During the recent 100% Design Singapore expo, Hall C of the Sands Expo and Convention Center at Marina Bay Sands became a playground for the creative.
The booths, awash in vibrant colors and designs, showcased the latest innovations in architecture and design. Exhibitors and visitors engaged in product demos and tests, while the workshops and seminar sessions at the center of the hall drew knowledge-thirsty crowds.
Like an oasis, a booth at the corner offered a calm respite to it all. Set up like a modest living room, the booth was appointed with creamy-hued furniture in clean, minimalist designs.
Visitors running their hands across the wooden furniture could feel its natural grains and textures, which gave the furniture its exquisite feel.
The furniture was the latest collection from Hinika, a high-end furniture label by Singaporean designer Jarrod Lim, and each piece was made in Indonesia.
Omega Mas is a furniture production company based in the small town of Pasuruan, East Java, producing rattan and wooden furniture for top furniture brands and retailers in Asia, Australia, Europe and New Zealand.
The owner of the company, Dietmar Dutilleux, has lived and worked in East Java for more than 23 years.
He first came to Indonesia in 1990 on an assignment from his company in Leuven, Belgium, to locate and purchase good-quality furniture from Java.
“The first time I came to Indonesia was for a contract for two weeks to help out,” he said.
“At that time, I was still at university. Afterward, my boss was so happy with what I did and offered a contract for one year,” he added.
The one-year contract was extended to two years, and then three years.
With well-made furniture from Java, the company expanded. Demand from customers in Australia, Europe and New Zealand grew rapidly.
Dutilleux suggested to his boss that they start their own workshop in Java to meet the growing demand.
“My boss at that time wasn’t really interested,” said the Belgian engineer.
“But he said, ‘If you want to do it, I’ll support you.’ So I basically started with his help.”
In March 1995, Dutilleux set up a small company named Omega Mas in Pasuruan with just six artisans, and with a heady mix of hard work and perseverance, his small company has grown steadily.
Today, the company occupies an 11,000-square-meter modern facility about an hour east of Surabaya, the provincial capital.
“I always call it small, but beautiful,” Dutilleux said with a smile.
From this “small” factory, the company exports to Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.
Among their customers are The Gourmet Kitchen in Australia and New Zealand, Interlude Home in the United States, and InHouse Europe in Germany.
Dutilleux attributes his success to his “People-Planet-Profit with Principle” way of work.
“People always come first,” he said. “People can be your biggest trouble, but also your biggest asset.”
As the employer of more than 300 workers now, Dutilleux understands that manpower is his greatest asset. Openness and honesty are therefore his main policies when dealing with his employees.
“The only way to make people happy in the long term is to be honest and open,” he said.
“Every time someone wants to talk to me, I’m available. In the factory, we have an open door policy for everybody.”
Dutilleux also encourages his staff to take pride in their work. In every furniture exhibition in which they participate, Dutilleux always takes pictures and sends them back to his factory, where the staff blow up the picture and post them on the walls around the factory.
“I always like the reactions of the workers when they come and see [the pictures],” he said. “[It’s as if they’re saying] this is my stuff and everybody is seeing them [at the exhibition].”
Dutilleux also established an internationally standardized work procedure for his furniture factory, and in 2011, the company achieved the ISO 9001:2008 certification for quality management system.
“For the staff, that’s very important,” he said. “So the way of processing things is really clear for everybody. And if there’s any problem, we can always go back [to the standards].”
Dutilleux makes sure that the wood that he uses comes from legal sources.
“We’re dealing with a very precious material,” he said. “Wood is a very precious material.”
The company usually buys teak and rattan from state-owned logger Perhutani, but for some projects it imports US oak.
Omega Mas is now in the process of achieving the local SLVK (Wood Legality Verification System) and international VLO (Verification of Legal Origin) certificates for its wood furniture for export.
“This is all to do with the legality of the wood,” Dutilleux said.
“Basically for us, being able to prove that is very important. We actually [put a] barcode [on] every single plank for traceability.
“If I look into my database now, every piece has a reference number. From that reference number, I’d know which wood we use and who did all the processes on that,” he added.
“For us, it’s very important
East Java Furniture Company Looking at Markets Close to Home