Malaysian-Made Wooden Sit-Stand Adjustable Tables
We have already written about ergonomic office products, namely, EVIS and Alterseat. For a very long time, I personally wanted a sit-stand desk, a desire amplified since the creation of the WFH.
It seemed like Facebook had caught on to this desire as well, and while browsing the site one day, I came across Balak’s, a wood table company born out of a 25-year-old wood door manufacturer. Curious, I had to interview its founder, Lucas, to hear about his story.
If the doors could fold
It started 35 years ago when Lucas’s father started marketing lumber to make finger joint components (also called comb joints, where 2 pieces of wood have complementary jagged edges carved to fit together, then glued). 10 years later, his father decided to pivot and started a wooden door factory to manufacture and sell these doors.
“My family business in this industry started in 1996 and continues to grow and try to adapt to the current business environment, which is quite difficult right now,” Lucas told Vulcan Post.
I’ll be honest here: when I first came across Balak’s story, I joked to my colleagues, “It’s easy, they could just knock the doors down and voila, a table!”
“Wooden doors can’t just be turned into tables,” Lucas corrected. “However, they share the same raw material, namely solid wood. Different techniques are needed to make the door and the table. “
The expansion of the business to make and sell tables alongside wooden doors made sense for the 24-year-old. His friends have also been pushing him to do it with his family’s solid wood materials for years.
It wasn’t until November of last year that the young founder realized now was the right time to start, with WFH becoming the new normal for Malaysians.
“My first thought was to just try to test the market, because this is one of the stages where I can develop my family business. So from there, it took me 1 month to prepare and launch Balak’s on December 5, 2020, ”he told us.
Capitalize on the factory
Of course, Lucas had it a little easier than most by not having to start his business from scratch. Using the resources of his family’s manufacturing business, he could help expand and grow the business into something that meets the needs of today’s Malaysians.
Lucas acknowledged it too, sharing: “Making wood doors has always been our root. This is the beginning of it all, without the door Balak’s would not exist.
Using a small part of the existing factory and his team, he invested a capital expenditure of RM4,000 to sell tables made on pre-order. With enough cash from these sales, the team built their first adjustable electric table, Balak’s Meja, and sold it for RM1 699-RM1 849, depending on its size.
Compared to other local brands in the market, Balak sit-stand desks are undoubtedly cheaper. To illustrate, EVIS would cost you a whopping RM3,499 or RM2,199 (without and with promotions respectively). However, this could be due to differences in the technological components between the two brands, and more.
Balak’s is able to reduce its costs by selling its tables directly to customers from its factory. By avoiding middlemen, customers could save up to 30% by buying direct from manufacturers, as retailers typically mark up the cost 3-5 times on average.
This is according to Lucas, who is aware of it because his family’s wooden door company uses the B2B model. “That’s why for Balak’s, I decided to omit the middleman and sell him directly to consumers. I think it’s a great chance and a great start for us to enter the B2C market, ”he explained.
Based on our conversation with Lucas, it appears the pandemic and WFH conditions have likely been a blessing for Balak’s. Due to the greater number of people needing office space at home, this has increased the demand from tabletop companies to produce their products.
With him, Balak’s sales increased accordingly. 3 months later, the team has already launched 3 different products and has reached its breakeven point.
Lucas is undoubtedly grateful, attributing the success of his business to the family business. “Because of my family background, I am privileged to have the resources I need. It can provide me with machines, experiences and skills, ”he said.
Using it as a launching pad, the team researched different types of raw materials to combine with the woods for their tables. “For example, the Meja Mini from Balak is a combination of our solid wood and stainless steel. This is the kind of collaboration I’m looking for, ”added Lucas.
The entrepreneur is also set on his goal, which is to provide products that are beautiful and practical for the working comfort of Malaysians. At the moment, they don’t offer personalization services yet, but we hope they will review it in the future.
- You can read more about Balak’s here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
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Featured Image Credit: Balak’s
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