WHAT IS ABACUS?
Abacus is everything that my brother Richard and I have learned about making tables that people love;
It’s our refined build process that means we can custom build a premium quality table just the way you want it, on demand. It’s our engineered designs, that allow us to combine the best natural and man-made materials to ensure every table maintains it’s original strength and beauty, well…. forever. And it’s everything we’ve learned about giving customers the most enjoyable experience of getting the exact table they want.
In the early days of making our tables, we began to realise that our major weakness competing against the giants of the the furniture world – the tiny size of our workshop – actually gave us a strong advantage that our customers could benefit from – custom building their tables the exact way they wanted.
As we added more table designs and learned how to communicate the different styles, sizes and options a customer had to tailor their perfect table, the number of orders began to increase and in the space of a couple of years we were able to leave behind the small retailers we were working with and instead begin to serve our customers directly.
The response was better than we could have imagined, every customer thrilled with their tables and sending photos and testimonials of thanks. For the first time we felt like our custom built engineered tables were something special, and that was the point when we decided to really see how far we could take it.
We had to get smart and consistent, find suppliers we could trust to produce what we needed to the highest quality on demand, so we would never let anybody down, only exceeded expectations. It was a long and painful process and we certainly suffered a lot of stress trying to keep the promises we made to customers as we transformed our small workshop business into a well-tuned operation that could serve many more people, without losing any of the care and attention to detail that went into every table we made.
When we finally had all the pieces of the puzzle in place and felt ready to show the world what we had to offer, that was when Richard and I decided to name the business Abacus. The name comes from the ancient calculation tool, the original problem solving machine, helping engineers build beautiful things that stand the test of time.
Our plan was, and still is, very simple – to astound every customer with a product and service that genuinely makes their lives better.
MEET THE TEAM…
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
I’m John and I’m responsible for all our products, from the designs right through to working closely with our network of loyal suppliers to turn your order into a beautiful piece, or set, of furniture in your home.
Richard is the reason you’re reading this page. He’s responsible for ensuring that the people who we can help are able to find our products, understand what we do and choose the perfect table for their homes and lifestyle.
A few years ago when we built our previous website, we both wrote a short description about the other to help our customers get to know us better. In the years since, the ups and the downs, it’s surprising how little has changed…
Richards take on John…
John has an innate ability to understand and simplify the most complex of problems, and has made it his personal mission to show our business to the world with absolute transparency everything that goes on behind the scenes at Abacus.
In the early days…
When John graduated from university as a Naval Architect, he went to work in London. I was in the early stages of starting my own business and I was beginning to realise that restoring boats wasn’t quite as easy as I had thought. I’d often call John for some brotherly advice whenever the pressure got to me. A few wise words always got me back on track and focusing on the future expansion of the business.
Up up & away
Following the London based job, John was relocated to work on an gas terminal construction project in Wales. An opportunity arose for him and his now-wife Tori (who worked along side him) to move to Peru to be part of a huge construction project. An opportunity that was to good to pass up so off they went.
The 6000 mile support line…
We had regular (and expensive) chats and he’d amaze me with stories of problems and successes on a scale that I couldn’t imagine. It really helped to put my own problems into perspective.
Working with my brother…
When he returned to the UK 3 years later I showed him a coffee table that I had made, and suggested that we might be able to sell a few. He responded with a plan to build 4 tables (our oak beam living room range) and try to sell them on Ebay. If we sold 3 then we’d have a brochure and a website made and we’d start the business, and that’s how Abacus got started.
It’s been an experience, a good one I am glad to report. Johns ability to organise, understand, and learn about new things simply staggers me. His all around skills have enabled us to offer an overall customer experience that I am very proud to be a part of.
DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
At the heart of everything that Abacus is and does is Richard. At his core he is an inventor, never satisfied with things the way they are because everything can always be improved. A perfect illustration of his approach to life is when he was looking for a coffee table for his living room but couldn’t find anything he liked. Most people (including me) would choose to just make do with what was on offer, or decide against buying one altogether.
Richard didn’t, he ordered some oak beams and built his own table with no training, experience and barely any tools. His hard working and meticulous approach meant that one table had such a transformational effect on his living room that we decided almost immediately to start a business together making these strong natural tables.
Unafraid of any challenge, he had moved to Plymouth from Rochdale in 1998 to start a life by the sea on his own and within a couple of years he started his own business cleaning and polishing boats. Over the next 10 years he became an expert in restoring and maintaining the exterior of any boat, setting himself apart from his competition by being the only business able to keep a boat looking like new permanently (something only a handful of material scientists in the world understand at the level he does) to give their owners the maximum amount of pleasure from their hobby.
This is one half of what drives him – giving people a level of enjoyment from their lives that they didn’t know was possible. Couple this with a fascination in the latest and most innovative technologies and you can begin to see the founding values behind Abacus, a business for which we are both so fanatically passionate.
David knows more about wood and woodwork than me, Richard and our entire family, going back to the days of cavemen. He can make anything, from anything and has a loyal team of cabinet makers under his wing, allowing them to develop their skills as far as their ambitions will take them.
Since we started working together, he’s scaled up the workshop to more than 5X the size, with the equipment and space to expand the business and the versatility to add many more designs to our range and take on bespoke projects, whilst maintaining a finished quality of every piece we produce that is second to none.
The word “precision” is not precise enough to describe the quality and consistency of work that Andy and his team produce. No less than 4 have tried to shoulder the responsibility for delivering steelwork to the quality and demanding deadline that we promise our customers. All have failed. But I kid you not when I say that we have never had a single piece of sub-standard or even 1 day late steelwork produced by Andy’s team.
Their work is exemplary, the skill and quality of every weld, no matter whether it’s on a visible part of a table or not, is impeccable and this is a key feature that helps to put out tables in another orbit compared to any other table. In his spare times Andy refurbishes old aircraft lamps and parts, exporting them to specialist collectors around the world.
He continually hones his skills and we are fortunate to have him and his team producing all of the steelwork for Abacus. And the guy is never in a bad mood!
JAMES & KAREN DAVIS
Friendly, conscientious, practical and willing to drive to the ends of the earth (well the M6) to make sure we fulfil our promise to every customer. Every week James has ideas of how we an deliver a better service to our customers and every one of them has made our business better. Instinctively he is a people person who will not leave the home of a customer until he knows they are 100% happy with their table.
J.K. Davis is a family business, the family part alone would keep them busy enough without the massive workload that they handle through every week for us. Before we found James and Karen’s business we’d used many different companies from across the UK to deliver our tables, but none of them were able to provide the consistent level of reliable and professional service that our customers now receive.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
At the core of Abacus is a belief that nobody should have to settle for average. Our furniture isn’t for everybody; if keeping costs down is most important to you and you don’t mind having a home that looks like thousands of others, then go to Ikea. They are the masters of mass produced affordable furniture.
But if you want the opposite; something made just for you, custom built to fit the exact size and shape of your room, tailored to express your own personal style, to perfectly meet the needs of your family that will never let you down, choose an Abacus.
We look forward to helping you in any way we can.
John & Richard Williamson
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