about FurnTech

Ian Priestley

What seems a long time ago, I studied Furniture Production Management in High Wycombe, graduating in 2000. This course was an intensive look at the varying elements of a typical Furniture factory, covering the practical areas of timber science, design & development, wood machining, cabinet making, wood finishing; as well as business-orientated elements such as legislation, finance and marketing.

As part of the course I was also fortunate enough to complete an industrial placement at Ducal in Andover, Hampshire, spending over a year across the business looking, learning, absorbing and developing. Upon graduation I was offered a position in their fast-track programme, taking me further into Quality Control and Quality Assurance.  Leading to eventually looking after the company’s ISO9002 accreditation across the eleven sites.

Ducal ceased UK manufacturing in 2003 and began to outsource new ranges from China, South Africa, Portugal, Croatia and Poland.  I was transferred within the Newco and involved in these processes at source, developing conceptual drawings through to prototypes and onto mass production batches. As part of Silentnight’s early-century cabinet acquisitions I went on to undertake the same roles to varying degrees across the group, covering the-then unified brands of Stag, Parker Knoll and Nathan.

Nathan was returned to private ownership in 2005 from which I became part of a small, lean team tasked with reigniting the famous brand. This process involved many varied elements, including reworking designs, liaising with our capable supplier and replacing shopfloor displays throughout the country.  Since the reboot Nathan have been supplying the trade as an importer, as a manufacturer, and latterly as an importer once again.  My own personal role slowly migrated into customer-facing aspects, and for both Sutcliffe and Nathan I became the Area Sales Manager for the 3 territories of Scotland, North-Western England and North-Eastern England.

As a result of the above career path I would like to think I have a detailed level of knowledge about furniture products and processes; which I feel aids in store training and inspires confidence when outlining product USPs.

The FurnTech Agency was built upon the foundation of my prior role with Nathan and Sutcliffe, but I have since been able to develop my portfolio to offer products from both the Bed and the Upholstery sectors, broadening my knowledge and also the flexibility and choice I can offer to retailers.

Challenges are often varied but I work on 3 simple cornerstones; 1) understand the product(s) and service(s) of my principals, 2) ensure I am on the ground instore as frequently as agreed with the retailler, and 3) always responding honestly to a retailer, no matter what the issue.

I also freely take calls evenings and weekends – if a retailer answers queries on a Saturday, then so should I!!!!!!