Upwardly Mobile Line Wins Silver

June 18, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — In introducing its new adjustable office system to market, Hekman Furniture Co. won a Neocon silver award with wood case goods having the same kind of adjustments common for years in many office chairs.

Every component in Hekman Furniture’s SmartMoves system is height-adjustable in a 6-inch range, from 26 inches to 32 inches, via a leg mechanism.

SmartMoves’ Silver Award came in the Workplace Technologies category in the 2004 Best of NeoCon design competition.

Hekman Furniture — a unit of Zeeland-based Howard Miller Clock Co. — introduced SmartMoves last week at NeoCon.

By making the system easily adaptable to peoples’ varying physical sizes, Hekman Furniture says it wanted to complement and build on the ergonomics readily available in office seating.

“We come in all shapes and sizes,” said Doug Hill, vice president of sales and marketing for Grand Rapids-based Hekman Furniture.

“So we looked at it and said, ‘What if we could make the desk adjust? Then we could accommodate the chair and the worker in a positive way.’

“That’s an opportunity we see as expanding and an area we think we can compete in,” Hill said.

Hekman is targeting the office system at high-end users. Hill said it is primarily for use in private offices, a market segment where Hekman Furniture has traditionally done well.

The new Hekman system also comes in schemes that are suitable for team settings and reception areas, he added.

SmartMoves is the work of Tom Newhouse, a well-known industry designer. The manufacturer is Hekman Contract, a division of Hekman Furniture.

The new line represents the first move into the systems furniture market for Hekman Furniture, which traditionally makes residential and home office furnishings and desks.

It gives Hekman Furniture a new casegoods product line that should appeal to the market niche the company has traditionally served, he said.

“It really is a step up,” Hill said. “We’re very optimistic.”

Hill said the inspiration for the system emerged as executives at Hekman Furniture conferred with Howard Miller Clock Co. executives.

Howard Miller produces grandfather and mantle clocks and curio cabinets but has been looking with Hekman executives at new market opportunities.

The two sets of officials said they saw a potential in a high-end wood office system that blends style and design with the function and ergonomic benefits of fully adjustable furniture.               

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