The business that is now Flexfurn began by supplying furniture for the events hire marketplace in and around the company’s home town of Cheltenham. Part of the marketplace the business had developed locally was for folding and stackable tables for use by the men who for years built sections of the M5 motorway which ran past the company’s Gloucestershire premises.

As well as folding tables for the workforce to eat their lunches at, the Flexfurn team supplied everything else they needed on a day to day basis – including waterproof clothing against the sort of weather for which the South-west is famous. Seeking to extend and expand market penetration overseas, Flexfurn had worked closely with a Belgian sales organisation called Europa 2000. Europa had 200,000 sq ft of warehousing and their territories extended into the Americas and across Western Asia; in 2007 the two companies merged and a new business was floated under the Flexfurn Ltd heading

Flexfurn was a 10-man team working out of a 20,000 sq ft manufacturing  and showroom space but with only a single beam saw – all that the team had needed up to that point. However, expanding sales in conjunction with Europa 2000 was putting the supply of hire product of sufficiently good quality to meet new standards under pressure and a corporate decision was taken to begin manufacturing in bigger volumes and to higher standards of finish.

eter Whiteland is managing director, and is, by his own admission, not a techincal man; nevertheless, he was tasked with heading off to the industry’s premier manufacturing equipment show with a list of requirements that was shaped by things to do rather than machines to buy. After a day on stands large and small, Peter settled at the stand of RW Machines, which seemed the only company able to meet the full spectrum of his needs.

The sales stand of RW Machines was the only place where he found someone who understood all his needs and who could supply everything  he required to meet them – and all for the money he had available! The company’s managing director, David Thompson Rowland, added solutions to the problems and also did the sums; together Peter and David did a deal and agreed dates for delivery and commissioning.

RW Machines’ principal Casadei Busellato fulfilled the problem that topped the list – for a CNC workcentre and a straight line edgebander, respectively the latest Easy Jet CNC from Busellato and a Flexa 37 straight line edgebander by Casadei. For face finishing on table tops RW supplied a heated press with glue coating rollers from Orma Macchine and further edge finishing, this time for shapes, with Eclipse by Vitap.

The Easy Jet CNC is the machine that enables nesting for optimisation of raw materials and also carries a broad range of horizontal and vertical boring options. Easy Jet carries two boring heads and a grooving saw working in the X axis with a 10 position auto-tool changer; it ticked all the  boxes ...  easy to use, compact and capable.

The 9hp electrospindle on the Busellato Easy Jet runs at 24,000rpm and both the electrospindle and the tool-changer are aggregate-ready. A vacuum grid table holds panels secure and the machine can be networked or fed through a USB connection. Busellato Easy Jet is a very versatile machine and it’s exactly what Flexfurn needed most urgently.

David Thomson Rowland was able to draw up a grid for manufacturing layout that could handle large sheet sizes of materials from melamine-faced MDF to a range of HPLs on plywood and in sheet sizes up to 5 x 12ft and material thicknesses from 12 to 24mm. Peter Whiteland had the work specifications all to hand and David now also had a usable area footprint to work to. It all added up to a financial package of the right equipment available from one supplier and against a single invoice.

“When you are trying to meet the needs of a market you’ve already identified,” says Peter Whiteland, “but can’t fulfill for want of the means to do the work, it’s very refreshing to find someone who knows all about the technology needed to do the job – and also someone who understands its deployment and technical support. I’m a salesman with no notable CAD experience so RW introduced several specialist engineers into  the equation to install the machines and then to train me and my team to make best use of them.”

“It’s been a steep learning curve,” says Peter, “a lot to take in, but the team has been great and David Thompson Rowland’s people from RW Machines are coming back again to continue the training next month.”