Who would have thought of using waste pallets to build furniture? Well, a young Malaysian startup did!
Ahmad Rosisi, 24, with a diploma in mechanical engineering and currently pursuing his final year degree in Engineering Technology in Product Design has taken charge of his destiny in making furniture out of wood pallets. We spoke to this humble man from Seremban, Negeri Sembilan to discover his startup journey.
Ahmad Rosisi, founder of Waris Papan.
It All Began From A Passion With Wood
Waris Papan officially started in June 2014. Ahmad Rosisi and his friends came up with the name Waris Papan with “Waris” representing the Negeri Sembilan community while “Papan” basically stands for wood. Plus, he told us that he is an active person and likes to surf, longboarding as well as skating. Hence, “Papan” somehow showed his love with board reflecting his identity.
“Furthermore, I’m really excited with woodworking since I was a kid,” he added.
It all started with him and his friends who were having a 3 month long semester break. The idea came about when one of his friends, Azri Arif suggested that he should make something out of a pallet. Inspired by the idea, he then started collecting used pallets from everywhere that he could possibly source to practice his furniture-making skills during the holidays.
“Internet and experience is my teacher,” said Ahmad Rosisi.
Amir Ikma, one of Waris Papan’s founding team member.
Armed With A Vision, Added Intensity, And Friends
Ahmad Rosisi started working alone at home in the first two months and later expanded to a team of three. His fellow course mate, Amir Ikma, 24, is in charge of the marketing; whereas Aniq Safuwan, 24, is working at the production site. In a month’s time after the creation of the startup, they started selling their products. With a vision to develop contemporary and rustic furniture with wood, their goal is to provide customers with new experience and diversity in selecting furniture for their home.
Ahmad Rosisi explained that there were two phases in the process of developing Waris Papan. The first one was when he sold his first product to a customer and was filled with satisfaction and fulfillment. Two weeks later, his customer gave him good feedback and they slowly started to receive more orders, even from different states of Malaysia. He then made plans to enter the second phase after two months of added intensity, during which he recruited his friends to join in.
Initial Obstacles And Sacrifices
The lack of funding was a huge problem. They needed to buy the necessary equipment and machines, hence they decided to not make any profit out of the sales. With a fully committed team, they managed to buy all their necessities within a short time frame with the initial funding they had. At the moment, Waris Papan have a table saw, sander, hand drill, planer machine, grinder, compressor, as well as other minor tools for furniture-making.
However, Ahmad Rosisi told Vulcan Post that the biggest challenge they faced was the difficulty of sourcing raw materials, especially pinewood. The used pinewood that he managed to find were in bad conditions and were usually very costly. Thus, he diverted and sourced his furniture wood from a friend who imports goats from Australia and Ahmad Rosisi decided to buy whole pallets from him.
Why Pine Wood?
All of his current furniture is made only from pine wood. This is because pine wood is cheaper compared to other woods such as jati or cengal. In addition, people nowadays are more interested with the vintage or rustic style; hence pine wood was the perfect material to match that type of design. Also according to him, in comparison to other types of wood, pine wood is lighter and more tender, thus making it easier to work with.
“Pine wood has got their own value as well,” he explained.
Customers Come First
When asked how long would it take for Waris Papan to complete an order. He further informed that it depends on the deal with the customer, and the complexity of the design. If everything is confirmed beforehand, it usually only takes one day to make the furniture. At the moment, Waris Papan produces home furniture such as benches, book racks, and coffee tables. They cater for custom-made furniture too and the whole process from designing a custom-made furniture to the creation of the end product requires a week, subjected to the customers’ requirement. When talking about customers’ expectation, he said that their concern lies with their customers’ requirement. Hence, they strive to provide customers with products of great quality and at reasonable prices.
How Does The Magic Happen
Ahmad Rosisi kindly explained the production process to Vulcan Post. First he would start with a design or a sketch and a vision of the concept on how the furniture would look like. Then he would determine how many pieces of woods is needed to turn the design into life. He would continue to select the wood and start trimming the wood according to the design. What comes next is to remove old surfaces on the wood using a planer machine. After that, he will sand the wood in order to get a smooth surface. Coating the wood thoroughly is essential as it prevents fungus and helps to maintain the longevity of the wood. Lastly, he would drill a small hole (for screws) before assembling the furniture parts.
Sure sounds like a lot of work is involved as there is detailed planning and accurate execution that is required from the furniture maker.
The Humble Waris Papan
In contrast with other domestic or mass production furniture companies, Waris Papan voiced that they are exclusively working with pallets. When asked about their future plans, he said, “For now we plan to have one showroom or gallery that we can showcase all our products to consumers. But before that we need to educate people about this type of furniture because it seems to be quite new in Malaysia.”
Ahmad Rosisi and his team have given life to wood pallets without further compromising and wasting resources from our beloved Mother Earth. As the meaning of the Malay word “waris” is to inherit, this brilliant idea reuses materials that we inherit from Earth and this in turn reduces waste. This, to me, is inheritance made to good use.