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Recycled furniture king celebrates 20 years of export success

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Ian Burden, founder of PGT-Reclaimed (International), the world’s largest producer of bespoke recycled furniture, is an Australian exporter who’s really looking forward to 2018.

In March next year his company will celebrate a major milestone – its 20-year anniversary.

And Ian and his wife Yung (the company brand manager) are planning a massive celebration in recognition of their global achievements.

Ian, who grew up in the Sydney suburb of Earlwood, now calls South Vietnam home.

His factory, which is about 45 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City, employs more than 700 workers.

And more than 3,300 tonnes of sustainable furniture is produced each month and shipped to 18 countries worldwide.

Ian launched PGT-Reclaimed (International) in 1998 shortly after a visit to Vietnam. At that time, he couldn’t help but notice the substantial amount of used timber from packing crates, pallets and dismantled buildings, being stock-piled throughout the country.

“Owners had to pay people to take it away and burn it, or they tried to sell it to villagers needing firewood,” he recalls.

“I then began to investigate ways in which this discarded wood could be used in a more environmentally friendly way.”

So, the journey to build recycled furniture began.

Environmental achievements

“Initially, there was a great deal of research done to find the most effective way to treat the material and develop pieces that would remain stable,” says Ian.

PGT’s sustainable manufacturing processes use 100% reclaimed wood, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance. 

The company is now recognised globally for its significant environmental achievements.

In the past eight years, since their records began, the amount of furniture PGT has produced with recycled wood, has helped to save an estimated 259,000 trees from being razed.

During the manufacturing process, there is no impact on the environment, with unique, custom finishes applied using non-toxic materials.

New finishing material

For the past 12 months Ian and his team has been developing a new water-based finishing material which will further benefit the environment.

“The finish is very important with all of our products,” says Ian. “And this will be a major transformation.”

The anniversary celebrations next March will recognise the impact PGT has had on the world environment.

To be held in Ho Chi Minh City, Ian and Yung (whom he met in Vietnam 16 years ago) will welcome people from the company's vast supply chain – including Australia, Canada, US, the UK and NZ.

Further growth plans

Ian admits he has come a long way since he started the company with just a driver and the help of a local businessman, who owned a small factory employing 10 workers.

PGT has further ambitious growth plans in 2018 after securing distributors in France, Germany, Belgium and Italy.

“By the end of 2018 we will be a true global company,” Ian says proudly.

And next year the company plans to relocate to a large block of land which it has acquired about 20 minutes from its current location.

Supply Chain Award

Ian and Yung visited Sydney recently for the 2017 Australian Supply Chain & Logistics Awards – and were not disappointed.

PGT-Reclaimed (International) was one of eight finalists in the International Supply Chain category.

Though they didn’t win, they were the only company to receive a High Commendation in that category.

“We think that makes us the runners-up,” says Ian.

Not a bad effort for a guy who began his career delivering telegrams and parcels through the streets of Sydney on a pushbike.

“It’s been a wonderful learning curve – and a very rewarding one.”

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