“Is it that they both have seat cushions? Well, yes, but we were thinking more that both industries insist on high quality. In car factories we know they demand no more than two mistakes in every million parts.
We have high standards but we’ve started using a different measure: complaints per thousand orders, or CpTO. The old measure of, say, 98% performance sounded great but still equalled 20 unhappy customers per 1,000 orders. Using CpTO reminds us that a defective sofa equals a disappointed customer. Even one of those is one too many.”
David Bramwell – Managing Director
“This is one we love to debate. Clare’s all about shape, thinking that creating the lines of a sofa from wood, card, foam and fabric is a little bit magical, no less! She’s loved updating the retro trend, with organic curves contrasting with crisp lines and needing no more than a plain fabric.
Becca, on the other hand, sees shapes as clothes horses for her new creations, transforming them with colour and texture. Different fabric can even flip a design from masculine to feminine. And there are no limitations: if you can’t find the design you want, make your own! This debate will run and run…”
Clare Miles and Becca Sargison – Designers
“We’re doing a lot already. We source renewable raw materials whenever possible, for example, our timber is from licensed sustainable forests. We recycle our plastic into plastic sacks and our cardboard into corrugated cardboard, turning a cost into a saving. We also recycle over 2000 tons of general waste because it’s the right thing to do. It also means that none of our waste goes to landfill.
We’re considering converting our lights to LEDs, which would reduce our carbon footprint by 154 tons a year. It’s not cheap to do but the savings mean they’d pay for themselves after six years or so.”
Robin Williams – Site, H&S, Environment Manager
“I’ve been part of QFC since 1999. The company recognises and rewards hard work. I started out as a wood mill labourer and am now a supervisor. QFC always keeps us up to date with how the business is going with regular team briefs. There’s a strategic plan for the future and we’re moving forward.
QFC has invested in the cutting and lifting equipment we need to do our jobs more efficiently and it takes our health and safety very seriously. There’s also job stability with flexible working, where we work fewer days in quieter periods and more when it’s busy.”
James Hart – Team Supervisor
“I’ve been with QFC since the beginning. I’ve had various roles through the years, including working in the wood mill and the cutting section. At present, I’m in the general stores area. I find it rewarding and feel appreciated.
QFC encourages you to develop your skills and if you have a good attitude, you’ll find it a great place to work. There’s a direct relationship between management and staff that I find very healthy. You’re surrounded by hard-working people, all pulling in the same direction. There’s a superb company culture.”
Simon Peberdy – Team Leader
“I like my job. I manage people and supervise production. There are 21 people, 21 different characters, on my lines and many more in other departments to co-operate with. These are fantastic and very skilled people who achieve a high level of production every day, every hour, every minute. We have really good personnel.
QFC gives me chance to grow and when I look around, I see people who want to help me and develop me. I look forward to making another step up, as I did from manufacturing operative to supervisor.”
Adam Turnicki – Assembly Team Supervisor
“Design, design, design. It’s so important, not just outside but inside a sofa. Get it right and you have a sofa that people want, desire even, enough to take home to meet the décor in their living room.
From a business point of view, desirable products command a better price, while still offering value for money. We can also sell more of them, which bring economies of scale our way.”
Vernon Goldberg – Chief Executive
“Definitely. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved over the last 13 years with QFC and grateful to the company for recognising my work. I joined as a trainee upholsterer, was keen to learn all the aspects of making a sofa and put myself forward to organise and motivate my team. I became a team supervisor and from there, head of training, getting new recruits ready for the challenges of the assembly line.
Other work in increasing our output on one of our bestsellers by 25% landed me a process improvement manager role and I’m now part of the senior management team as assembly manager. Later this year, I’ll be starting a part-time MBA at Lincoln University.”
Justin Keene – Assembly Manager
“Absolutely. QFC has let me progress in the business. I joined at 17 in Customer Services, then worked in the Planning Department, then went back to Customer Services as the manager. After some time away to broaden my horizons, I managed the Returns Department and then a number of other areas before becoming operations manager. After having my daughter, I returned as logistics manager and now take care of assembly as well.
I left school at 15 and wouldn’t say I had a great education but hopefully you can see that you can achieve what you want at QFC. If you’re determined, QFC will support you. I love working with people, and they’re just amazing here.”
Sarah Drake – Logistics Manager
“In all areas of life, I always say that if you have the passion, attitude, commitment and consistency, you’ll get to where you want to be. It’s been true for me at QFC! I joined fresh from school as a line upholsterer, went on to become a team leader and then waited for the chance to fulfil a burning desire to be a development technician. Even better, I’m now a senior development technician and trainer!”
Martin Gill – Senior Development Technician
“A little bit of choice, even quite a lot of choice, can be a good thing. But too much choice can be overwhelming. Which shape, which colour, which size? We think a spot of judicious editing on our parts can make the buying decision a whole lot easier for a customer. No-one wants to be bamboozled by choice for choice’s sake. So, while we want our customers to know plenty of choice is there, we also want to help them find exactly what they’re looking for.”
Sarah Louise Davey – Demand Manager
“It used to take two weeks or more. Now we can get from designer’s sketch to a physical prototype in around one week. DC3D, our CAD software, is a powerful tool. CAD usually models the outside of solid shapes but ours can go from the inside out or the outside in. It follows the contours and flattens them into 2D patterns for fabric that will be the right 3D shape when filled. What’s more, if we – or our customers – want to tweak the prototype, we can change a pre-programmed parameter to adjust the size or shape. The rest of the design updates itself by the wonders of associative technology and ta-dah! We have all the patterns we need to get the sofa into production.”
James Truswell – Development Manager
“We all know the blissful feeling of sinking into a comfortable sofa at the end of a long day. But it doesn’t just happen. Comfort is serious business. For several years now, we’ve researched and designed our sofas ergonomically, with every design being tested individually. The fillings we use need to work with the design and are also tested so we know they’ll last well and stay comfortable.
Finally, let’s not forget the frames, all of which meet or exceed industry standards for strength and durability. Our sustainable hardwood and composite materials take some beating.”
John Bowden – Head Development Technician
“No, it’s not a sofa especially for the FA Cup. It stands for ‘Standard of Finish Audit’. We inspect newly finished sofas, keeping our eyes open for mistakes and rejecting any sofa we wouldn’t be happy with as customers.
We point out problems to the production supervisors to stop the same thing happening again. There are also weekly meetings with a wider team to push those quality standards ever higher.”
Benny Lam & May Hinks – Product Quality Auditors
“It’s mind boggling, isn’t it? We know that no one mind could manage it all so this is where our ERP system comes in. We have automated the processing of data, so there’s no manual creation or change of bills of materials, orders or jobs. One system keeps track of our materials, sofas, orders and more so we can stay on top of the complexity involved in offering our customers so many options.”
Jo-Anne Howett – Systems Analyst
Woof! I’m not meant to be on here.
Don’t tell anyone…
“Like this: our 15 supply chain people plan for 225 tonnes of materials, including 50km of fabric from our partners around the world. Then our 240-strong assembly team, supported by 60 material handlers, gets busy. The end results head to our customers on 100 40ft articulated lorries. Our operations management team want everything to be right first time, every time…”
Paul Middleton – Operations Director
“The better we make our working environment, the better we seem to do. We’ve started a project that will make sure our people always have what they need to hand. It sounds simple but it’s a big job to get the materials each person needs to them. They need them at the right time, in the right quantities, and at the right height to stop them having to bend and twist too much. We’re even considering pneumatic tables each person can adjust to keep themselves comfortable and working efficiently.
Another aspect is known as line balancing, to make sure each person in the team has the same amount of work to do so no-one is kept waiting.”
Martyn Chung – Process Improvement Manager