Meet the Locals
07.31.2020

Meet the Locals: Bombora Custom Furniture

It never ceases to amaze me what a creative bunch of artisans we have down here on Victoria’s Surf Coast.

Whatever you may need or want, if you look closely enough you will find a local artisan who will provide you with world-class service.

Alison and Luke Collins run their thriving business Bombora Custom Furniture from Torquay, shipping bespoke furniture such as bathroom vanities and dining tables around the country. They also undertake larger joinery projects in local houses and create stunning solid timber kitchens, bathrooms, built-in bookcases and desks.

I adore the work they do at Bombora Custom Furniture, and recently had a chat with them about their business.

Alison, what drew you away from the big city lights of Melbourne to the Surf Coast?

Luke is a very keen surfer and his family had been coming to Jan-Juc for holidays his entire life. Then we got a caravan, and we’d also come and visit. Luke and I decided that the Surf Coast had the perfect lifestyle for us to raise our family. So, when our daughter was three months old, we decided to make the move! We wanted to come sooner rather than later, so I could form networks through mother’s groups.

Bombora Custom Furniture owners & Surf Coast locals, Luke & Alison Collins – Photo from bomboracustomfurniture.com.au

How does Bombora fit into the picture?

When Luke worked in Melbourne as a firefighter he’d work four days on followed by four days off, so he had a lot of time to himself. About 11 years ago, he went to a timber yard and bought some recycled wood. Then he went on to YouTube and started to learn how to make furniture for our house. He was a natural and he loved it. Eventually, we put a piece of furniture up on Gumtree, then we started to get custom orders. It grew from there. When we moved to Torquay, the business started with Luke working from our garage. Later on we moved to a workshop in Ashmore Road, which houses a community of workshops and studios. There are potters, concrete artisans, sculptors and blacksmiths all in residence.

Thinking of selling?
Just researching the market?

A lot of our surfie readers will love the name of your company!

Bombora is a surf term for a wave that breaks way out in the ocean. We liked the sound of the name as well as the sentiment, because our business started out of nowhere. I’d gone to university for six years to become an osteopath and Luke had a full-time career as a firefighter. When we first moved to Torquay, Luke was still working in Melbourne as a firey every other week, and we had two staff creating his designs. In many ways, it allowed us to have a soft start to the business, so we could invest back into it with more machinery. It has contributed to our success as we could grow without the risk. Now we have Luke plus three full-time furniture makers, an admin assistant who works with me, plus a casual furniture maker.

Tell us why sustainability is so important to you?

Our preference is always recycled timber but if a client wants a type of timber that isn’t recycled, we purchase the wood from sustainably managed forests. We reconcile this with the longevity factor. A solid timber product can last forever. If it’s scratched or damaged, it’s easily fixed or replaceable.

Having such a thriving business, how have you managed to retain a decent work-life balance?

When we first started, we were very absorbed and working long hours, six days a week. Now we’ve become more successful and have a team behind us, we focus on creating a work-life balance. We want to make it a sustainable business in terms of the wellbeing of our employees and ourselves. If the surf is on, our employees can go for a surf and make up the hours.

Bombora Custom Furniture – Photo from Facebook page

Are you a surfer?

No, I prefer walking in nature. My passion is living a sustainable life. I’m doing a permaculture design course. I try and grow as much food as I can. I shop in the garden before I shop for food. Getting your food locally is one of the biggest things that you can do on a personal level to impact the environment. We are fortunate on the Surf Coast that we have great local producers farming grass-fed beef, or locally made cultured butter, milk and eggs. It’s my focus to buy food locally as much as possible. I’m also a member of a Surf Coast organic food purchasing initiative called My Wholesome Pantry. We buy healthy food in bulk without packaging. Everyone puts an order in once a month.

So, how did the mother’s group go? Did you make lots of new friends?

Oh yes, I made lifelong friendships. There’s no way I could live in a big city again after being a part of a community like this. Every time we leave the house we see someone we know in Torquay. The majority of people who live here on the Surf Coast have moved here, so everyone has a very welcoming open attitude. It’s a very friendly community.

We’re so glad you are part of it! Find out more about Bombora Custom Furniture at their website.

Photo credit: Bombora Custom Furniture Bellbrae House