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No pain, no gain for innovative desk start-up

Qualified physio Bart de Vries felt he was doing meaningful work, until he realised he was sending people back to the environments that had injured them in the first place.

Disheartened, he decided to give up his career to create “the world’s healthiest desks” back in 2015.

“I was sick of seeing people return to the environments that were injuring them.

“I decided I should look for a better workspace setup but couldn't find one that did what I wanted.”

Seven years on, Limber’s space efficient, sit-stand-kneel desk system is being used by more than 1000 customers worldwide, including the likes of Xero, UC Berkeley, and Meta (aka Facebook).

Value-driven to its core

De Vries says Limber’s values can be boiled down to care for people and the planet. 

Its desks are made from sustainably forested wood, and offset 120%+ of the manufacturing emissions.

“We are on a mission to halve the global disability from back pain by 2050. Back pain is the number one disability in the world.”

He says the business is on a mission to make lives better, but it will also unleash a huge amount of productivity and creativity that can be used to solve the problems that face humanity.

Growing pains

“The past 3 years have been a bit of a rollercoaster,” he reflects.

With lockdowns and people moving to working from home post covid, he says more people wanted desks that were adjustable and don't cause pain.

“The flipside is that with supply chain disruptions and costs increasing across the board we have had to battle through the complexity a bit, just like everyone has.

“We’re very grateful for our enthusiastic and supportive customers.”

The business launched b2b a month before the first lockdown then had to switch 100% direct to consumer which required a lot of work.

Finding a manufacturing partner during the first lockdown to then deliver for the new level of demand, then switching to another partner soon after was another real challenge for the business. 

“Fighting for supply of raw materials and seeing our margins disappear with inflation meant we have had to make big decisions quickly and on the run to save the company.”

All of its business comes from online sales which it fulfils from its Lower Hutt workshop.  

The business expanded to Australia in July using a third-party logistics provider to fulfil orders quickly. It is also sold into the US, Canada, Spain and the UK shipping from New Zealand. 

Once Limber has an established presence in Australia, it plans on expanding its presence in the US and beyond.

“We are also looking at how we can supplement our physical products with a digital offering. The first of these being an at home ergonomics certification which we are currently selling to corporate customers to help their people to avoid pain and have a healthy work from home set up.”

De Vries says New Zealand has a premium brand on the global stage and he’s proud to leverage Kiwi-made as the brand presents its products to the world.