From Good to Grow | Uplifting Solutions embracing the new normal

By K+P Team  |  28 Jan 2021

2020 was the year Australians stayed at home. As January draws to a close, do you have a solid idea of what working will mean and look like for you in 2021? Will you work from home, transition back onsite or live in a sweet in-between?

 

Since 2003, Sydney-based Uplifting Solutions has built its business supplying ergonomic office furniture, but with the onset of COVID-19 it felt like everything they knew changed overnight...

 

Overnight, the demand for thousands of flexible workstations in one building disappeared. Suddenly, Uplifting Solutions needed to pivot towards a new way of working – at home.

 

Not only were millions of Australians suddenly working and video-conferencing from home, they were also shopping exclusively from home rendering traditional stores almost obsolete. To meet this changed reality, Uplifting Solutions quickly launched a new website showing that a quick response to change is the only way businesses can keep up with changing environments.  

 

In our first client spotlight of the 2021, we chat with David Parker, founder of Uplifting Solutions, about the challenges COVID-19 posed on his business, and how being agile in the online marketplace has kept Uplifting Solutions not just afloat but ahead of the curve.

1. Tell us a little bit about the back story of the business and how you got involved in Uplifting Solutions?

 

I started the business with my partner Helen almost 20 years ago, I’d been working in the IT industry, and Helen was an ergonomic consultant. We could both see there was a lack of well-designed office furniture for computer-based work. We began the business in a room under our house, originally selling specialty chairs. Our slogan at the time was Clever Chairs for Better Backs. Since that time we have greatly expanded the range to include sit-stand desks, monitor arms, and an array of laptop stands and other accessories to assist people to work in a comfortable and sustainable way.

 

We were one of the first companies in Australia to sell commercial office furniture online, because we knew the future was not in having a bricks and mortar shop for this kind of product. We have always positioned ourselves for a national market, providing niche products and expertise in ergonomics. However for many years contract sales for big fit-outs were the greatest part of our business, so the website was a lesser priority, more of a shop window.

2. 2020 was a huge year for pivoting your business with the home-office boom. How have you adapted? 

 

2020 marked a rather abrupt end to large office fit-outs, because it was no longer a good idea to bring multiple people into one office at a time. In our case we had some clients, such as Westpac, which had 35 floors in one building, but were now only permitted to have two people in each lift at a time. Operating at previous capacity, queues for the lifts would be four hours at the start of each day, and four hours at the end. Impossible, and that’s not counting popping out for lunch. To meet this need, we spent months sourcing and testing over sixty new products specifically Designed for the Home Office for our new online website: www.ergofurniture.com.au

 

This was the key to adapting the business to the new ways of working precipitated by COVID. Many of the staff of our large clients requested a copy of their city office setup at home. We also provided incentives for employees of our major clients with discounts for online orders.

 

To work productively from home you need a comfortable and supportive workspace. Kitchen tables or sofas are not up to the task for weeks or months of work. You’ll only damage your body.

Ergofurn1

3. What's in store for Uplifting Solutions in 2021? 

 

As for many others, 2020 was a year of pivoting for our business, and in 2021 we seek to grow the volume with all the new products we now offer, as well as continuing to source new items. We’ve done all the hard work investing in quality software systems, and compliance with quality standards such as ISO 9001, and now we need continue to market to let people know how easy it is to work more comfortably at home, without it costing an arm and a leg.

 

We are very proud of the quality of the ergonomic products that we source, unlike the many cheap products offered by some bulk vendors. If we don’t think it’s great, we don’t sell it. It has to be well-designed, and well-made. Our high Google ratings from happy customers indicate this is a successful formula to build the next phase of our business.

4. What are the top 3 lessons you've learnt running your business?    

  1. Hire good people, even though at first you don’t think you can afford them. In hindsight we should have focused more on the quality of our employees earlier than we did. Now we have fantastic people working for us and it has really helped us manage the challenges of this global pandemic.
  2. Choose products you’re proud to sell, implement systems that save time and money, and always be prepared to be flexible in changing with the times.
  3. Get good advisors to give perspective - I’d count the advice of Vince Carmody and Samantha Hyde of Kelly+Partners as part of our success.

5. What's your favourite part of running Uplifting Solutions?  

 

Introducing innovative new products is always a thrill. In pre-COVID times that often involved extensive overseas travel, but these days as with everything else it’s much more about online research.

 

Happy customers are essential to a successful business. Even in these Internet days, people do business with people, and I spend time on the phone every day with new and existing customers finding the right solution for their requirement. Essentially all of our customers are looking for a more comfortable way of working - we are all humans interacting with technology, to get a job done. I get great satisfaction from solving the practical and logistical issues.

Uplifting Solutions Ergonomic Furniture

6. You've worked with a huge range of big-name clients. What are the biggest challenges with working with large institutions?

 

The biggest challenge is the large number of stakeholders that are involved in making a decision. Typically for a large project there will be five different stakeholders; the accountant, the designer, the ergonomist, the project manager, and the end user. It can be a balancing act to ensure that their requirements are met in supplying an on-time, cost-effective, ergonomic solution.

7. How do you bring your vision, mission and values to life within the business?  

 

To work productively you have to work comfortably. Many studies have shown that if you are uncomfortable in your working setup, your attention will suffer. If it reaches the point of pain, you will avoid working whenever you can.

 

Ergo Furniture has hundreds of products available for immediate free shipment (to east coast metro) and very reasonable rates for other locations, from its Warriewood NSW warehouse. The latest electric sit-stand desks, laptop stands, office chairs, monitor arms, smartphone holders and much more. All at great prices.

Special discount for Kelly+Partners Clients!

 

Get your home office off to a healthy start in 2021.

Kelly+Partners clients can obtain a 10% discount!  Apply code KP10 at checkout  www.ergofurniture.com.au    

Keen to hear more? Check out our full blog and insights page here

Head over to Ergo Furniture's website here and be sure to follow them on Instagram. Plus, click here for Uplifting Solution's website and Instagram for more great products, tips and deals! 

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