Flamingo Furniture is one of the most well-known and respected family businesses still operating. Located in the furniture manufacturing hub of Bayswater in Melbourne’s outer east, Flamingo enjoys a long-standing partnership with Biesse Group, a supplier as committed to Flamingo Furniture, as Flamingo is to their legions of customers.
Three Generations and still, All Australian.
Flamingo Furniture was founded by Trevor and Anne Winter in 1981. Trevor had been working at a local sawmill in the outer eastern Melbourne township of Healesville, well-known for the animal sanctuary, farming, and timber cutting. Trevor had ambitions of his own Company and so, he started out on his own, committed to filling a need in the market for quality furniture. Moving from his back yard to a building owned by a friend, Trevor and Anne spent their first years in business living in a caravan at the back of the warehouse, building roll-top desks.
Their first desk was sold to an acquaintance who suggested Trevor start making them because there was nothing like them on the market. An order for two desks turned into five and Trevor and Anne were on their way, selling to furniture retail stores. Any money they made was put back into raw materials. Within two years Trevor had put on his first apprentice and he still works at Flamingo Furniture today, such is the high regard Flamingo is held amongst their employees. Outside of independent furniture retail outlets, one of their first major customers was Norman Ross, now trading as Harvey Norman.
Flamingo Furniture’s next move was into occasional furniture, and then, pine bedroom furniture. The range of elegant products are manufactured to consistently high standards, a quality benchmark Flamingo Furniture has maintained to this day. Initially in the middle of the pine bedroom furniture market, Trevor and Anne moved into Australian hardwoods and fought hard to lift their product to the top end. The product was sold through Harvey Norman stores from the retail chain’s inception in the early 1980’s, after Alan Bond bought Norman Ross from Grace Brothers.
Flamingo still sell five or six ranges of bedroom furniture through Harvey Norman and Forty Winks, products that have been in exceptionally high demand through COVID as customers seek high quality furnishings. A traditional design Flamingo bedroom product is currently 40 Winks top selling item. More recently, Flamingo Furniture has successfully ventured into the aged care and commercial hotel and restaurant fitouts sectors with a range of products that include bedside tables, hall tables, buffets, and dining tables.
Flamingo and Biesse
Flamingo Furniture’s partnership with Biesse Group started way back in the early 1990’s with a Biesse Rover 346, an A-frame CNC machine, and a smaller Rover 321R cantilever CNC machine. Flamingo still use both ‘pod and rail’ (table) machines today. 20+ years is an amazing return on their investment and testament to the quality of the Biesse brand. Considering the fact that at one time a hundred packs of timber a month went through the factory, these machines have repaid Flamingo many times over. Brooke Winter, Trevor and Anne’s daughter and current CEO said, “Our Biesse machines and the Biesse company have never let us down.”
In addition to the two Biesse CNC machines, Flamingo Furniture also have a 12-year-old Biesse Akron 425 edge banding machine that will be replaced soon, mostly because of new technology. Rounding out the suite of Biesse equipment is a Selco wn240 beam saw that was installed only a month or so ago, replacing an earlier Selco that provided solid service over twelve years. Production manager Ian Stones and factory manager Paul Hammond, both long-time Flamingo employees have worked with Biesse Group over many years. They are in agreement that, “Biesse make our lives easier.”
Brooke admits that over the many years their Biesse machines have provided reliable service to Flamingo, the machines have saved an enormous amount of labour and increased product throughput. In fact, Brooke estimates that production time without their Biesse equipment would be four times longer than it is now; an untenable situation that could put the future of Flamingo Furniture at risk. Ian said of their Biesse equipment, “It would be impossible to live without them.” Pinpoint accuracy and the elimination of human error add to the underlying value of their investment with Biesse Group.
Brooke concedes that in time, Flamingo Furniture will need to upgrade their Biesse CNC machinery. She will consider all options but knowing Biesse as a reliable product and Biesse Group as a supportive partner is a compelling reason to continue their long standing and profitable association. Brooke says, “Because our furniture designs are so traditional, we’ve been able to keep our Biesse machines in service longer than most manufacturers. We haven’t had a need to upgrade for technology and while over 25 years of service is a fantastic return on our investment, we will eventually need to modernize.”
Over almost 30 years, Flamingo Furniture has had plenty of time to assess Biesse Group’s service and support. Brooke says, “I can’t fault Biesse’s customer service. Their follow-up, their time frames, their communication is amazing. When we book in a service, they come when they say they’re going to come and if there’s a delay, they notify us straight away. We’re never left in the dark. We have a lot of confidence in Biesse delivering the service they say they will provide.” Ian adds, “It’s fantastic, if we order a stocked part before 2pm today, it’s delivered the following day, they’re very fast.”
Three generations strong
Flamingo Furniture is a proudly Australian owned family company that will celebrate 40 years in September this year. Three generations of the Winter family, still working in management, furniture design, marketing, and production have built a business that is truly an Australian Icon. And for over half their history, Flamingo have relied on Biesse Group’s leading-edge technology to provide a competitive edge while their competitors have largely fallen away. Brooke said, “With our range of bedroom furniture we largely stick with what we’re good at, but our aged care and commercial furniture allow us to explore new designs. We often work with interior decorators and distributors to build new products that may be sold under their brand names. Our long-standing success can be credited to our modern Biesse machinery, good management and loyal employees manufacturing a superior product that has stood the test of time.”