James Fullerton and Taylor Radnell never imagined their school-holiday casual job would become their own business. In this sponsored post we discover the passion that drives Ex-Government Furniture.
HIGH-school buddies James Fullerton and Taylor Radnell never imagined at the time that their school-holiday casual job would become their own business and that one day they would not only run a business together, but become family.
The Canberra-owned and operated Ex-Government Furniture is a 30-year-old business with a reputation that most Canberrans have heard of. It’s the only store of its kind in Australia specialising in quality second-hand office furniture.
Thirty-eight-year-olds James and Taylor spent their summer as 16-year-olds cleaning furniture in the Fyshwick warehouse. Over the years they studied, learnt trades, travelled, had office jobs but they said they always came back to Ex-Government Furniture.
“Over the years the weekend job has
turned into a passion,” says Taylor, admitting that the job has turned him into a “furniture snob”.
Five years ago, James and Taylor took over the business and Taylor married James’ sister, becoming business partners and brothers-in-law. James says that while people might think of them as only dealing in dull, light-grey-coloured office furniture, there’s a lot more on offer at their vast Yallourn Street warehouse in Fyshwick.
James, Taylor and their small team work across all aspects of the business – from removing used furniture, cleaning and reconditioning it, to on-selling them – be it for major office fitouts, cool restaurants or one-off household buyers.
Local and interstate interior designers make regular visits to check out the latest stock, which James says changes continually, and find rare designer pieces for a great price.
“We know what we are talking about, we have been around a long time and understand what sells,” says Taylor.
They say that they love helping customers find the right piece of furniture: “There is something for everybody here. A lot of things come through our doors. If customers can’t find it in the shop, we can help source it,” says Taylor.
“We have chairs on sale from $22 to $2500. There’s a huge range and we can work with customers to their budget,” says James.
“People come in wanting to buy some basic home-office furniture. They leave later with a fully furnished study as well as two very cool chairs!” says Taylor, who loves the design of the 1940’s Eames Lounge Chair and other mid-century, modern-style designer pieces.
Through Ex-Government Furniture’s free removal service, James and Taylor have been behind the scenes of many high-profile businesses and organisations around Canberra, and have become experts in identifying designer pieces and understanding office spaces.
The odd antique or iconic designer piece has come through Ex-Government Furniture’s doors such as the first auditor-general’s desk, the partner desk to Sir Edmond Barton’s desk which is exhibited at the Museum of Australian Democracy, and the distinctive Victoria and Albert lounge by iconic British-Israeli industrial designer Ron Arad, which is currently for sale.
James says he’s observed a life-cycle to office furniture, as every five years a large office or department will decide to do a total refit of their furniture.
He says that businesses who buy their furniture might be just starting out and love working with the Ex-Government Furniture team to fit out their office with second-hand furniture at a fraction of the expected price.
Taylor says that the team carefully cleans, repairs and restores all the furniture they receive and guarantee its quality, replacing any items that may prove faulty.
And as Canberra business has evolved over the years, James says that office furniture has too, to reflect a more mobile, flexible workplace.
“The furniture is a lot more casual, colourful and better looking,” he says.
“Sit-to-stand desks are very popular and communal workspaces as well and we are seeing that come through the furniture we receive,” says Taylor.
“We have all the styles here – modern and old – a huge variety,” he says.
James and Taylor have a deep appreciation for quality design and well-made furniture. They are passionate about upcycling furniture and doing all they can to keep it out of landfill.
“We spend a lot of time refurbishing the furniture, office chairs are now more complicated and have more mechanics. We try and test them. If they are faulty and can’t be repaired we strip them down for parts, we do all we can to recycle,” says Taylor.
The end product, James and Taylor say is a well-made, quality piece of furniture that is sturdy and strong, bucking the trend of “disposable flat-packed” furniture that lasts only a season or two.
James says that the office chair he uses was manufactured in 1993 and made to last: “It’s older than two of our staff members – but I’ve never had a problem with it!”