Haworth Breaks 2B In Sales During 2000

May 15, 2002
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HOLLAND – Haworth Inc. became a $2 billion corporation in 2000, as sales grew 32 percent on the back of two acquisitions and a healthy rebound in the office furniture industry.

The Holland-based Haworth recorded $2.06 billion in sales last year, about $500 million more than the year before. The increase was split evenly between strong internal sales growth and revenue picked up through the acquisition of two Canadian firms, SMED International and Group Lacasse, early last year, CEO Jerry Johanneson said.

The 52-year-old company broke the $2 billion figure just six years after surpassing $1 billion in sales.

“We had a very good year,” Johanneson said.

The privately held Haworth traditionally announces annual sales figures. The company, however, does not report earnings.

The strong year came after a 1999 that saw Haworth’s sales flatten with the rest of the office furniture industry, as corporations diverted their capital spending to dealing with the Y2K computer bug. Sales rebounded well in 2000, with industry growth expected to reach 9 percent when the final tally is reported early next month, according the industry trade group BIFMA International.

Johanneson is optimistic Haworth can continue its momentum through 2001, even as the U.S. economy slows. As he had in past years, Johanneson targets a 10 percent growth rate for sales in 2001.

“I’m positive on what we could do. We’re on a good roll,” Johanneson said. “We have a lot of things going for us.”

Among the positives is a good reception of the new office system “if” and the integration of modular office walls produced by SMED International with Haworth’s product lines. The SMED acquisition, Johanneson said, has enabled Haworth to become more involved at an earlier point in working with customers to design and set up their office space.

The SMED acquisition “has been everything we expected it to be.”

“It’s taken us to an area we haven’t been before,” Johanneson said.

Last year also saw Haworth make one of the largest investments ever in its West Michigan facilities – $50 million for expansions and new equipment – and an easing of pricing pressures that beset the industry during the slowdown of 1999. As sales rebounded and gained momentum during the year, customers were unable to squeeze discounts out of office furniture makers as they did in 1999.

Pricing pressures, however, do remain to a lesser degree, with Haworth and others unable to pass along the rising cost of doing business, Johanneson said. The same goes for the company’s suppliers, he said.

“We’re always fighting price increases,” Johanneson said.    

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