Bianchi Assumes Haworth COO Role

August 30, 2004
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HOLLAND — The naming of a new chief operating officer for North America follows Haworth Inc.’s evolving global strategy that includes becoming more than a maker of office furnishings.

Franco Bianchi will oversee all of Haworth’s North American operations, answering directly to Chief Executive Officer and President Robert Krasa.

The move frees Krasa from many day-to-day duties of managing North American operations to focus more on overall strategic and global issues, particularly an ailing European market, and spread his time across all four of Haworth’s business sectors that include North America, Europe, Asia and mid-markets.

“Bob will have the ability to broad-stroke the entire business and concentrate on our global capabilities,” Haworth spokesman Rob Everse said.

Bianchi, a 12-year veteran executive of Haworth, fills the position once held by Krasa, who served as president of Haworth North America prior to his appointment as CEO last year when former chief executive Gerald Johanesson retired.

Bianchi previously served as Haworth’s global vice president of product line management and marketing, overseeing market research, product design and development, and worldwide marketing, finance and purchasing. He joined Haworth in 1992 and has held a number of executive positions, including general manager of Haworth Italy and vice president for finance for Haworth North America.

As COO in North America, Bianchi will head the corporation’s largest division that includes two recent acquisitions, SMED International and InterfaceAR, which produce office architectural components such as raised flooring and movable walls.

Haworth, which recorded 2003 sales of $1.23 billion, is using the acquisitions as the foundation for an ongoing restructuring that, as Krasa has described, is transforming the company from a producer of workstations to a maker of work places that provides much more than just office furnishings.

The corporation earlier this year combined SMED and InterfaceAR into a single business unit to form Haworth North America, uniting products from both companies and from Haworth into a single brand.

“Our strategies for global and sector growth are well developed,” Krasa said. “Now our thrust is to execute them in a rapid and effective manner.”    

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