Merritt Joinery: A story of family and expert craftsmanship

Amanda Hardinge grew up in the cabinet making and joining industry. Her father and his business partner started Merritt and Fair in the 1980’s making custom joinery in their backyards. Amanda was the ‘rack stick girl’ pushing racks of timber around for her dad after school and on weekends. Amanda’s plan wasn’t to work in the company, she trained as a beauty therapist, but business management interested her. Today she is CEO of Merritt Joinery, with her brothers as Directors and together they are continuing the family legacy.

Amanda spoke to the Original Thinkers Podcast representing the Makers in the Supply Chain Series. As well as exceptional joinery around Tasmania the Merritt family are also making architect and designer’s plans into reality with their technology and craftmanship all the while training the joiners of the future.

A splash of warmth

Amanda told the podcast that Tasmania’s timber heritage is part of her family as well as the backbone of their company. While there is a broad spectrum of work they produce, from internal kitchens, doors and windows to custom products, timber is 80% of their business. Amanda credits the enduring nature of timber to the warmth that it brings to a space;

“I feel most people want that warmth. [Even if a project is mostly] plain white, they usually want a splash of timber. A splash of warmth.” 

Kanamaluka House is a recent project starring joinery work by the Merritt Joinery team.

“I enjoy seeing that it’s just not one person that’s doing the job. There’s 10 or more usually involved behind the scenes [working on a project]. It’s lovely to see everyone pull together on a job. They appreciate what they’ve put their hard work into.” Says Amanda

“In [Kanamaluka House] they used a massive range of species throughout the house. A lot of people don’t put that amount of timber into their jobs because I think they get a bit worried about grain and feature. The end result looked amazing.”

Education is key

Throughout her interview on the Original Thinkers Podcast Amanda spoke of the importance of education. From encouraging girls to join trades, to the importance of early and clear communication on jobs, to misinformation about the timber industry.

A recent project, the perforated Tasmanian Oak acoustic celling panels at the University of Tasmania’s Library at Inveresk, was a great example of both an education for her staff and a stunning place for northern Tasmanian students to study.

“It was such a huge project.  And it’s so beautiful to walk into that room and realise that your team made all those panels, to actually see them in that room is quite humbling, and to say that we created that for such a unique space for our university students.”

Speaking about the Tasmanian timber industry as a whole Amanda says that education is the key to people understanding the supply chain, and the value that timber brings to the Tasmanian economy.

“Everyone uses [timber] in everyday life. They don’t realise that everything we use and do these days comes from timber or some sort or another resource. [There needs to be education because] if people can see the whole picture it’s actually not what they think it is.”

The future of Merritt Joinery

As the four adult Merritt children, Ross, Amanda, Scott (Scooter), and Christopher (Snowy) work alongside each other to create the beautiful joinery around the state Amanda spoke of the future:

“We’ve got guys on the floor that have been with us for nearly 25 years. It’s beautiful that they’ve stuck around. They love seeing us grow just as much as working for the company. There’s a few [of our children now] coming through the ranks that we hope one day might want to pick up the reins and keep carrying it through. We’re hoping [the next generation of Merritt’s will continue on the family legacy] I’ll put it that way.”

Original Thinkers Podcast
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