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Leveraging WFH trends, this M’sian biz for custom sit-stand desks grew profitable in a year

Sit-stand desks were once a hype and attractive piece of furniture that automatically made an office “cool”, or showed that it cared about an employee’s health. Well, at least that’s what I used to think about them.

But it’s now been a hot 2 years or so since the pandemic has turned most people into remote workers. The trend of revamping home offices has also seen a rise in small businesses cropping up to provide for these Malaysians, alongside older businesses like Alterseat, TTRacing, and Balak’s.

Joining Malaysia’s red ocean for ergonomic office furniture is Woody Lab. Its way of standing out in this market is by allowing customisation services for its sit-stand wooden tables. 

From furniture design to building it themselves

Launched in August 2020, Woody Lab is a brand extension of Wood Press Studio (WPS). The latter is a design and build firm that offers wood fabrication services including design, production, and installation for retail fixtures. 

Their in-house team makes the tables too / Image Credit: Woody Lab

Naturally, creating wooden tables was in founder Travis Thong’s plans to expand, as WPS’s portfolio mostly caters to improving the spaces of retail buildings and offices. In our interview, Travis shared that having their own line of wooden furniture has been in the cards even before the pandemic, but Woody Lab’s launch was fast-tracked by the WFH shift in 2020.

While Travis didn’t give us the exact figure for Woody Lab’s capital, he shared that the only cost required for this expansion was the raw materials for the products. With most assets and the team already in place from WPS, they could save costs in these areas.

Fitting in various spaces

Woody Lab’s main goal is to spread the appreciation of good quality wood with Malaysians, and to the team, their way of doing so is by allowing customers to customise their tables. This goes down to the table’s size, build, and type of wood used.

On its website, Woody Lab allows you to Build Your Own Desk where you’ll first pick out the type of wood to use for your tabletop. Of course, they vary in prices between RM2,399 to RM7,099 as some woods are rarer and harder to source than others.

Travis told us that the raw wooden boards are imported from Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Once they’re acquired, all of the wooden finishing and assembly are done locally. 

Choose from the slabs of wood options they have / Image Credit: Woody Lab

Additionally, customers can also indicate their desired table width and length, which serves as a practical solution to customers who may not have the real estate to fit tables of fixed sizes in their workspaces.

This was Travis’s intention. “We wanted to take care of the demand of those staying in condos or apartments with limited space for their home office,” shared the 32-year old. “Since we have our wood fabrication factory, we decided to offer this service to make our table to fit people’s specific work needs.”

The team leverages these customisation services as Woody Lab’s unique selling point, after surveying the market to find that most brands only offered standard-sized tables.

Of course, Woody Lab also offers tables with fixed sizes, and still allows customers to choose some elements like the table legs’ colours, and whether it comes with add-on wheels. Price-wise, they are still the same as the range mentioned above, which indicates that the customisation service is complimentary.

From home to the office crowd

Due to the repeated MCOs over the past 2 years, people are now giving attention to setting up their own office spaces at home. This trend was reflected in Woody Lab’s growth, with Travis reporting that the business has been experiencing steady growth since launching.

Able to produce between 20 to 30 tables per week, Woody Lab sells an average of 20 to 25 tables per month to both consumer markets and corporate offices. To date, Woody Lab has already broken even and is profitable.

In the next 3 years, Travis hopes to continue rolling out other product variations so they can provide their clients with a complete ecosystem for their premium wood products.

A sophisticated looking smart desk mixing materials together / Image Credit: Woody Lab

As COVID-19 approaches its endemic phase and more workers continue to return to the office, it is likely that Woody Lab will see more B2B demands overtake consumer ones for its products. While it could mean higher demand for the company’s tables, the team should also be ready to supply. 

In fact, it’s already supplied its sit-stand desks to the staff of an MNC under an employee purchase programme, which points to a potentially growing market of corporates looking to revamp their offices for employee health and satisfaction.

  • You can learn more about Woody Lab here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Travis Thong, founder of Woody Lab

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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