Wanganui Furniture Manufacturing Co. was formed on 15 June 1916 by Dan (Jim) Wilson and Percy Ginn, both cabinet makers, and Alf Anderson, an upholsterer. The business began as a furniture factory and showroom at 91-93 Duncan Street, Wanganui East, which fondly became known as 'The Factory'.
In 1918 the lethal influenza pandemic struck New Zealand. In just 2 months from October to December 1918 NZ lost about half as many people to influenza as it had in the whole of the First World War. Wanganui Furniture Manufacturing Co. took to making coffins to help with the increased demand.
A fire in 1921 completely gutted the factory but the three young partners immediately set about replacing the premises with a larger and more modern building. At the same time, to meet the needs of an increasing retail business, extensions were made to the showroom and to the upholstery and mattress making departments.
The 1930’s saw the beginning of the second generation of the three founding families on the staff. Along with other family members Ian Anderson joined the staff as a packer and truck driver, later qualifying as a upholsterer and flooring specialist.
A staff photo taken outside the Duncan Street factory and shop in 1939 to commemorate the making of tables and chairs for the cafetaria at the NZ Exhibition held in Wellington in 1940.
The death of Mr Wilson in 1939, the retirement of Mr Ginn in 1942 and the death of Mr Alf Anderson in 1954 saw the end of an era. Wanganui Furniture Manufacturing Co. remained very much a family business though with Eric, Jack, Ian and Bunt Anderson together with Jack Wilson serving as directors.
In October 1959 the company purchased the current premises in Victoria Avenue, which quickly became the flagship store. In 1961, fire struck the Wanganui East premises again. This allowed re-organisation and modernisation of the workshop, and the Wanganui East and Victoria Ave stores. In 1967 the decision was made to close the furniture manufacturing department so they could place more emphasis on retail. The company had been operating a factory for 50 years, employing in its hey-day over 30 cabinet makers. In 1968 the name changed to Wanganui Furniture Ltd to reflect the shift from manufacturing to retail.
The 1970’s saw the introduction of the third generation of the Anderson family to the staff. By 1975 Bunt and Ian Anderson were operating the company in partnership until the retirement of Bunt in 1982 when Ian, father of John and Geoff, took full ownership. In 1976 the company purchased A and T Burt Ltd premises directly behind its Victoria Ave store. This enabled the company to expand and centralise the flooring department under one roof.
In 1986 Ian Anderson died, leaving the 3rd generation of Andersons to take over the company. In 1987 the flooring showroom was remodelled, a new furniture bulk store was built and carpet bulk store was redeveloped. 'The Factory' in Duncan Street closed on 19 March 1988 after 72 years of business.
In the late 1990’s the company was rebranded to Wanganui Furnishers to encompass the full range of products on offer, and also joined Flooring First. Flooring First is a group of small flooring companies which enables bulk buying advantages and access to exclusive product lines.
In June 2016 we turned 100. While we didn't get a letter from the Queen, we did have a party to celebrate with current and previous staff.
Today, Wanganui Furnishers remains a locally owned and operated family business which is dedicated to personal service and helping with all of your interior styling needs from flooring, furniture, custom made curtains, blinds, and décor. John and Geoff continue to be directors, and the 4th generation of Andersons joined the staff in the 2000’s.