Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied
Over 30 years of handcrafting furniture from solid ash, family business Woodbender has grown to employ 55 staff and has recently built a brand-new showroom adding to their headquarters in Strand. Owner and director Shirley Mast tells us about it.
How did your business start?
Inspired by his love of woodwork and fascination with the old-world art of wood-bending, my husband, Charles Mast, began crafting cottage-style furniture in 1988, which he sold at a local market. Thirty years later, nothing has changed about our commitment to crafting beautiful furniture made of solid ash wood, imported from certified and sustainably managed forests. Our dedicated team of craftsmen and women, many of whom have been with us for many years, are integral to the character of every piece. At least 20 people contribute to each one, using a handcrafted process that preserves the integrity of the wood, to make furniture that is comfortable, durable, and seamlessly fuses form with function.
Why did you choose this area to set up shop?
We grew up in this area and absolutely love it – I’ve yet to find a place that beats the beauty of the Helderberg basin and Winelands. The Helderberg basin has grown over the 30 years we’ve been trading here and everything is available close at hand. With our proximity to the N2, we’re easily accessible from Cape Town as well as from the Overberg.
How did you find your premises?
We needed more space and we moved into a single unit of our current premises in 1996. Over the years we’ve required a further six units to accommodate the business growth.
Why are the premises ideally suited to your business?
We’ve just custom-refurbished an entire unit into a wonderful modern showroom space which is already proving popular with retail and trade clients.
Who are your neighbours?
Our neighbours include Flamet Engineering, Jooste Cylinder and Pump Company, Cash & Carry Warehouse, Aqua Mart and Deurou.
What are the rental/sales prices like in this area?
Rental in the area averages about R50/m2.
How many people visit your business each day?
Our newly renovated showroom has just opened and we hope to increase our foot traffic. During the renovation, we had about 15¬ to ¬30 walk-ins per month without advertising.
Do you have any expansion plans?
We’ve focused on Joburg (Parkhurst) and Strand showrooms this year and last year. In future, we hope to expand our operation to KwaZulu-Natal (Durban).
Do you operate online as well?
Our customers can view our full catalogue online. All Woodbender pieces are made to order with a two- to four-week lead time.
What’s your most popular item?
With a range of around 200 items, it’s hard to single one out. Our dining chairs have proved their strength and durability in the hospitality and contract market. Our occasional chairs, especially the Arabella range, have proven extremely popular due to their small footprint and good back support in all market sectors, especially private homes.
021 854 6034