Megan Last: Woodley & Co.
Megan’s creativity brings out the beauty in rejected timber and she's ecstatic to be able to do it all in the place she calls home
Megan Last has travelled far and wide working in high-pressure jobs from London to New York, but today she has her own specialty timber company in Launceston.
Born and raised in Tasmania, Megan acquired a Bachelor of Commerce and Arts, majoring in Marketing before venturing overseas. Travels took her from working in a London digital agency for clients including 20th Century Fox, across to Canada, then by train to New York, before calling Melbourne home for a decade.
The desire to step off the big city treadmill was what finally lured Megan back to Tasmania.
When she returned home, Megan founded Woodley & Co. The small operation produces and retails their own range of unique local hardwood products for home owners and designers seeking material that is both beautiful and sustainable at an affordable price.
Her products include hardwood flooring, lining boards for walls and ceilings, stair treads and decking. Woodley & Co also provide dressed hardwood for joinery and fittings, furniture and decorative work.
In a little over a year of operation, hundreds of clients have been given access to local resources for use in distinctive homes and spaces, at a reasonable cost. The response has been such that Megan will soon be shifting shop to a larger premises.
“The bespoke hardwood grades celebrate the supposed imperfections found in timber. Historically, timber with the fewest natural features was the most expensive. This led to considerable wastage of timber that seemingly ‘didn’t make the grade’. Much has changed in recent times, and high feature timber has become more sought after. However, its value remains lower due to an engrained belief that it’s an inferior product,” says Megan.
“My mission is to shift the perception that timber needs to be perfect and improve the utilisation and sustainability of our local Tasmanian resource. We recover 70 per cent of a resource that would otherwise be wasted or turned into chips or wood fire fuel, and we send our timber all across Australia.”
People regularly wander into Megan’s warehouse looking for special grade Tasmanian oak for anything from vanities to bench tops. Megan takes them through the grades, lengths and options. Her marketing background has also come to the fore and she has given the timbers special names to reflect their character.
Megan has recruited Terry as her right hand man, who has worked in the industry more than 40 years. When he first came to work at Woodley & Co, he perceived the timber as sub-standard but today loves the non-industry grades as much as Megan.
“Terry used to refer to it as rubbish but now he finds a well-charactered piece and refers to it as gold!” smiles Megan. “We see things differently in this warehouse. And why should it ever go to waste? This is an incredible natural resource that has been neglected and discarded for decades.”
The rejected timber has been re-named by Megan with affection. The bespoke hardwood grades are a celebration of supposed ‘imperfections’ found in timber. One such grade is Rummin, graded for natural and quirky wood features. Then there’s Wild that has more extreme natural elements, perfect for creating a design statement. Others follow, including Barnback and Barnwood, beautiful skip-planed boards of varying degrees, giving an aged appearance. New micro-grades are also emerging including Tiger and Velvet.
“Tasmania can be a leader in home style and sustainable living and we’re excited to be part of that vision. Locals prefer to use Tasmanian timber in their homes, but often it’s beyond their budget. That’s where we step in and make it possible. We provide an easy and economical way to transform Tasmanian timber into something durable at whatever grade they seek.”
“I’ve been so well supported by the locals,” says Megan. “I think people like to see someone having a go. There are so few women in this industry so I think that’s refreshing too.”
As Megan prepares to expand into new premises, she looks forward to showcasing the creative scope and design opportunities that non-standard timber appearances offer to home owners and designers. With the move, she expects further staff will be required.
“It’s an exciting time to be back on home turf. I love being close to family here and it’s great to feel that I can give something back. Tasmania is really going ahead. I’m doing something different and very Tasmanian. There’s something special about being part of that.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
Find out more about Woodley & Co.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania, have a look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.