Every business has its own backstory. Here we share Meridian’s, their aspirations for the future and how they have grown to become a major player in the UK furniture market.
Take a driven 16 year old apprentice from Darlington with a hidden talent for furniture upholstery, a blend of steely ambition and fast forward 20 years and what do you have?
Established in 2007 by Jonathan Eager, Meridian Upholstery based in Newton Aycliffe has grown from strength to strength offering bespoke, contract furniture and fixed seating for a range of customers including retail, interior designers, contract wholesale, procurement and marine sector.
With big name customers that include amongst others the BBC, Hilton hotels, KFC, McDonalds, Nandos and more locally Rockliffe Hall, House of Tides and Flannels, the business has gone from strength to strength. And now with their sights on further growth the business is diversifying to create their own exclusive standalone range of sofas and chairs for their existing customers and the furniture retail trade.
Quality and choice come in abundance at Meridian and to date they have designed over 10 exclusive ranges. From the cosy classic Georgia to the marvellous Manhattan, the timeless designs offer something for everyone, are handmade in Britain and made to last.
From humble beginnings, MD Jonathan Eager has worked hard over the years to build and fulfil his ambition of growing a thriving furniture business which now employs over 20 designers, customer service staff, furniture makers and account managers. Or as the business aptly name their ‘Meridian Makers’.
“The journey began in the year 2000, with my first full time job at the age of 16 for an upholstery manufacturer in my hometown of Darlington in the UK. Within a couple of months of being there, my perception shifted from it being solely a job to a hobby. In fact, it was probably more of a passion!
I thoroughly enjoyed it, wanting to learn as much as possible – I’d even say I became a little bit obsessed with making furniture and over 20 years later the rest is history really.”
With no real business experience and little education having left school at an early age, one thing Jonathan did have was the hunger and determination to make things a success and in 2007, coupled with a real talent for upholstery, came an opportunity to do just that and start his own business.
“I had a passion to build a world class business that created well designed quality furniture accessible to all. But to achieve that I knew I had to give everything, work 120 hour weeks, receive little pay for months on end, sleep at work and even sacrifice relationships and a social life to make it work. Thankfully despite going through all of that and more, I’m pleased to say it paid off.”
The business prides its success on its focus to create affordable, quality products that customers love and that stand the test of time. With strong relationships and a growing client base, delivering an exceptional customer service is also a key cornerstone of Meridian’s success.
From bespoke furniture pieces to fixed seating the business has built a great reputation for delivering on their promises to provide high specification and well-designed furniture. With customers that include interior designers, marine buyers, contract wholesale to procurement companies, the team at Meridian are now focussed on creating a stand-alone sofa and chair range consisting of 10 different styles not just for their existing customers but the furniture retail trade too.
“We are proud to create fantastic pieces of furniture for the contract and commercial markets, but with so much interest in our products and with people asking where they can get their hands on a ‘Meridian’ (our social media channels have quite literally been buzzing !) we wanted to create a stand-alone range of sofas and chairs that everyone can enjoy, be that in their homes or otherwise. People don’t just want imported goods and at Meridian we are proud to design and build everything on site. Quality, British furniture that is handmade by our fantastic team of Meridian makers.”
To support their expansion into new markets, Meridian has invested significantly in resources including a new 36000sqft factory with state-of-the art design software and CNC technology and are now delivering their products to all four corners of the world.
And it’s with this growth, the business has been able to create a number of new job opportunities building a great place to work where people thrive and are rewarded for the work they do. Becoming a key employer in the region is a big focus and why they are keen to develop their very own apprenticeship programme not just providing career opportunities in the local area but an opportunity to pass on those all-important key furniture trade skills to the next generation of ‘makers’.
“We are one big family here at Meridian, people are proud to work with us and some have been with us right from the start. It’s because of the opportunities I was given in my early career, that I’m really keen to give back and do the same for others. I’m very passionate about the furniture trade and it would be great to see Meridian become a key employer in the region, a place where people want to work,master a trade and grow with the business. We have strong values that put the customer and our people at the heart of everything we do. We pride ourselves on going above and beyond but we have fun along the way too. What’s the saying? Work hard, play hard!”
By 2030 the business aims to be one of the most respected and recognisable furniture manufacturers in the country creating a lasting legacy that will benefit future generations of customers and employees alike. Lofty ambitions indeed but one we feel is more than achievable for the young lad from Darlington who found a love for upholstery and dared to dream!