result was a happy client, a very proud team at Orchid Commercial Furniture and a gold award in retail experience at the 2015 Melbourne Design Awards.”
Implementing modern technology, learned expertise and an impressive portfolio of high-profile spaces, it’s clear why Vanderzaag and D’Mello’s 3fold Resources is recognised as a game-changer in Australian manufacturing. However, this type of success is dependent not only on a company’s ability to meet the demands of the manufacturing industry, but to adapt to broader changes in the labour market.
“Our vision for the Orchid Commercial Furniture and 3fold Resources brands is to
be a collaborative, reliable, cost-effective and innovative service provider that can
meet and exceed customer expectations,” explains Vanderzaag.
“We believe that with the downturn of the mining industry, Australia will need to
go back to local manufacturing to support our working population. We are trying to
improve our technology so that we can employ semi-skilled labourers … a segment
of the labour market, which will be flooded with people. In the furnishing sector, we
believe that only those companies with a commitment to technology and efficiency
improvement will survive. Over the last two years we have already seen many companies disappear from the scene. The competitive advantage will be a sophisticated supply chain that can meet the changing needs of the furniture industry. As we move from a supply-driven supply chain to a demand- driven supply chain, manufacturers will have to be agile and be able to modify and change
their work practices.”
As the reputation of the 3fold Resources brand grows, so too does its social
responsibility. Recognising the importance of supporting the wider community, the
company has established a not-for-profit organisation, Compelled By Love, in order to
see disadvantaged people flourish.
“Our company DNA is strongly influenced by our commitment to giving back to our local community and international projects, where part of our profits are dedicated to seeing people realise their true potential. This is not just a catch-cry; it is in-built into our culture and influences the way our staff perceive their jobs,” explains Vanderzaag.
“We believe in making the world a better place, not just for our staff and families, but
for many others not as fortunate as ourselves. Our staff and customers have become
supporters, giving time and finances to make a difference,” he adds.
In its thirteen years of operation, 3fold Resources has enjoyed an untarnished reputation in the local manufacturing industry. Its willingness to embrace new
processes, infrastructure and people ensures Australian brands – and indeed, international businesses – have access to a manufacturing company that rivals the very best in the industry. As such, the company’s unique dualistic approach, as well as its focus on skill, technology and adaptability, will ensure a