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30 years in business - how Posturite helped pioneer a new way of working

Making it to 30 years in business is no mean feat, especially considering that only one in three businesses survive beyond the tenth year (according to the Small Business Federation). 

Back in the early nineties, ex-City-worker Ian Fletcher-Price didn't have particularly high hopes for his fledgling business selling the sloped writing board he invented in his mother's shed.

"Back then it was all about survival with not a single strategic thought about the future," Ian tells us. "In fact, it wasn’t until about year eight or nine when we first achieved annual sales of £1m that I realised Posturite might actually survive and would likely become my life’s work."

He stumbled into the world of ergonomics in 1990 largely by chance. When he was sacked for the second time from an insurance job in the city ("authority was a problem for me", he admits), he fled back home to take control of his destiny by becoming a cabinet maker. Or at least that was the plan.

"An old school friend commissioned me to design a sloping writing board that he could sell to his patients who he was treating for back pain in his osteopathic clinic. It was a welcome first project and I spent the next three months making prototypes. Simon was delighted with the sample and we promptly showed it at the British Institute of Musculoskeletal Medicine annual conference. Of the hundreds of delegates I must have spoken to that day, nearly all of them gave it an enthusiastic welcome.

"As I now know, anything new attracts attention - but I was bemused, having never been to a trade exhibition before. Anyway, Simon and I shook hands over a pint in the pub opposite that evening and agreed to set up Posturite as 50/50 partners."

And so the journey began.

Over the years Ian gathered a loyal team around him. Not just people who were good at selling, but people with backgrounds in healthcare and sports science, and who understood what Posturite was all about.

"I have always tried to recruit the highest calibre of employee as possible, to surround myself with equal or more capable people than myself. I think this has paid dividends and we work very hard to maintain a team ethos and pull together for each other," says Ian.

With computer use on the rise and more and more desk jobs popping up across the nation, it was the perfect time to disrupt the office furniture market with options that focused on health and productivity. 

Posturite's product portfolio expanded, with highlights including the flagship Penguin mouse, the DeskRite series of sit-stand desks and the Positiv range of affordable and highly adjustable ergonomic chairs. Through every decade, every workplace trend, every recession and every set-back, Posturite has stayed true to its mission to improve the health, wellbeing and productivity of the nation's workers. By remaining flexible, the company has been able to adapt to challenges, including the most recent chaos of COVID-19.

"Posturite lost 50 employees due to Covid-19 redundancies," says Ian. "This was without a doubt the most harrowing experience in my 30 years. To adapt, Posturite rapidly developed a new range of homeworking chairs and other substitutes within the overall range to satisfy new demands. Our flexibility and speed to adapt has paid dividends and we are now back to previous trading levels, despite zero face-to-face assessments being carried out, which traditionally generates probably half of all sales."

In 2017, global office supplies company Fellowes acquired a minority in Posturite and three years later, in March 2020, they took full ownership of the company - with Ian still at the helm as CEO. Commenting on the acquisition, Ian told us:

"Despite the COVID-19 challenges, the Fellowes board exercised the option to acquire the remaining shares, and I like to think this reflects the strength of the Posturite brand and business model despite a rapidly changing marketplace. It is very comforting to be part of a 100-year legacy that has seen many ups and downs and can work through any crisis of the day. I am excited to repay Fellowes’ trust and help lead Posturite through the next chapter of its journey."

For all his company's success, Ian insists he is most proud of two things: "The personal development of my colleagues along the way, fulfilling their career ambitions and secondly, designing several unique, globally acclaimed, ergonomic products. The brand is recognised around the world as the leading innovator of ergonomic products for the workplace and that is something I would not have foreseen 30 years ago.

"I hope that in years to come, Posturite will still be relevant to the health and wellbeing of employees and leading the way in innovation to adapt to an ever-changing workplace. "

Find out more about Posturite here.