Business - Machines and Tools - Furniture Production Machinery

With the new CNC router they found the customers that brought them peace of mind

The article could have been called "I also met happy Romanians", I certainly wouldn't have been wrong. In any case, this was the feeling throughout the interview with Marius, Daniela and Iulian, the owners of the three initials in the company nameMDI Wood Ideasin Bucharest. It's been a long time since I've seen people leave such a strong impression that they have found their place, that they have arrived "home". It is a young company, only 2 years old, born out of the Start-Up Nation programme. We had met Iulian before and we knew from him that he had never been in contact with the furniture world before. Although they were just starting out, they worked up the courage to buy a CNC router. And, in order not to risk anything, they chose to buy it from Dan Pruteanu - Wood IQ. A smart move because, with the help of the CNC, they have managed to "grab" two permanent contracts that give them peace of mind and leave them time for other projects.

CNC Router
Marius, Daniela and Iulian (MDI Wood Ideas)
How they started

Iulian and Marius are partners in the firm. Daniela, Marius' girlfriend, is the one who gave them the courage to start and who helps them make important decisions or calls them at 11 at night to send them home. Marius and Iulian complement each other perfectly, one being in charge of the technical and artistic side and the other in charge of organisation. Daniela - a financial analyst - represents balance and is the one who has the power to tip the scales when important decisions are made. Her attitude, the way she supports them and gives them the push they sometimes need, seems to have been decisive in the company's evolution.

The company was set up in 2017 with the intention of participating in the Start-Up Nation. They started with the idea of working with solid wood, producing furniture and decorations from wood. None of them had ever worked in the field before. Iulian had worked in sales and real estate, Marius as an auto mechanic in a motorcycle repair shop. Motorcycles are his passion and, unlike Iulian, he liked where he was. Iulian, however, wanted something else, he wanted a place of his own and the Start-Up Nation programme was the trigger. He talked to Marius and Daniela about the programme as an opportunity.

They then informed themselves about the furniture market in Bucharest and discovered that there was an insufficiently covered niche on the side of custom furniture and interior decoration of homes. Affordable apartments are those with small spaces, and furniture needs to be adapted to the place. They told themselves they could do it and set off down that road.

The first machines

In 2017, after setting up the company, they called in a consultant to do the project for Start-Up Nation. With the help of the consultant they also chose the supplier of the machinery. They opted for a 5-operation combined machine, a band saw and a professional exhauster system. In the autumn they submitted the file and waited. It wasn't easy, because they were starting out on a new path and the uncertainty of the future sometimes unbalanced them. But they had faith in themselves and their plan.

At the beginning of 2018, the project was approved and in February, the money went into the account. They ordered the machines and in June they arrived. By then they had been working on various objects and pieces of furniture, mostly for friends. They had hand tools and a lathe, purchased in the meantime from Wood IQ.

After the machines arrived, everything went haywire. They hired two tradesmen, as young and passionate as they were, started to go out more and take on projects that didn't overlap with their original idea. They started out wanting to work only with solid wood, but the possibilities of the customers often led them to Chipboard and MDF. They worked hard, from morning till night, 7 days a week. Looking back, about 9 months after the machines arrived, they say they really felt they were on the right track.

CNC Router
MDI Wood Ideas Workshop
The 2×3 CNC and the adventure of bringing it to the workshop

They did quality work, met deadlines, and the word went from customer to customer. Iulian says they used to ask their customers how they got to them. Most come through referrals from satisfied customers.

Unfortunately, some orders had to be turned down because some rounding, milling or more special machining could not be done. That's how the idea of buying a CNC router came about. They started to study the offers and look for the supplier who could offer quality at the best price because this time it was not about grant funding but about their money. That's how they ended up with Wood IQ. They knew the offer from the fair (BIFE-SIM), where they had seen how it worked, and they had known Dan Pruteanu since they had bought the lathe.

The installation of the CNC in the workshop located in an old industrial building in Berceni has already become anecdotal for both companies. Dan Pruteanu said it was a real adventure, without going into details. But, I understood when I reached them. After detours and sneaking by car through a common courtyard full of machines and constructions, the first question was if they came there with the CNC. Iulian imagined it would come disassembled into component parts. He hadn't thought, however, that the sturdy 2×3 beater, which must guarantee highly precise machining and the elimination of vibrations, couldn't come in pieces. So they broke through a neighbour's wall to widen the door and get it into their workshop. Now that production has increased, they would need the extra space. They really hope to be able to expand here, where they are now, because the idea of moving the CNC somewhere else gives them nightmares.

CNC Router

A CNC that allows them to take on any job and has brought them peace of mind

Wood IQ's CNC router is a 2030ProATC. Marius, who is in charge of everything technical in the company, says he found it easy to work with him and is satisfied with the quality. The program is simple and supported by lots of tutorials. The CNC is stable and the ceramic bearing chuck does very precise machining. But even the less technical Iulian works on it. The difference between them is that Marius has the courage to test continuously, to do new things and knows that if he has a problem, he can always call Dan Pruteanu.

Thanks to the CNC they can now do any machining and no longer have to turn anyone away. That's how they were able to accept orders from two customers for small series production. They feel that these contracts give them peace of mind, secure their monthly expenses and leave them time to deal with other orders. Orders that have been increasing lately. This is demonstrated by the backorder tray policy he shows me with a joy masked by an apparent concern ... that they have to make more policies for new trays 🙂

With the CNC they also made decorative panels. They showed me the traces left by the last one - a wall clad with hexagons of different colours. They fit perfectly, you can hardly see the joint line. "Made with other tools they would never have fitted so well," says Iulian.


Future plans

Now they sit back and think about the future. They have a design program and the machinery to make custom furniture with whatever kind of material the customer wants, depending on the budget they can afford. They'd also like an industrial woodworking machine, but there's no room for it at the moment. Maybe after they expand. They also make combinations of wood with epoxy resin, plastic or metal. They set up a workshop for the metal part because they don't want to depend on suppliers. They are known for meeting their deadlines and don't want to have to miss it because of someone else's fault.

They have set themselves the target of hiring someone else early next year. Marius wants someone as passionate as he is. They're lucky to have young, passionate employees and would like to grow the team with someone who fits their style. So far, the CNC has filled the need for manpower, but thanks to him, orders are increasing and the team's growth can't be delayed. Especially since they also plan to start a new production department for a new niche market. They didn't tell us more, only that it is something totally new for the Romanian furniture market.

I left MDI Wood Ideas with the image of happiness in Marius' eyes, Daniela's warm reassurance and Iulian's confidence in the future. It was like a therapeutic encounter from which you leave more peaceful and confident. These young people are happy because they work hard doing what they love. It's that real happiness, given by the things that matter!

Good luck, MDI Wood Ideas!

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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