QR Job Was on Wood; but an Outdoor Furniture Future Was a Sleeper for Bororen's Harding Family

The Observer (Gladstone, Australia), November 26, 2010 | Go to article overview

QR Job Was on Wood; but an Outdoor Furniture Future Was a Sleeper for Bororen's Harding Family


WAYNE Harding gives credit to the popular look of the outdoor furniture the family business produces to wife Leesa.

The best thing that happened to the former sleeper-cutter and his family was when Queensland Rail decided to use concrete sleepers rather than wood.

However, it didn't seem so at the time.

"They (QR) gave us no notice at all, and suddenly sleeper-cutters were unemployed," he said.

So the Hardings took over management of the Bororen Motel for a number of years.

But Mr Harding still had his saw and there was a lot of good quality timber lying around that was scrap to everyone else.

"I made a barbecue setting for Lisa's mum because she was having a party and it seemed to attract a lot of attention from the guests," he said.

During the time they were managing the motel they had bought a 60-acre block of land (later they bought another 55 acres block next door) just outside of Bororen and moved their family, which included four sons, Bill, Dan, Tom and Jake, on to the property.

In a shed Mr Harding started making outdoor furniture that was even then attracting more and more demand because of the quality of the workmanship and the almost indestructible quality of the well-seasoned Australian hardwood Co mainly blue-gum and ironbark.

The business the family set up, Harding's Mill Furniture, is furniture made from off-cuts (known as flitches) left over from the sleeper-cutting days. These were carefully chosen and cut into neat planks.

The real turn-around came when the saw broke down and Mrs Harding suggested that the flitches would give more character to the furniture than timber too neatly milled.

She was right Co the orders wouldn't stop coming despite the fact they rarely advertise.

All their four boys were part of the business at one time or another. Although three have moved on to seek their own careers, the youngest, Jake, 16, is now his father's right-hand man.

The family business has now been operating for around 18 years. According to the Hardings, they have never had a word of complaint from customers. …

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