A day in the life of Tom, founder of Timbermill.

Ever wondered what it would be like to run a furniture business... we tied down Tom, the founder of Timbermill to give us a recap of an average day at work.... here goes x5:20am  - Wake up time…  / A year ago Sal and I decided to buy a house an hour or so down South in the coastal town of Bulli, near Wollongong. Mainly because we wanted to buy something, and didn’t think we could get the kind of house we wanted in Inner Sydney so decided to have a little coastal change and tackle the distance from Sydney which was a bit of a change after living in Marrickville 5 minutes from the workshop for a few years.

We commute most days, and then occasionally staying in Sydney. It’s been an adjustment getting used to the early mornings and 2 hour return commute especially running Timbermill as we can’t just pop back to work if something happens but the lifestyle benefits definitely make up for it living in a house by the beach. We’ve also undertaken a full house renovation on our little house, and discovered a new love of renovating. It’s definitely something which we will continue to keep doing in future years but now we’re looking into how it could work in with the business.  From 5:20 we're up and on the road by 6am.


7:00 am - Coffee time / After our journey in, we get to Marrickville around 7am and it’s straight to the local coffee shop with the dogs. We’ve started the routine of always arriving half an hour before the team just to have half hour to process it all a bit… once 7:30am hits, it is always go, go go and a bit of a blur.

7:30am - The team arrive, and the workshop is open. / We catch up Monday morning for a full team brief where we go through all upcoming jobs in detail. We also meet again on Wednesday morning, but it is a shorter one where everyone just touches base and confirm we’re all on track for the weekly deadlines.

Aside from these meetings, as we work on a 8 week build schedule the boys in the workshop will generally know what they’re working on a few weeks out which means everyone can arrive and get straight into it. We use an online project management software so all drawings and job notes are sent via this, which everyone can use via their phones. We’ve tried a range of things but this seems to work the best day to day as the office and the workshop can communicate quickly and efficiently.

8:30am - Admin / Once the workshop is going, I touch base with the office about any new projects that are coming up, drawings required for custom projects, and any materials which need ordering.

We’ve got a great team in the office, with Sal handling the day to day running of the sales/marketing/overall runnings of the business, Tanya handles all new and current sales projects, and Alanna handles all Rental accounts. It's an efficient little operation in there.

10:00 am - building time / Depending on the day, I try and get back in the workshop by 10 at the latest.  I still like to build a lot of the bigger bespoke pieces, and really enjoy doing it although it’s definitely harder to have full days in here now.

Throughout the day if we have sales meetings with clients, depending on the project I come across to join these , and we also have a rental returns coming in and out - everyone in the team helps out unload these from trucks, it is very much a situation of whoever is around. I find the time from about 10-2pm a bit of a blur.

Tom heading into the workshop
Tom heading into the workshop

2:00 pm - Eat  / At about 2pm I resurface from the workshop for some food. I have a bad habit of forgetting to eat lunch (as Sal and the girls often remind me), but try and remember to have something quickly before heading back to the workshop.

4:00pm - Workshop knock off / Our workshop closes between 4-4:30pm every day.  We wrap up the build, and everyone does a quick little check in which involves commenting on the project management software about where you're up to on each project. Helps just keep the flow of projects going. Once all this is done, we're trying to set off for Bulli again (sometimes it is much later but we’re getting better…) as it is much better to get away before the traffic and deal with admin/emails at home later on.

If we do end up working late, we'll always go to a local place in Marrickville for dinner and wait till later to drive home.

6:00pm - Back Home / As soon as we're back it's straight to the beach with the dogs for a swim.  No work talk during this time with Sal.. it’s definitely difficult to avoid, but we’re getting better. From there, we’re onto dinner.

8:00pm - Catch up / After dinner, Sal and I are generally back on our emails for a bit to tie up the loose ends of the day. - it’s often a productive time for quoting and drawing up projects. We’re learning to get better at the work/life balance but we generally enjoy what we do (most of the time) so it makes it all ok.

10:00pm - zzzzz / Generally am absolutely exhausted by this point, and knowing we start early we're into bed quite early.