CONGRATULATIONS! 2016 Australian Furniture Master of the Year

Maria McLeod of Colby Furniture

Maria McLeod is remembered as a pioneer woman in a man’s business.

In 1986 Maria started an upholstery manufacturing company in Thomastown making high-class upholstery pieces to a very select group of retailers.

Just two years later she moved to a larger factory in Thomastown which enabled the expansion of a growing business.

‘I remember calling in to see this operation one day, to find it had a very large representation of females at the factory – a very skilled lady cutter , two female machinists , a female upholsterer and two ladies in the office,’ says Graeme Cock Chair, the AFA’s Masters Sub-Committee. ‘Women were on the march.’

The times were  tough, with huge interest rates, but the company weathered the storm.

Maria had become a member of the  Furniture Industry Association Australia  Vic /Tas and took an immediate interest in industry matters and became active on the Furnitex subcommittee which was the exhibition arm of the VIC/TAS office.

‘I found Maria to always demonstrate common sense and determination. She is very dedicated woman,’ continues Graeme.

‘She had accounting knowledge and she was a leader, which stood her in good stead during the bad times of 1988 to 1991. She gave of her time to help develop the industry when most branches including VIC/TAS, were desperately trying to become a national entity, but not all would agree.’

Colby furniture grew even more and moved to Blackburn and then finally to Box Hill.

The business had grown and developed over the years making quality products for Interior Designers, Interior Decorators and Architects

Maria became more active in the committee of the FIAA both at state level and national level and quite famous for her negotiation skills and her robust defence of her initiatives and opinions and eventually became the unanimous choice of Vic /Tas committee to take the reins as President.

‘I had the  great pleasure of working with her until I retired in 2003,’ says Graeme. ‘Of course I believe we made a great team on the Council in that period and it is with great pride that I and the Masters subcommittee reward this amazing energetic and responsible lady with the acknowledgement and recognition she so richly deserves. I trust she will enjoy the role and the honour bestowed,’ he concludes.

Maria is retiring soon and true to form, she will join as a volunteer to undertake international humanitarian work in the Pacific area for under privileged people.

The AFA Congratulates Maria McLeod on this wonderful achievement and wishes her the very best in her retirement.