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This 24 Y/O M’sian Innovated His Family’s Door-Making Biz By Capitalising On The WFH Trend

We’ve written about ergonomic office products before, namely, EVIS and Alterseat. For the longest time, I’ve personally wanted a sit-stand desk of my own, a desire amplified since WFH started.

It seemed that Facebook had become aware of this desire too, and as I was browsing the site one day, I came across Balak’s, a wooden table company that was born from a 25-year-old wooden door manufacturer. Curious, I had to interview its founder, Lucas, to hear about his story.

If Doors Could Lie Down

It began 35 years ago when Lucas’s father started trading wood to manufacture finger joint components (also known as comb joints, where 2 pieces of wood have complementary jagged edges carved to interlock, and then get glued). 10 years later, his father decided to pivot and started a wooden door factory to manufacture and sell those doors. 

“My family business in this sector has started since 1996 and it’s still expanding and trying to adapt to the current business environment which is pretty challenging right now,” Lucas told Vulcan Post. 

I’ll be honest here: when I first came across Balak’s story, I joked to my colleagues, “That’s easy, they could just make the doors lie down and voilà, a table!”

“Wooden doors can’t just be made into tables,” Lucas corrected. “However, they do share the same raw material, which is the solid wood. It requires different techniques to make the door and table.”

Expanding the business to make and sell tables alongside the wooden doors just made sense for the 24-year-old. His friends too have been egging him on to do so with his family’s solid wood materials for years. 

It was only during November last year that the young founder realised that it was a good time to start, with WFH becoming the new norm for Malaysians. 

“My first thought was just to try and test the market, as it’s one of the steps where I can expand my family business. So from then, I took 1 month to prepare and launch Balak’s on December 5, 2020,” he told us.

Capitalising On The Factory

Some of Lucas’s sketches / Image Credit: Balak’s

Of course, Lucas had it slightly easier than most by not having to start his company from scratch and all. By utilising resources at his family’s manufacturing company, he could help expand and grow the business into something that meets the needs of Malaysians today.

Lucas recognised it too, sharing, “Manufacturing wooden doors has always been our root. It’s the beginning of all this, without the door, Balak’s would not exist.”

Using a small portion of the existing factory and its team, he invested an RM4,000 capital expenditure to sell tables that were made on a pre-order basis. With enough cash-on-hand from those sales, the team built their first electrical adjustable table, Balak’s Meja, and sold it for RM1,699-RM1,849, depending on its size.

Compared to other local brands on the market, Balak’s sit-stand desks are undoubtedly cheaper. To exemplify, EVIS’s 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.

The team at Balak’s / Image Credit: Balak’s

One way Balak’s is able to lower costs is by selling their tables directly to customers from their factory. Skipping the middleman, customers could save up to 30% by buying directly from manufacturers, as retailers typically mark up the cost by 3-5 times on average.

That’s according to Lucas, who’s aware of this because his family’s wooden door business uses the B2B model. “That’s why for Balak’s, I decided to omit the middleman and sell it directly to consumers. I feel like this is a great chance and a very good beginning for us to get into the B2C market,” he explained.

Stable Tables

Based on our conversation with Lucas, it seemed that the pandemic and WFH conditions have probably been a blessing for Balak’s. Due to more individuals requiring an office space at home, it has increased the table business’s demands to churn out their products. 

With it, Balak’s’ sales have been growing as a result. 3 months in, the team has already launched 3 different products and has broken even.

There are 2 variants for the Balak’s Meja, an electrical one and a crank / Image Credit: Balak’s

Lucas is no doubt grateful, crediting his venture’s success to his family’s business. “Due to my family background, I have the privilege of having the resources that I need. It can provide machines, experiences and skills for me,” he expressed.

Using it as a launchpad, the team has been searching for different kinds of raw materials to combine with the woods for their tables. “For example, Balak’s Meja Mini is a combination of our solid wood and stainless steel. This is the kind of collaboration that I’m looking for,” Lucas added.

The entrepreneur is also set on his goal, which aims to deliver products that look good and are practical for Malaysians’ working comfort. For now, they’re not offering customisation services just yet, but will hopefully look into it in the future.

  • You can learn more about Balak’s here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Also Reads: This Chair Has A Smart Fitness Band For Real-Time Health Updates To Plan My Massages

Featured Image Credit: Balak’s

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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