© 2011 All Rights Reserved. Global Design Center 11.0300 Juction Tabes: JNRU2466 in White (WHT) laminate and JNLEG24 legs in Tungsten (TU2).
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news Munson Business Interiors, KY Dealer, Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Congratulations to Mindy Munson and her team at Kimball dealer Munson Business Interiors (MBI), which last year marked its 25th anniversary.
Mindy opened for business in 1986 working as sole employee out of a 1,000 sq. ft. office on the strength of just $20,000 in start-up money. Today, a sparkling 22,000 sq. ft-plus facility houses 21 full-time employees and sales at the dealership are running around $10 million, Mindy reports. Along the way, MBI has been recognized by its local business publication as one of Louisville’s fastest growing companies and is a multiple winner of its local IFMA chapter’s Project of the Year award. Mindy and her team celebrated the landmark in fine fashion, when they turned part of their warehouse into a South Beach nightclub and hosted some 150 customers, business partners and other guests for a special anniversary party. That’s not all the dealership has to celebrate these days. Despite continuing market challenges, sales growth at MBI has been in the plus column for the past two years and Mindy is optimistic for more of the same this year.
The OFDA Scholarship Fund: Fifty Years and Counting! This year marks an important milestone for the OFDA Scholarship Simon De Groot Fund, as it celebrates its 50th year of service to the industry. The escalating cost of a higher education has become an increasingly serious challenge for many OFDA members and their families and since 1962, the Scholarship Fund has offered the association a very direct and effective way to help them meet that challenge. More than 20 new scholarships are awarded each year, thanks to the generosity of OFDA members who support the fund with their tax-free contributions. The deadline for submission for 2012 scholarships is March 16 and any person who is an employee or related to an employee of an association member firm may apply. In addition to a completed application form, candidates must also submit a transcript of their grades, credits, and rank in class, along with a a letter of recommendation from a person employed by an association member firm. Candidates must have graduated from high school or its equivalent before July 1 of the year in which they would use the scholarship and must have an academic record sufficient to be accepted by an accredited college, junior college or technical institute.
Congratulations and here’s to the next 25 years!
NY Dealer ROI Office Interiors Hosts Designer Artist Show In Syracuse, NY, the folks at ROI Office Interiors came up with an innovative way to forge closer ties with the A&D community recently, when they hosted their second annual Designer Holiday Artist Show. The event showcased the hidden talents of local designers, as they presented a broad spectrum of arts and craft items, including jewelry, pottery, pen and ink drawings and more.
Students already in college or graduate school are also eligible to apply but previous scholarship winners are not eligible. More information and an application form are available on the association’s website. If you or someone in your member firm has a student headed for college later this year, now is the time to get started on an application.
Eight local designers were featured at the event which drew about 100 attendees and also served as a fundraiser for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. ”We’re always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and the designer show offered an ideal opportunity to do just that,” continued on page 4
continued from page 3
said ROI’s Jennifer Christmas. The dealership also offers an extensive educational program that includes an eight-week LEED certification course and a session on working with and selling to the new, multigenerational workforce. Evidently, it’s all paying off quite handsomely. Business has been growing nicely, Jennifer reports and the dealership will be opening up an additional branch in Albany early this year to join its existing operations in Rome and Syracuse.
But as they proved recently at a special fundraiser hosted by two of Wisconsin’s leading A&D organizations, their expertise extends even further when they’re given the opportunity! The event in question was STRUT, a fashion runway show hosted jointly by the Wisconsin chapters of the IIDA and ASID that paired design teams from the A&D community throughout the state with manufacturers’ representatives to produce unique fashions made from industry materials. Two teams from BSI submitted entries and came away with three of the top awards: Best of Show, Audience Favorite and Most Wearable. Kudos to BSI designers Teryn Janecek and Tricia Krocka for strutting their stuff on behalf of the company and modeling runway attention-getters featuring products made from IPC wall guards and Momentum fabrics. All they’ve got to do now is figure out how to do even better next year!
New Role for Industry Veteran Bud Miller at DeKalb Office Alabama Industry veteran Bud Miller has recently accepted a new role with DeKalb Office Alabama in Birmingham as its director of new business development.
One of the prize-winning entries from BSI at the STRUT fashion show.
Design Experts from Building Service, WI Dealer, Strut Their Stuff at Industry Fashion Event In Milwaukee, WI, Peter Kordus and his team at Building Service, Inc. (BSI) pride themselves on their ability to operate as a true one-stop shop for the design/build/furnish process, with a portfolio of products and services that covers just about everything from construction through to furniture delivery and installation.
Miller will call on A&D and real estate firms, manage most corporate accounts and develop new business as well as secure new business leads for the DeKalb Office Alabama sales team. His new role is designed to deepen the dealership’s relationship with the A&D and real estate community, as well as market its new Customer Experience Center, DeKalb Office said. “Bud’s new position allows us to invest in the Birmingham community on a casual level,” commented president and CEO, John Rasper. “He has a very warm personality and strong ethics, both professionally and personally. It’s really a great fit for him.”
BIFMA November Numbers: Orders and Shipments Both Down 3% The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) released industry order and shipment numbers for November earlier this month and while both were down 3% compared with the same month last year, analyst Budd Bugatch of the Raymond James investment house offered an optimistic analysis, describing results as “a pleasant surprise.” Bugatch said prior year comparisons were far more challenging than in 2010 and he noted November orders were flat compared to the previous month, much better than normal seasonality.
Teknion Survey Reveals Workplace Trends A new survey from Teknion of workplace trends has revealed some dramatic changes driven primarily by advances in technology, shifts in work patterns and a greater desire for work-life balance and living sustainably. Teknion's Workplace of the Future Survey indicates that by 2015, workplace utilization is expected to increase from levels between 35% and 50% today to 85%, as the deskto-employee ratio is addressed and space is reapportioned. The most common strategies companies are employing to accomplish increased space utilization include deployment of open, collaborative workspaces with fewer offices (77% of respondents), densification of workspaces (62%), and reduced square footage footprint through disposition (54%).
The 20-year median October to November decline has been 7%, Bugatch pointed out. In addition, Bugatch said trailing 12-month orders totaled $9.43 billion, up 10.6% year-over-year and 25% above the February 2010 trough. “The November BIFMA statistics … support our view that the current slow patch is transient, and not indicative of the end of the cycle,” noted Bugatch, who said he had been “braced for worse.” “While we expect orders to be choppy for the next few months, we believe the industry will ultimately experience modest positive order growth in 2012,” Bugatch added.
satellite or client sites and mobile working programs such as desk-sharing, hoteling or co-working spaces. The survey also revealed that 78% of the companies polled have fewer than 10% of their employees working from home more than one day a week, but expect that to grow by 2015.
WorkPlace Furnishings Announces 2012 National Conference “Building Blocks for Success” is the theme of the WorkPlace Furnishings dealer organization’s 2012 National Conference. Set for April 15-18 at the Hyatt Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, FL, the conference will bring together the group’s dealer members and their business partners for three days of education, information exchange and networking.
Other strategies cited included having more employees working remotely from home, JANUARY 2012
Meeting highlights include: n Dealer-only roundtable discussions and special presentations on personnel management, social networking, used furniture opportunities and effective outsourcing. n Keynote speaker and former Herman Miller dealer Jim Ryerson n Motivational speaker and business consultant Dirk Beveridge. Also on the agenda: the traditional One-onOne Sessions between WorkPlace Furnishings dealers and their supplier partners on upcoming new product introductions and marketing programs. For more information or to discuss membership, visit www.workplacefurn.com or contact the group’s president, Greg Nemchick at 724-771-1452 or email@example.com.
continued on page 6 OFDEALER
Industry News continued from page 5 Service West to Focus on Pacific Rim Business
AIS Launches New Casegoods Line
Installation company Service West has announced it will focus its resources on business opportunities in California, Australia and Asia for the foreseeable future.
AIS has launched a new laminate casegoods line called Compete. The line features two edge profile thicknesses, nine laminate finishes and seven handle options and can be used anywhere from reception stations to traditional task stations and private offices, AIS said.
The company said the announcement was intended in part to end speculation about the future of the recently closed Service West operations in the New York and Washington, D.C., metropolitan areas. “The decisions to close New York and D.C. are final,” president Mark Vignoles said. “The clients whose projects we worked on in those markets were very supportive of Service West’s presence, and we deeply appreciate their business and their encouragement. But it’s essential to conserve our financial strength and continue investing in the people and material resources we need to operate effectively where Service West is in the best position to retain and gain market share when economic recovery truly does arrive.”
Davies Office Expands National Sales Team Remanufacturer Davies Office has appointed Douglas Pilgrim as its national business development manager. His responsibilities include executing marketing and sales strategies within the corporate, commercial real estate and A&D markets.
Products from the new AIS Compete line include the private office above.
Pilgrim is a LEED Accredited Professional ID+C, BIFMA level authorized faculty member, past Interface Everest Award winner and brings over 20 years of industry experience to the position.
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w w w . m o c k e t t . c o m Ü 8 0 0 - 5 2 3 - 12 6 9 JANUARY 2012
OFDA Announces 2012 Officers and New Directors OFDA is pleased to announce new officers and directors of its 2012 Board of Governors. Steven Lang, Principal of Dancker, Sellew & Douglas in Somerville, NJ, will serve as the 2012 Chair of the OFDA Board of Governors and Sandi Jacobs, President/COO of Sidemark in Santa Clara, CA has been elected by the OFDA Board to serve as Vice Chair for 2012. Frank Gutwein, President of Widmer Interiors, with offices in Peoria, Normal, Champaign and Rockford, IL, continues as a board officer as the immediate past chair of OFDA. As Chair, Lang will provide leadership with the Board of Governors and OFDA President Chris Bates in prioritizing and developing a strategic 3-5 year plan to increase membership and improve OFDA’s unique value as an industry leading association to the dealer community. “There are significant changes happening in our industry,” said Lang. “We need to improve the value of the dealer in the food chain of our industry. Together, with the help of the board and task forces, we can
improve the presence and participation of OFDA in its representation of the dealer and further expand on the value of membership for dealers and manufacturers alike.” “Steve’s business experience makes him an ideal candidate to help OFDA highlight its member benefits and define its strategic plan for the future," said OFDA President Chris Bates. “In addition to being a great leader and motivator, Steve is very familiar with OFDA’s programs and most recently served as chair of OFDA’s Dealer Training & Development Task Force." OFDA also announced new directors elected by the Association’s membership to serve a 2012-14 Board term. They are Jonathan Felton, Principal of Associates Purchasing Corporation in Los Angeles, CA; Kristen Haren, Chief Operating Officer of The Inside Source in San Carlos, CA; and George McCaughan, President of MBI Workspace Solutions in Memphis, TN. Continuing dealer directors on OFDA’s Board include: Frank Gutwein, President of Widmer Interiors, Peoria, IL, and OFDA’s
past chair; Ralph Dallier, President/Owner of Franklin Interiors in Pittsburgh, PA; David Feder, Principal, ROE/Evolution Interiors in Chicago, IL; David Longo, President of Carolina Business Interiors in Charlotte, NC; Jim Mills, Principal of Office Interiors, Inc. in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; Mickey Spooner, Vice President of Allstate Office Interiors in Princeton, NJ; Matt Sveen, Principal of Intereum in Plymouth, MN; and Kristina VanDierendonck, President of KV Workspace in Mandeville, LA. Affiliate member directors include Alan Breslow of Global Industries; Shelley deSilva of The HON Company; Richard Driscoll of Knoll; Paul Holland of Haworth; Paul Iles of Herman Miller; Jean-Marie Murphy of Steelcase, Inc.; Greg Richards of Teknion; Bob Rohlman of National Office Furniture; and Mark Vignoles of Service West. OFDA thanks all of these directors for their strong ongoing support of the Association, its programs and dealer members.
Podcasts from 2011 Dealer Strategies Conference Now Available Podcasts and PowerPoint presentations from OFDA's September Dealer Strategies Conference are now available on OFDA’s website. Presented by industry experts and dealer and manufacturer panel discussions, listeners can choose from a variety of session topics including: • Hiring, Training and Managing Sales Talent • Communicate Your True Competitive Advantage • The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success • Leveraging Technology • Succession Planning • Emerging Workplace Trends & New Lines of Business • Managing & Installing Interior Wall Systems JANUARY 2012
• The Future of the Office Interiors Industry • Reaching Out Through Social & Local Media • Measuring ROI through Marketing • Collaborative Streamlining for Dealers and Installers In a post conference survey, 100% of dealers found the educational breakout sessions of good to excellent value. Check out their comments by clicking here. To access podcasts, visit www.ofdanet.org/OFDA-Conference-Podcasts. Not a member yet? Access to more than 30 podcasts is only one of the many benefits of membership in the association for office furniture dealers and their trading partners. Click here for more information.
It’sTime for the Long View Looking Ahead to 2015
By Bill Kuhn For several years now, most dealers have been focusing too much on the short-term—sometimes not even looking a year ahead, but instead, limiting their view to the more immediate next quarter, or even just to the revenue that can be generated in next month. Where’s that next sale? Fortunately, business has picked up a bit, and it's not unreasonable to expect a slight increase in revenue and profits in 2012. The good news is that we appear to no longer be on a decline, but I am concerned that too many dealers take the view that in this economy, we simply cannot plan ahead. Others express it slightly differently—we’re in a holding pattern until the economy turns around. That approach could delay any planning for five years! Longer-term planning has become a lower, and sometimes nonexistent, priority and that is not a good sign. Indeed, there may be no more important time than now to develop a meaningful and carefully thought out strategic business plan. Some organizations, in and outside our industry, are looking ahead at least three years. In almost every issue of publications such as Businessweek, Fortune, Inc. Magazine, and The Harvard Business Review, we can read articles about companies—large and small— and business leaders who have been looking ahead at least three years. Within our own industry, we can read about stories in past issues of this publication and in the current issue of NOPA’s INDEPENDENT DEALER e-zine which provide several encouraging examples of what dealers foresee for the years ahead and how they are planning to steer their businesses in response. I would challenge our naysayers who profess that we cannot plan what’s ahead and encourage them to look at those companies who are doing just that! Let’s turn the clock forward to January 2015 and consider what might be in the office furniture space and what we should be preparing for now.
Market Sectors In 2015, we’ll be even more tied into the world economy, particularly the European Union (our largest trading partner), and by then, China as well. The EU is and will continue to be fragile, curtailing American business, that is, our commercial market sector, from spending the cash it has. Major corporations will still have cash that they’re reluctant to spend. What does this tell me? Namely, that you had better take a hard look and be positioned to do well not only in the commercial sector but in other sectors, including healthcare, education and government. We cannot predict with certainty how each sector may grow, and yes, the 2012 elections will have an influence on all sectors, but I’m enough of an optimist to believe the extremes in both political parties and the uncompromising attitudes will lessen. No one, including Congress, wants the current congressional approval ratings to continue at an all-time low. As a country, we’re also smart enough to know that, if we are to continue to be a great nation, we need to address education. We cannot continue to have our educational ranking plummet internationally and remain a leader. We must deal with our outdated infrastructure, which will require investment by business and government. And no matter who wins the election, medical research will advance and the aging population will have to be treated and hospitals and doctors will need to have the resources to do so. Once again, what does this suggest in terms of long-term planning? It leads me to the conclusion that, in addition to the commercial sector, dealers need to develop the skill sets to be able to participate in at least two of these other three areas. A key dealer word for the future: agility. It’s true that some dealers may decide to specialize in only one sector and not be all things to all people. But if this is your chosen direction, you need to be exceptional—a leader—in serving that particular sector. continued on page 10
Looking Ahead continued from page 9 You cannot reliably predict who your customers will be three years Pricing and Costs from now. Again, that word “agility” pops out, along with the market Customers in 2015 will still want the lowest price possible. But they will also want service—the reason for a dealer’s existence.
development skills that enable you to be the first to know what will be happening in your market area.
Look at how the big box office products players have stubbed their toes recently. Price is not everything. While cost cutting was inevitable in recent years, I believe the generally more successful dealers focused more on where the economies can be, particularly in emerging areas of technology.
In 2015, our local and state economies will still be struggling and facing huge obstacles. We have and will continue to have an increase in a “buy local” mentality.
I’ve grown tired of hearing about the need to run “lean and mean” and “do more with less.” These attitudes can lead to cost cutting at the expense of your future (short-term versus long-term). They can lead to burn out for your very best people. They can lower quality and service, which can then result in increased costs and lower revenue through lost customers.
Local communities need to help one another. Those dealers who provide solutions to the issues in their local community will benefit from that investment. Working with your community should be one of the main services your offer. Think about what your organization can do to lead transformation in your community.
The Future Can Be Planned
Customer price demands affect a dealer’s cost structure, but I can cite several cost-cutting decisions that have had a downward spiral affect that can lead to the very question of survival.
In spite of these difficult economic times, foreseeing the future and planning for it is not an impossible task. It can happen and it is happening in many organizations.
I’ve seen dealers excited to have the ability to take advantage of such opportunities when their competitors’ cost cutting results have resulted in less quality and service to their customers.
I can cite a personal example. Over the years, and with even more involvement recently, I have devoted a considerable amount of my time to the healthcare industry, specifically in the hospital management arena.
The next three years will be a time for very careful decision-making, for identifying the cause of specific problems such as a lack of revenue and finding solutions that make sense, both from a long-term and short-term perspective. For many problems, the best solution is not always cost reduction. In 2015, we know pricing and costs will still be an issue. What we need to address is when and where to spend, and not spend, money. I remain a firm believer that dealer success is based upon the quality of its people and that remains an area very much worthy of investment. The talent in your workforce—and the ability to attract, create, retain and build that talent into a highly effective team—will be absolutely critical to surviving the conditions and exploiting the opportunities that will be prevalent in 2015. To achieve a creative and innovative mindset that focuses on people values—including communication, teamwork, leadership, and commitment—may mean that it’s time for you to spend some money wisely in your human resource function to invest in your future.
I am fortunate to be working with hospitals that have set extremely challenging (in some cases, seemingly impossible) visions. They are achieving these visions with people and personal values that set them apart from their counterparts. A great deal of business discipline needs to come into the healthcare arena, but hospitals, like dealers, are a service industry. I have seen some amazing strategic plans and models. I hope in future columns to share some of the values they believe have enabled them to achieve outstanding results. Is it too early to decide where you will be in 2015—who you want to be, what you will be known for? Not at all. You can set yourself apart and achieve great things, or you can be among the many dealers putting all your effort into next month’s revenue. You make the choice.
Other Changes Coming What else do I see in 2015? There will be more regional expansion within our industry and among our customers. There will also be more merger/acquisition activity, again both within our industry and among our customers. Your best customers today may be under new ownership in 2015.
Bill Kuhn, principal of William E. Kuhn & Associates, has been a noted industry consultant, writer, and speaker with over 40 years of industry experience. In addition to his contributions to OFDealer, he also authors a regular column in INDEPENDENT DEALER, our companion publication on the office products side of the industry at www.idealercentral.com. For more information, contact Bill by e-mail (BillKuhn1@cs.com).
that’s World Class Phoenix introduces the features you want, the styles you prefer and the toughness you expect
Business owners can experience the futurre of ﬁrre and water protection todayy, as Phoenix is currrently e accepting orders from independent dealers for Wo orld Class Files.
“World Class ﬁles combine every exceptional element we offer into one product that’s going to revolutionize the records protection industry” -Jeff McQueen, President Phoenix Safe International, LLC
Phoenix has had a terriﬁc decade. But with the introduction of the Wo orld Class line, Phoenix is just getting started!
Phoenix Safe International, International, LLC distributes a full line of files and safes offering offering protection otection on-site rrecords ecorrds d pr fire, against fir e, water and paper,r, data, theft for paper We media and valuables. W e have more more than 2,000 items rready e eady for quick shipping with installation delivery.. and delivery For information about Phoenix Safe International, contact Sharon Maish at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fire Fire isn’ isn’tt just the most common business disaster. disaster. It’s It’s the most devastating — destroying destroying irr irretrievable etr ievable rrecords ecords and and wiping wiping o out ut n nearly early h half alf o off tthe he companies it strikes. “Businesses that have thrived for decades can be undone by several several min minutes utes of of ﬁre,” ﬁre,” says says Je Jeff ff McQueen, president president of Phoenix Safe International, Inter national, LLC. “On-site records records protection protection is an investment that preserves preserves a company’s company’s past and future.” future.” Fo Founded unded iin n 200 2001, 1, Ph Phoenix oenix is on one e of tthe he n nation’s ation’s lleading eading su suppliers ppliers of ﬁﬁre-, re-, wa waterterand theft-r theft-resistant esistant ﬁles and safes. afes. T Today, oday o y, the company announces the brand-new World World Class ﬁle line, its latest evolution in superior on-site records records protection protection at a competetive price. True T rue r to its name, W World orld Class ﬁles blend the best of everything Phoenix of offers fers — useful featur features, es, elegant design, and guaranteed durability to withstand ﬁr ﬁres, es, explosions, impact, debris and water water.. “W “We’ve e’ve been in this business for 10 years, and we’ve listened to rrecommendations ecommendations fr from om independent dealers with whom we work, as well as their customers,” McQueen says. “Their invaluable feedback is reﬂected reﬂected in in the rugged endurance, eyecatching styles and valuable featur features es of the W World orld Class Line.”
The World Class features you want Whether personalizing filing needs or providing effective pr roviding o effffective security, se security, World World o Class files come standard standard with top-quality features featur es and options. World W orld Class ﬁles are are available in lateral or numerous drawer vertical models, with numerous conﬁgurations able to accommodate a standard variety of standar d or hanging folders. Privacy is assured assurred e by kkey-operated plunger locks with drawers that can be locked or unlocked in any combination. Inner steel jackets prevent prevent access to locked drawers fr from om unlocked compartments and keep iinsulation nsulation d dust ust o out ut of of tthe he ﬁﬁles, les, locking locking mechanisms and suspensions.
The World Class style you prefer W World orld Class ﬁles ar are e guaranteed to work har hard d in a ﬁre ﬁre and look k good in the of ofﬁce. fﬁﬁce. “At Phoenix, ‘tough’ never means ‘unattractive,’ ” McQueen says. “Over the last decade, our products products have always offered of ffferred e superior on-site on-sit rrecords ecords pr protection otection with attractive styles and colors.”
W orld Class ﬁles ar e sleekly built from from World are solid steel, with rrecessed ecessed drawer handles for a moder n touch. And their modern durable, textur textured ed paint ﬁnish is available in putty or black — a perfect match for most of ofﬁce ﬁce decors.
The World Class toughness you expect Phoenix World World Class ﬁles work from from the inside out to o of offer fffer unparalleled on-site rrecords ecords protection protection of documents and digital media, such as CDs, DVDs, USBs and memory sticks. “As has been the Phoenix standar standard d for 10 years, W World orld Class ﬁles have been rigorously rigor ously and independently tested to assure assur e the highest level of pr protection,” otection,” McQueen says. Made with pr proprietary roprietary o Styr Styronite ro onite insulation, World World Class ﬁles carry world-recognized world-recognized NTF 017–60 Paper certiﬁcation (equal to Class 350 – 1-hour ﬁr ﬁre e protection) protection) from from Europe’s Eur ope’s prestigious prestigious SP Institute. They also carry the MTC Grade B 30-minute rating for pr protection otection of digital media.That means paper and digital media ar are e safe from fr om the hottest ﬁres. ﬁres. Independent insulation pr protects otects closed compartments even if one is left open. And a labyrinth sealing system and special gaskets pr protect otect documents against water used to extinguish a ﬁr ﬁre. e. World Class ﬁles ar World are e also tough on the outside — built of solid, one-piece steel and tested to withstand debris, dr drops ops o off up up to to 30 30 ffeet eet and and 2000°F 2000°F explosions. explosions. And when a W World orld Class ﬁle is called upon to pr protect otect vital records records in a ﬁre, ﬁre, Phoenix will pr provide ovide a free free after-ﬁre after-ﬁre rreplacement. eplacement.
SAFE FE INTERNATIONAL, INTERNA INTERNATIONA A IONA AL, LLC L
(Clockwise from top)
Jeff McQueen, Janet Pape, Cooper, Sharon Maish Penny Cooper
By Scott Cullen In a 2010 OFDA survey on social networking 58% of respondents said that social networking was very important for business vs. 39% who felt it was somewhat important. Since then, online experiences and results have gone a long way towards either changing opinions on the topic or validating those original opinions. Recently, we caught up with some of the survey respondents who shared with us how they are leveraging social networking in their businesses today and described what happened between 2010 and 2011 to make them a bigger believer in the value of social networking. Mickey Spooner’s opinion of social networking hasn’t changed one iota since the 2010 survey. The vice president of All State Office Interiors in Princeton, NJ, felt it was very important in a business environment back then and he still feels that way today. All State uses LinkedIn, which combined with Facebook extends their visibility throughout the community and as Spooner notes, “helps make us look bigger than we are.” “I look at it as free marketing dollars as long as it’s done in a correct manner,” adds Spooner. One of the original motivations for getting into social networking was so Spooner could find out as much as possible about potential clients before making the initial call. JANUARY 2012
Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook allow Spooner to dig a little deeper and find out more information about a prospect. It also allows him see to whom they’re linked and to whom he may also be connected. And when there’s a mutual connection, it gives him another lead into an introduction. “You can sometimes find out more about an individual [by connecting with them on LinkedIn] than visiting a website,” says Spooner. “It helps you get all your ducks in a row before making a phone call. It’s better than a cold call.” Spooner is careful about how he uses LinkedIn. He limits his network to customers and prospects and avoids other reps in the business because he’d rather them not see who his clients are. Spooner isn’t using Twitter yet, but expects to take advantage of it in the near future and will likely have someone on staff responsible for Twitter feeds and LinkedIn connections. “It almost becomes a full-time job because you want to make sure the information you’re putting out there has a purpose behind it. Otherwise, you’re going to turn people off,” cautions Spooner. All State has posted pictures of their new showroom on Facebook and also runs newspaper ads that encourage people to visit and ‘Like’ their Facebook page.
continued on page 13
Cover continued from page 12 While social net- “You’re out to get your name working at All State out, not to sell somebody, is still a work in progress, Spooner especially when they’re just reports the dealership plans on using it getting to know you.” to promote all of their capabilities and extend their reach. “When someone googles All State Office Interiors, our Facebook page comes up as well. That’s something we’re not paying a service for and it just increases our exposure. Free marketing is best as long as it’s good marketing.” North Point Office Furniture in Roswell, GA, continues to find social networking very important. But as they make social networking a bigger part of their marketing plans it creates a burden of sorts, suggests co-owner Debbie Nack. “It’s a challenge keeping up with all the
opportunities,” she says. “I try to keep up with it, but we’re spread thin.” As businesses feel their way around the technology, they’re learning through experience what works and what doesn’t, as well as seeing social networking’s limits and limitations. Nack has found Facebook to be a valuable marketing tool along with LinkedIn and Twitter. “People are responding and calling after seeing our posts,” she says. “I try to ‘Tweet’ at least once a week and wish I could do it more, but you don’t want to bombard people.” During the year-and-a-half that North Point
has been using social networking Nack has learned some valuable lessons, the most valuable of which is that it works. However, she has some advice for others as to how to best use it as a marketing tool. “You’re out to get your name out, not to sell somebody, especially when they’re just getting to know you,” she argues. “There are a lot of people who network like, ‘When are you going to buy? How are you going to buy?’ I network just to let people know what we do and to come see us. My approach is a little softer than some people. I don’t like it when people do it to me and I don’t like to do it to other people.” At BKM Total Office in Dallas social networking is more important to the continued on page 14
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Cover continued from page 13 company today than it was a year ago when Carlene Wilson, principal, described it in the OFDA survey as “moderately important.”
“When people apply for a position in sales, I don’t even look at them if they don’t have a LinkedIn account,” she says.
BKM’s sales force are heavy LinkedIn users. The dealership also has a Facebook page and has used YouTube to send out their holiday greetings to customers.
Wilson has also discovered the networking potential of LinkedIn.
“You can’t get away from it and the earlier people embrace it and figure out what to do with it the better off they’re going to be,” says Wilson.
“If we’re targeting a company and don’t have a relationship [in that company], chances are somebody in our network does,” she explains. “We use it to identify prospects and who we know who is linked to that company so we can reach out to them. That’s been very successful.”
BKM Total Office does an annual relationship survey and links it to their Facebook page. Plus customers who follow BKM Total
Asked if she’s learned any lessons about social networking that she wished she knew when she first started, she shares a story from last December.
“We use it as a touch point to showcase new products,” adds Wilson.
YouTube. In less than 24 hours we had 12,000 hits. It went viral quickly and then YouTube shut us down. There were two reasons why they did so: First of all, we did not understand we had to buy the rights to the song we used, and secondly, because we were a company it was perceived that we were advertising and that’s not what YouTube is all about. We had no idea.”
“My recommendation is before you venture into social Office on Facebook media, make sure you do “Last year for the first have a chance to win iPads and other time we did our holiday your homework.” prizes. greeting and put it on For example, after a visit to a manufacturer’s facility, BKM Total Office posted photos on Facebook to show their followers what they’re doing. Besides marketing, Wilson has discovered social networking enhances the prestige of the organization in the eyes of millennials, which makes BKM Total Office an attractive work environment for those individuals. “We’re all about that and want to be perceived as a company that’s on the leading edge,” contends Wilson. She’s also found that it’s not unusual for those going into the second or third round of the interview process to be all over BKM’s Facebook page. “They’re trying to understand our culture, who we are, what our brand is all about, and that’s our vehicle to do that,” she notes. Wilson is also extremely bullish about LinkedIn.
The newness of social networking remains a challenge as businesses like BKM learn to navigate through the social networking landscape. “We learned we really didn’t know enough,” Wilson admits. “My recommendation is before you venture into social media, make sure you do your homework.” While Jim Mills, CEO of Office Interiors in Dartmouth, Canada, says he hasn’t changed his opinion about social networking—it’s still just moderately important, he opines—it becomes obvious very quickly when you speak with him that social networking has become a much bigger deal for Office Interiors over the past year. “Obviously social networking is here to stay. The challenge is figuring out how to deploy it in the B2B environment in a way that’s most effective,” contends Mills. In Office Interiors’ case, their focus earlier this year was primarily on LinkedIn because of its access to professionals, which Mills says is ideal for B2B applications. “What we did with LinkedIn was set up a thorough training system with an outside trainer and engaged our entire sales team. We wanted to give our sales team some basic training on LinkedIn and encourage them to go out and leverage that into opportunities, which actually has happened.” He continues to encourage his sales team to get creative and share continued on page 15
Cover continued from page 14 best practices as they “LinkedIn is probably the look to make the most of the social media environ- most effective at affecting ment together. our business.” Customers have been receptive to Office Interiors’ efforts and it has surpassed Mills’s expectations. “We have a 100% buy in from our sales team and although some are obviously more effective than others, everybody is trying,” he says. “And we’ve even had customers find us via LinkedIn through [existing] relationships, which is what LinkedIn is all about. It hasn’t been transformational for our business but it’s a pretty effective start from a social media perspective.”
ing customer testimonials as well.” The dealership is also playing around with Twitter and Mills’ in-house salesperson is sending out ‘Tweets’ on clearance items on a daily basis. “One of the challenges is that there are so many things you can be doing with social media on a whole bunch of different platforms,” says Mills. “What we decided to do is focus on a couple so we can learn and see what works and doesn’t work.”
Meanwhile Office Interiors is starting to dabble a bit with YouTube.
For Mills the bottom line with social networking is the potential to strengthen new and existing relationships.
“Some of our sales people are doing demos, uploading them to our website and to YouTube,” reports Mills. “We’re upload-
“Despite some of the crazy discounting that goes on in our industry, at the end of the
day relationships still count a lot,” he says. “If people can get linked in to the right relationships they’re going to be in a preferred position from a customer’s perspective. People will still buy from people they trust or from a referral of somebody they trust more readily than they’ll buy from a complete stranger.” Based on his title alone it’s a given that Tim McDonald, director of interactive media and eBusiness for Tangram Interiors in Santa Fe Springs, CA, understands the importance of social media. Tangram leverages all of them on a daily basis. “As we turned them on I went in head first and it’s grown since then,” says McDonald. For McDonald the most effective are LinkedIn and YouTube. “We strive to get everybody in the company on LinkedIn and use it to their benefit, escontinued on page 16
Cover continued from page 15 “If a picture is worth a pecially in our sales department,” he exthousand words, a video is plains. “We’ve had some great success worth a thousand pictures.” stories out of that.” McDonald has even found LinkedIn useful, having just hired a new member of his team whom he originally found on LinkedIn. “I scoured my network for someone with the right skill set who was looking for work and it turned into an interview. LinkedIn is probably the most effective at affecting our business.” Tangram is making the most of YouTube too. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand pictures,” says McDonald. “It’s helping us show the work we’ve done and get people excited about the company.”
at that level. Definitely there’s been a visible uptick in the amount of people although part of that can be attributed to the fact that we’re doing a better job of getting the word out or maybe people are embracing the technology on a regular basis.” Over the past year or so McDonald has learned a lesson or two about social media that’s worth sharing. “When you first start, you need to get a feel for the temperature. Some days I was posting to Twitter five-six times and they were just irrelevant. Now we don’t post unless it’s relevant.”
How quickly have customers and prospects embraced this social media revolution?
He says Tangram does a lot of re-Tweets and shares other people’s information that might be relevant to its followers.
“We did a customer insight video 18 months ago and that’s garnered about 2,000 hits,” reports McDonald. “And a video we posted 2-3 months ago is almost
Looking ahead, McDonald expects to see Tangram work more video into their social networking efforts. They also are planning
a website overhaul that will incorporate the links to the various social networking communities while making the content sharable. Another goal is to continue to get more people in Tangram’s network engaged in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and bring participation there up to the same level as LinkedIn. “We are looking to get them on Twitter and looking forward to getting more people to blog,” McDonald adds. “Even though that may not fall under social media I consider it social media because it’s another online community.” Social media is here to stay, at least for the forseeable future and its hard now to question the majority of dealers who are successfully using these tools to grow business. Scott Cullen has been writing about office technology and the office furniture industry since 1986.
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ProjectProfile: Protecting a Community and its Budget Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office By Alicia Ellis For cash-strapped local governments operating under increasingly tough budget pressures, justifying costs and finding new ways to save have become critical when it comes to new office furniture procurement. So when it came time to move the more than 150+ members of the District Attorney’s office in Arapahoe County, CO, to a new location, all eyes were on bottom dollar. The state-issued RFP called for new workstations, reception area and conference rooms but insisted on repurposing existing lounge/reception area furnishings and much of the task seating. The initial phase of the bid process weeded the field down to 23 potential furniture suppliers and after a walk-through, a panel of 12 judged the final proposals. Teammates Commercial Interiors, an $8 million Teknion dealer based in Lakewood, CO, edged out the competition by just half a point. “We had a really great proposal going into the judging,” said Mike Berkery, president of Teammates, who explained that to make their proposal stand out, the dealership converted its TeamDesign specs into an easy-to-read spreadsheet complete with colorful pictures of the proposed furnishings showing how the new furnishings would be integrated with existing pieces. “We felt like we could be competitive by putting together a proposal that reused and incorporated their pieces with ours to give them a great looking space and save a bunch of money,” said Berkery. “The proposal and a great recommendation from the architectural firm pushed us over the top.” continued on page 18
continued from page 17
With a guarantee not to exceed their budget, the award was given and Teammates set to work. According to Berkery, the biggest challenge was taking the clients existing furniture, making it work with the new, and still appear aesthetically pleasing.
All in all, Teammates installed 60 new Teknion Leverage series workstations, new reception area seating, outfitted a conference/multipurpose room with Egan visual boards that double as divider panels and utilized Teknion’s Altos Wall System to create a small private area for interviews in the main reception room.
“Topping the list of existing furniture were task chairs in six different colors and a big, shiny, brown vinyl couch that just didn’t seem to fit anywhere,” laughed Berkery. “Getting rid of them was not an option—we had to make it work. We even had the DA herself selecting finishes at one point.”
Installation took nine days and, while hampered somewhat by security precautions—for example, background checks on everyone involved with the project including the installation crew—Teammates came in under budget with a project that was well received by both the staff and the public.
A half dozen meetings later, the orders were placed and installation began. Teammates found cohesion by grouping like colors and/or providing accents in different departments.
And that big, brown couch? It found a home in front of the fireplace, snuggled among more contemporary furnishings in the breakroom.
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This Ain’t No Fairytale By Trish Brock
Once upon a time, there was an office furniture dealership in a mid-sized market. It had been in business under a few different ownerships for about 20 years.
They thrived on being different and creative in their approach to business and when they won a project away from the “established” dealers in town, there was a rush that lasted for days.
Early on as a new business, this dealership was the underdog when going after projects and competing against the big guns in its town.
Wanting to harness this energy and get more clarity about why they were winning, the dealer initiated some research. They asked clients, manufacturer reps, designers, competitively held accounts, and anyone else who would talk to them, why they had won or lost business. What made the difference?
This small dealer lost often but, bit by bit, and over time, it began to win more and often large projects.
And even though the dealer was still small, fairly unorganized and scrappy, they began to make a name for themselves in the community among prospective customers and their competition began to take notice. At that stage of the company’s growth, there was an energized climate within the dealership. Salespeople and designers alike felt empowered and motivated to pursue new business in a fearless way.
They believed once they figured out what their appeal was, they could do more of it ...whatever “it” was. While they learned that they had great products, that the salespeople and design staff were very good at their jobs and that the installation and delivery group were professional and competent, they recognized the same could be said for many of the other dealers in town. It was their enthusiasm, their scrappy attitude and the “can do” approach to winning business that set them apart.
There was little to lose and management was not only encouraging, but as involved in the “street fights” as everyone else. They had a shared vision and pulled together as a team.
They were fun. They played by their own rules and people wanted to be around them—including and most especially, new customers.
These folks just went after business and loved the thrill of the chase. There was internal competition, but even more importantly, there was a camaraderie that fueled their will to excel.
This dealer made existing and new customers feel important and a part of something. It was contagious.
They loved being irreverent, innovative, scrappy and smart. They saw no limits on how to approach new business, and were often out of the box and unconventional.
Over the years, business continued to grow and so did their reputation. They reorganized the structure of the dealership to support the selling process and to keep their sales people in front of their customers and not behind their desks. continued on page 20
Fairy Tale continued from page 19 The dealer became larger and smarter about their internal processes and purposefully nurtured a culture that set them apart from their competitors. It was the culture, they realized, that allowed them to attract and retain some very talented staff as well as happy and loyal clients. Their culture became their “brand” and their marketing strategy and materials were developed to support this differentiating attribute. They promoted this shamelessly. As a company, they were very self aware and built on it to further differentiate themselves. Everyone in the dealership knew what they were a part of and became “brand champions.” And they had the sales support materials and promotional mentality to further their cause. The dealership enjoyed explosive growth and became one of the top two dealers in their market, a position they held for a number of years. They were getting national recognition and other dealers were trying to duplicate their success. Competitors looked at the internal processes, the low error rate, profiled the qualities of a successful salesperson, the higher margins, etc—all the standard benchmarks, and certainly all important. But what they failed to see and understand was that it was the culture and the resulting brand within the dealership that drove the success. That was the most important thing of all. They failed to understand that purpose and values are not created. They already exist within an organization and when they have relevance and meaning for everyone within, the company flourishes. It was the culture that propelled the success of the salespeople and the creativity of the design staff. Other dealers could not hope to emulate a dealership that “owned” a culture and felt empowered by it. It was a culture of winning and fun and without that culture, the great processes wouldn’t have made a difference. The brand and the supporting sales materials were all a result of a cultivated, then defined and developed culture. The dealer was living its brand, and the materials reflected it in its entirety. They were truly authentic and customers knew it, and were attracted to it. But, as we all know, not all fairy tales have a happy ending. Fast forward. The dealership that had it all, that was on top and couldn’t be stopped, has now been bought and sold several times. With each transaction, the buyer bought a name, a reputation and a heritage of sorts. But with each transaction, the essence
of the company was compromised. Each new owner failed to recognize what they were truly buying and because of that, the culture that once drove success and made the dealer unique eroded. The new owners failed to embrace and nurture the value of a culture and the value of people who make up that culture. People soon felt disconnected from the company. Good people left, new people came but without the benefit of understanding the legacy of winning and things changed quickly. The dealership went from “can do” to “can’t because…” This dealership still has the same name, is in the same location, represents the same manufacturer and sadly, still tells the same story when pitching new business, but now with little credibility. It’s a fraction of the size it once was, long ago lost its top of the list status, and word on the street is that it is “no longer a contender.” A few of the original people remain, but there is a distinct “tiredness” about the whole operation. Many suffering dealerships will attribute their losses to the weak economy. And while there is no doubt that the economy is in play, what they are failing to realize is that the culture of their company has direct impact on performance, relevance and productivity. Not to mention how prospective customers perceive them. The economy is bad for everyone, including the dealer who understands the importance of creating an atmosphere of “make it happen” for the people who are giving it their all to do so. They are the ones surviving and even thriving in this economy. In bad times or good times, this business of culture and marketing it to your customers cannot be left to chance. It is something that needs continued nurturing and constant attention. It requires a leadership which understands that you can’t tell people how to feel and what to value. But when there are shared values and a vision among all the people within an organization, it creates a powerful collective force. Leading by example. Successful dealers will generate an optimistic outlook, a “can do” attitude, and a marketing strategy with supporting messaging and materials that will all combine to take them where the clinical doom and gloom, blame and shame types will never go. And that is what will differentiate you and propel you in this challenging market. As with most fairy tales, regardless of whether the outcome is continued on page 21
Fairy Tale continued from page 20 good or bad, there’s a lesson to be learned. This story is not unique or unfamiliar. In many cities there are dealers who were once the leaders and enjoyed great success, and love telling stories from the old days. A favorite and telling quote, “The older I get, the better I was,” often applies. As we begin 2012, consider the value of the talent within your dealership. What are you doing to empower them and harness their attributes and will to succeed?
ŽŶ͛ƚ&ŽƌŐĞƚƚŽZĞŶĞǁzŽƵƌDĞŵďĞƌƐŚŝƉ tŚĞŶǇŽƵũŽŝŶK&͕ǇŽƵΖƌĞŶŽƚũƵƐƚũŽŝŶŝŶŐĂŶĂƐƐŽĐŝĂƟŽŶ͖ ǇŽƵΖƌĞũŽŝŶŝŶŐĂƉƌŽĨĞƐƐŝŽŶĂůĐŽŵŵƵŶŝƚǇŽĨŽĸĐĞĨƵƌŶŝƚƵƌĞ ĚĞĂůĞƌƐ͕ƚŚĞŝƌŬĞǇƐĂůĞƐ͕ŵĂƌŬĞƟŶŐĂŶĚŽƉĞƌĂƟŽŶƐŵĂŶĂŐĞƌƐ͕ ĂŶĚďƵƐŝŶĞƐƐƉĂƌƚŶĞƌƐĨƌŽŵĂĐƌŽƐƐEŽƌƚŚŵĞƌŝĐĂ͘ K&ƐƵƉƉŽƌƚƐǇŽƵƌĚĞĂůĞƌƐŚŝƉ͛ƐƐƵĐĐĞƐƐƚŚƌŽƵŐŚ͗
Enable them to participate fully in helping to build a collective vision and equip them with the support they need. Embracing the talent that exists within and building upon it might be the best gift your dealership could receive for the New Year! Trish Brock, Principal of Trish Brock & Associates, is a well-known industry consultant. Her cross functional consulting group specializes in increasing sales through effective differentiating brands and materials that support the strategic sales process. TB+A also conducts Mentoring Circles for groups wanting to accelerate new business development. She can be reached at 720-747-5547, via email at email@example.com or visit her on the web at www.trishbrockassociates.com
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