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June 25, 2021
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Q&A with a Papua New Guinea Owned & Operated Upholstery Business

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In an effort to promote local businesses, I had a chance to put a few questions to the to Goroka based upholstery business, Ultimate Furniture, that has grown from a small at home business to opening a retail outlet in Goroka town.

“When did you start your business?”

“The idea and planning to start this business started in 2012. From there we slowly started investing from our pay packets in equipment and machines that would be used. Up until 2016 February 14th when we commenced producing the lounges.

“What does your business do?”

“We started with producing lounge sets and moved into other areas as needs arose. Right this moment services and products Ultimate Furniture provides are as follows;

  • Produce standard and executive new sofa/couch sets
  • Tailored quality curtains and accessories
  • Restoration of any design damaged sofa/couch
  • Couch and sofa throw on covers
  • Vinyl covers on any mattress size and pillows
  • Heath upholstery items (eg. Vinyl mattresses, pillows, upholstered therapy chairs and produce upholstery item needs to specification)
  • Dining and office chair foam and cover restoration
  • Restore and repair original car seats
  • Holistic Tailored Home and office furnishings and décor from upholstery need to curtains and flower pots”

“What was your motivation for starting this business?”

“We’ve always believed in adding value to improve people’s lives.  We also acknowledged the different traits and qualifications that could be harnessed to form a strong team.  Our ideas took the direction for upholstery because that came out strong with the talent and craftsmanship from my in-law who is a professional upholster. From his craftsmanship and extensive upholstery experience we believed that we could start something and at the same time promote local talents and quality PNG made products.”

“What are some of the challenge associated with running your business?”

“One thing we have realised is to understand our average earning PNG customers and their needs with their budgets. We do not want price tag to be a hindrance for Papua New Guinean who would love to afford these beautiful upholstery furniture and so creating friendly buying system is a challenge up for us to sort out.  Also, we would like to carve our space in the upholstery market that is associated with quality, durability, classic, affordable, tailor make office and home refurbishments that is 100% PNG talent and local craftsmanship. And as a result strengthening customer confidence on quality products and service with reasonable price range so as to encourage investment in local SMEs.

Another major challenge is capacity from backyard or informal to the formal market and trying to adjust to the formal setting which is currently ongoing to get our footing right.”

“What are your hopes for the business in the long run?”

“Our hope is in making an impact in the homes of many Papua New Guineans and contributing to improving the household standard of living. We want to do that by creating an affordable Upholstery furniture market that understands PNG context and is tailored to individual needs and budget and to expand out of Goroka where we started our humble beginnings.”

“Who are the founders of the company? And what are their various roles and responsibilities?”

“This is 3 team company with myself, my husband and my brother in law. I manage the daily operation, while my brother in law with casual youth do the production. My husband supports with investment decisions oversees company formalities. For any pop-up business task arising we discuss and share the responsibility accordingly. It’s not always smooth sailing but as family we believe in the relationship and so we try to maintain transparent communication as much as we can.”

“In terms of a start-up capital how did you go about funding the your prospective business?”

“Funding for all assets and production cost came from me and my husband’s personal resource. As mentioned the equipment that cost the most with tools where bought over time. Last year we started the production with investment from our own pockets.”

“How do you go about your sales and operations i.e do you have retail outlet? Online sales?”

“We started with Front yard display of our new sets. We did a little canvas shed in our front gate and did display with our first sets as well as sticking notice around town as product awareness. From there we also used our personal FB profile to do product awareness and eventually created a FB page for our venture. This year in August we moved from the backyards sales to open a retail shop in the town area. One thing we have always reiterated within our team is that the products we sell should speak for itself through quality and class it demonstrates.”

How did you get more and more people interested in the service you provide?”

“So far from feedback from our customers it is the quality and pricing, and the fact that is it authentic PNG talent and craftsmanship. Because our financial capacity does not allow for mass media advertisement we make use of what is available to the max coupled with bits and pieces of innovative ideas from team members and doing it in a consistent manner. For us that means ensuring quality is maintained from start to the finish and that helps in our marketing. We also are fortunate to have wonderful Papua New Guineans that are passionate about Papua New Guinean made products and in supporting local SMEs. We currently have a thousand plus and growing followers on our Facebook page who are wonderful in referring, sharing and encouraging with positive comments. Its acts like that that also motivates us to keep going. And a big acknowledgement would be to EMTV Business Segment for believing in us just fresh from our backyard production and into the Third month of operation  where they did an interview and aired us on their segment.”

What is it like owning your own business?”

“It offers more freedom to plan my daily task but also the fact that I am equally responsible for the consequences and results.”

How far has the business gone since it started?”

“We reached our first mile stone more sooner than thought and that was moving from backyard marketing into formal retail shop. We started with 1 full time staff and 2 part time but now we have 3 full time supporting out venture. Our next objectives are to increase production and expand market out of Goroka.”

What are some of the challenges you faced in the initial stages of your operations?”

“With our kind of product, sales can be slow as it is not an everyday item. So getting the product out to the customer was important for us. If it meant knocking on business houses, making appointment with CEOs and directors, we just had to be bold and do it. Also patience and believing in what we did is very important and fuel for perseverance and consistency.”

What advice do you have for the aspiring entrepreneurs?”

“It is tough starting small but be tough as well. Don’t let negative external situation and perceptions dictate your ideas, motivation and commitment. Have control, be bold and above all believe in yourself and what you are doing. And that belief should consistently be translated into words and actions because there is not result without action.”

If you want to get in contact with Ultimate Furniture for any of your upholstery needs check out their Facebook Page or shoot them an email on: ufurniturespng@gmail.com

Here’s a look at an episode of EMTV’s Business PNG program that featured this local business during there initial stage of operation.

Related Article:

A Papua New Guinean Upholstery Business that Started from a Family Discussion

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