Izzydesign To Acquire Jami Inc. Furniture Brands

May 5, 2008
| By Pete Daly |
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SPRING LAKE — Izzydesign and its parent company JSJ Corp. have signed a letter of intent to purchase Jami Inc., a holding company in Overland Park, Kan., that owns plants producing four brands of furniture in Florence, Ala., and Middlebury, Ind., with a total of about 400 employees.

The acquisition would approximately triple the izzydesign work force.

"Part of our business model philosophy is the concept of having manufacturing sites of excellence that can support the needs of multiple brands," said izzydesign founder and president Chuck Saylor.

Jami brands include Harter conference and executive seating and tables; Fixtures Furniture stack seating and multi-purpose tables for education, health care and corporate spaces; Zoom Seating, which makes mid-market ergonomic task seating; and ABCO Office Furniture, which includes modular furniture, computer furniture, and conference and training tables.

Each of the four Jami brands has its own market niche, according to Saylor, and will continue to pursue its independent brand position, working with izzydesign to leverage its strength in its market segment.

The transaction is expected to close in May, pending completion of due diligence and execution of documents.

“We see this transaction with izzy and JSJ as a positive partnership,” said Gregg Masenthin, president and chief executive officer of Jami Inc. “Our brands have been extremely successful in the marketplace, so our new relationship with izzy and JSJ allows us the strategic business support to continue growing and developing these brands.”

“Since the launch of izzy, we have cultivated a business model that lets successful brands thrive and grow around organizations with people who have the energy and vision to develop them for the future," said Saylor. "Like our strategic partnerships with HÅG and Nemschoff, this transaction will reinforce our strategy — to be a brand-driven business. We do not intend to change what is already working well."

Saylor noted that like Jami, izzydesign also has two manufacturing locations producing products for a variety of brands. Izzydesign casegoods and furniture products are made in Spring Lake, and seating is made mainly in Belton, Texas.

Izzydesign, founded in 2001, produces what it describes as "simple, affordable furniture and seating design with advanced engineering and lean manufacturing capabilities." Brands include izzycollections, izzyseating, HÅG by izzy, SuperiorSeating by izzy, and izzytextiles and finishes. All of its furniture and seating product lines are Greenguard certified to meet safe indoor air quality standards.

Saylor said that although izzydesign does some OEM production in Spring Lake for other furniture companies, most of its work is production of its own brands sold through contract office furniture dealers throughout North America. And, Saylor said, while some components are sourced from Europe and Asia, "all the designs and the final production, assembly and distribution are done here in the U.S."

Nelson Jacobson, president and CEO of JSJ Corp., said the JSJ role "is to provide financial and strategic leadership, and essential support resources to help our businesses like izzy do what they do best."

JSJ Corp., based in Grand Haven, designs, develops, markets and brands durable goods and services throughout the world.

Izzydesign — the name is derived from the nickname of one of Saylor's granddaughters — was founded in the summer of 2001 just months before the office furniture industry went into a serious decline for several years.

"Like everyone, we're working extremely hard at controlling our material costs," said Saylor. "Material costs are rising exponentially on a global basis and that’s probably one of the biggest challenges that any of us in business have today. It's happening worldwide."

"The other worldwide phenomenon is the marketplace placing more emphasis on brands and design, and that’s where we are spending a lot of our energy. This potential acquisition reinforces our emphasis on finding brands that are best of class in their particular segment of the marketplace."

The escalating cost of energy on a global basis is "one more critical factor that restructures our economy for the future. It's going to make us think differently about manufacturing location, because of the cost of shipment. It's going to level out the world economy more and more, over time, so that the cost advantage of sourcing from different parts of the world will be less attractive over time," Saylor said.

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