If you are heading to this year’s Courtroom Technology Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, held from September 12-14, be sure to stop by Marshall Furniture’s booth, #608, to view some fantastic courtroom tech pieces. As a custom shop, we … Continue reading
In today’s spaces, the task of effortlessly corralling the now ubiquitous equipment rack has become somewhat complicated. Occasionally, the solution is a simple if unappealing one: leave it in the corner of the room. The result? A high-end space with a frame of switchers, amplifiers and media players spewing out heat and cables from every direction. Rather than leave the rack system bare, or hide it in a closet somewhere, consider dressing it up within a properly ventilated and attractive furniture solution. Marshall Furniture offers many inexpensive, high quality rack systems for your individual needs. Each model includes several standard features with room for a variety of options to personalize and blend your piece into a space.
ELCO™ Mobile Rack Cabinets
The most obvious approach is to utilize one of our Quick Ship rack cabinets. These pieces are available in three sizes and come with a surface grommet, pocket locking door, fixed rack rail, locking rear access panel, floor hole for cable pass, floor vent, notched toe for air intake and 4″ locking swivel carpet casters. From there, surface cut outs, side drop leaf shelves, internal/external fans and a vented door can be specified. These pieces are also available in any of our 13 stock melamine colors and ship fully assembled within 30 days.
For a dual-purpose solution, consider specifying one of our Quick Ship credenzas. These pieces not only come standard in two rack sizes with dual bays but can double as a monitor cabinet. Choose from 13 or 17 rack units and any of our 13 stock melamine colors to personalize your piece. Standard with every ELCO™ credenza are surface grommets, standard locking doors, locking rear access panel, floor holes for cable pass, floor ventilation, notched toe for air intake and 4″ locking swivel carpet casters. The lead time is 30 days for build. You can also customize internal configuration by swapping out the rack for shelving instead. Internal and external ventilation options can be added and you can specify extra exit cable holes for no extra charge.
SCM™ Rack Carts
If you need a mobile solution to house your technology, specify one of our SCM™ rack carts. We have two models available in any of our 13 stock melamine colors. Both come with a 10-year warranty and ship fully assembled. Available features include a stock black laminate work surface for durability, surface grommet, black t-mold edges, locking pocket door, fixed rack, locking rear access panel, floor hole for cable passage, floor ventilation and exposed locking multi-surface swivel casters. One cart is simply for full rack storage while the other includes a small pocket for a resident CPU and hand notches on the surface for easy maneuverability. An optional monitor stand can be specified on the surface to transform this piece from a simple rack cabinet to an information display solution. Additional ventilation, laminate surface options and cabinet configurations are possible. Lead time is 30 days.
ELCO™ Wall Rack Cabinets
This furniture option takes up less room space and is ideal for projects that require very little racked equipment. Standard features include 1-6 slide out vertical hanging rack units, large back notch for wiring and cable passage to wall outlet(s), surface and floor grommets for cable passage, locking removable front panel with exhaust vent slots and wall attachment cleats. Wall cabinets can be specified in any of our 13 stock melamine colors. The slide out rack makes servicing the unit easy. 30-day ship and 10-year warranty included. Specify additional exit cable cut outs or ventilation options as needed.
ELCO™ Rack Boxes
Easily dress up your rack system using one of our ELCO™ Rack Boxes. They can be specified in any of our 13 stock melamine colors to complement existing or new room furniture. Three sizes are available: 10 RU, 14 RU or 16 RU. Boxes are ventilated on all 4 sides and are open in the front and back for cable passage and additional air flow. A 10-year warranty is included.
Providing custom furniture solutions for seamless technology integration has always been our goal. The framework for our rack enclosure solutions is to ensure equipment is discreetly hidden while being easily accessible and properly ventilated. Our Quick Ship rack systems provide just that coupled with a lower cost point, faster lead time and a handful of customization options. To prevent eyesores in your next space, consider one of our budget-friendly cabinets or carts to safely and stylishly store your AV components.
During the month of April, we at Marshall Furniture decided to hone our focus on all things architectural. Although we focus a lot on our products’ ability to accommodate a wide range of technology, we also strive to make sure each build is a beautiful, one-of-a-kind piece. Even our Quick Ship line, developed as a low-cost alternative to our custom builds, elicits a high-quality feel. During the last thirty plus years of business, our furniture has evolved partly in response to customer, consultant and architect/designer feedback. As a whole, architects and interior designers in particular play an important role in the aesthetics of the custom furniture process. They have experience with what design elements work and are constantly keeping up with the latest design trends. Their ability to translate customer ideas into an architectural illustration acts as a concise framework for a furniture vendor.
Trends change, as we all know, and it’s a designer’s job to keep up with these trends. From the latest sustainable resources to what traditional aspects retain the most value year after year, designers are tasked with consistently updating their knowledge. So, regardless of whether a project needs a modern redesign or a unique incorporation of existing room architecture into a furniture build, a lot of insight can be gained from architects and interior design companies.
In addition to specifying hardware to match your piece, locks to keep your items secure and inlays to accent the surrounding space, the material is another important aspect of an architect’s job. Recently, many spaces are pressing for sustainable resources throughout their project builds. Ensuring that the wood materials are properly sourced has become just as important as picking between brass or chrome knobs. This focus on responsible forestry is grounded not only in moral concerns but also as an incentive for tax breaks on the customer’s behalf.
Architects will specify specific materials, suppliers or offer a range of suggestions to the furniture vendor to ensure the customer’s piece is utilizing environmentally friendly sources. When it comes to veneer specifically, designers may ask that it be FSC certified. FSC stands for the Forest Stewardship Council, an organization that promotes responsible forestry and offers transparency of the supply process through services like chain of custody. Companies, like Marshall Furniture, who hold certification with FSC would then bring in the properly-sourced material to complete the project. Adding this extra layer of insight to a design build propels a customer’s space into the highly popular realm of “green” living.
As a whole, investing in a professional design team provides a multitude of benefits for both clients and furniture vendors. An architect or interior designer can contribute supplementary design knowledge previously unconsidered by a user. This may move the design forward into a new realm or amplify the existing ideas on the table. For a vendor, this detailed information is a convenient starting point as it allows for a quicker design process and prevents misunderstandings between customer and vendor concerning design concept. Also, since architects and designers often work in-depth with the client to develop their vision, a part of their responsibility includes mediating and interpreting customer/vendor concerns. Their knowledgeable background in construction, materials and design allow them to easily translate the vendor’s questions or construction suggestions to the client.
Whether a project requires a small furniture build or a complete building re-configuration, an architectural firm or interior design company can offer clients valuable knowledge to complete their project successfully. Their presence provides custom furniture suppliers with a clear and concise communication of the customer’s vision, easing the design process on both ends.
Every January, our team at Marshall Furniture looks for new ways to continue our success and growth throughout the new year. To do this, we often look back at the previous year to evaluate our accomplishments and to determine our upcoming product and marketing focuses. Looking back at 2016, however, had a two-fold purpose for us. Last year, we were lucky enough to celebrate our 30th year in business. We celebrated in a variety of ways, like giveaways and prizes, but also by showing off our high-quality custom craftsmanship skills at trade shows like Infocomm. What we discovered when we discussed last year’s sales was that 2016 was filled with a variety of interesting and creative projects. Our design team each had their favorites so we felt it was only appropriate that we give those designs the attention they deserve. With 2016 still fresh in our minds, we’d like to take the opportunity to share, in detail, aspects of our most memorable projects.
Customer: (university name withheld)
Dealer: (dealer name withheld)
Product: MLP-39.125 ADA Lectern
MFI Sales Engineer: Joyce Nemenyi
A private, ivy-league university contacted Marshall Furniture looking for a lectern that could accommodate users with disabilities and fit a large amount of racked equipment. After discussing possible options with Joyce Nemenyi, she suggested that they implement height adjust and a pullout surface into their piece as these would incorporate elements essential to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, to create a compact, fully-racked unit, a full standard-width bay of rack was coupled with a half-bay of vertical rack to save space.
“After several revisions, it came to light that the customer did not have enough room for a pullout surface. This created an issue as this option is essential for ADA compatibility since it allows seated presenters equal access to equipment, incorporates proper reach ranges and allows for adequate knee space,” explains Joyce. “It became necessary to re-evaluate our traditional ADA lectern design.” Several alternatives were presented to the client but ultimately, they settled on a re-engineered design that allowed the surface to articulate to the side rather than forward. “This new design forced us to really flex our creative design muscles. Rather than focusing on drafting a lectern for a seated user, we were now contending with space issues. We really had to re-think the way we approached our traditional ADA lectern layout,” she says.
It was at this point that another ADA issue presented itself. The customer raised concerns that several users with limited hand mobility may have trouble properly grasping or pulling the t-handle that unlocks the pullout surface. Therefore, it was decided that the surface should be put on a linear actuator instead. This was controlled by a rocker switch, which allowed users to simply lean their hand or am against part of the switch to activate the pullout surface. “It’s typical, in our design process, for changes like this to come up. We often have to think on our toes since customization is the name of the game,” says Joyce. “Coming up with a solution to this particular customer concern required us to really put our heads together but ultimately, the alterations to the standard layout worked out fantastically.”
Customer: Calhoun Community College
Dealer: Howard Technology Solutions
Product: SCM-240 and SCM-640 Desks
MFI Sales Engineer: Matt Wulfekuhle
During early summer 2016, Calhoun Community College was working on a 30 classroom build for a new facility. It was during this time that Tyler Johnson, Classroom Technology Integration Specialist from CCC, got in touch with our Sales Engineer, Matt Wulfekuhle, after a direct recommendation from Kelly Turner at Howard Technology Solutions. CCC had a timeline for their furniture build-out that had to be met before classes could begin. In addition, the school was interested in laser-burned logos for each of their 30 pieces, which presented another challenge. “Although [their] design was simplistic, pulling off 30 laser engraved panels within a couple [of] weeks was interesting. It was long hours and required the aid of all involved, but seeing them put together made it all worth it,” says Matt.
Each desk was specified to include racked equipment, cable passage and touch panels for room control. Each style of desk was based on products originally from our Quick Ship line: the SCM-240 and SCM-640. Both finished desks were customized to the school’s direct needs and the set-up of each room.
As August began, the desks were split into two shipments in order to meet CCC’s deadline and Howard Technology Solutions time-frame for equipment integration. On handling a project such as this, Matt says, “This project was my first experience with a large order that required some design savvy. Attempting to fit all of the needed components and adhere to our Quick Ship designs presented a challenge, but with great patience and even greater colleagues, we were able to pull off the AV furniture requirements.”
After each desk found its home, the remainder of the room build was completed and the classrooms set-up for use by the time classes started. “The desks turned out beautifully; I have heard many great comments on them,” says Tyler Johnson. “It was a great experience working with Howard and Calhoun to make this project happen,” says Matt.
Customer: School of Music (university name withheld)
Dealer: All Pro Sound
Consultant: Jaffe Holden
Product: Various Studio Furniture
MFI Sales Engineer: Ariel Blaha
After their School of Music was destroyed by flooding in 2008, the school sought to furnish (5) of the re-built control rooms and production offices in 2013. Consultant Jaffee Holden prepared bid documents that called out for different L-shaped configurations to support rack equipment and mixing boards. Sales Engineer, Ariel Blaha, worked on interpreting the university’s needs and the consultant’s design.
Since the building consisted of entirely new construction, production of the furniture did not begin until May 2016. The three-year span during which bids were presented, prepared, won and ultimately designed with Marshall Furniture called for attentiveness to detail and flexibility in design around the integrated technology. “Tailoring the designs to meet the different studio requirements presented a fun challenge. Coordinating the details on projects of this nature is an important step to assure things turn out as planned. A lot can change when it comes to AV equipment over a period of 3 years!” says Ariel.
Each of the (5) pieces were designed around each room’s equipment requirements and the available space. For example, some of the units had rack in the cabinet bodies while others had patch racks on the work surface. Some had both configurations. All of the furniture pieces were designed and built with a solid wood edge profile to match the edge of the mixer, which created a fully custom and integrated appearance. Ben Bausher, Senior Consultant at Jaffee Holden, says he was particularly pleased with the design process saying, “I definitely appreciate your team’s willingness to work with the rest of the design team and contractors…The users were very pleased with the build quality of the furniture.”
Customer: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Dealer: GL Seaman & Company
Product: MLP-34 & MLCS-32 Lecterns
MFI Sales Engineer: Joyce Nemenyi
This project began when Marshall Furniture’s Sales Engineer, Joyce Nemenyi, received architectural specifications from the customer for several high-end, AV-heavy contemporary lecterns. The customer wanted to incorporate options such as height adjust, internal storage, a recessed LCD, microphone, light, clock timer, power outlets and several grommets for cable passage while maintaining a sleek overall style to the body of the pieces. “FRB of Dallas was very set on creating a modern feel for their podiums. They wanted to ensure that the pieces were not only functional, but visually appealing,” says Joyce. Part of that stylistic vision was an interest in incorporating a two-tone finish, which was ultimately accomplished by utilizing two different veneers, Cherry and Walnut, custom matched to two Wilsonart laminate finishes.
“Every aspect of the lecterns were dissected, discussed and designed to ensure a completely unique architectural piece, right down the finish and metal of the locks and pulls,” Joyce explains. In addition, Marshall Furniture made accommodation for a logo that the customer indicated they would like to order and adhere at a later time. To allow easy installation in the field, small, pre-drilled holes were included on the face of the lecterns in anticipation of a 12″ metal medallion. Hidden hardware was included so that the user could easily secure the logo pins with wing nuts from the inside of the front panel. This method of attachment created a more seamless look.
Because the lecterns were meant to be minimalistic in size, the customer raised concerns over the amount of usable surface space during the design phase. “To create room for user laptops or paperwork, we manufactured a hinged panel to cover the recessed LCD monitor when it was not in use,” says Joyce. The panel was finished in the same manner as the rest of the work surface to create uniformity whenever the monitor was covered. “I was very glad to have been given a chance to work with the customer. I feel like we were able to successfully implement all their stylistic and equipment needs.”
Customer: DGSOM at UCLA – Geffen Hall, Teaching Lab
Product: VST-40 x 60 x 90 Tables
MFI Sales Engineer: Ariel Blaha
Marshall Furniture had the privilege of providing a variety of furniture for UCLA’s new Geffen Hall Medical Education Building. Our Sales Engineer, Ariel Blaha, was contacted to facilitate a design for several tapered collaboration tables for a flipped classroom teaching space in their Teaching Lab. “The layout of the space and the concept of such a large scale collaborative classroom was intriguing to me from the day the customer brought the project to us to fashion a design,” says Ariel.
On the work surface of each table, dual monitors were specified to allow the instructor to display content on one screen while students’ content was channeled to the second. “The school’s design originally included monitor lift cabinets at the head of each table that would have concealed the displays when not in use. As the project developed, this option was replaced with the stationary monitors which simplified things quite a bit,” says Ariel. As a way to keep sight lines clear within the room, especially due to the surface-mounted monitors, some tables were made at standard height while others were fashioned at bar height. Specifically, students seated in the center of the room sat lower than those around the perimeter of the space.
AMX boxes were integrated by AVI-SPL to provide the collaborative connectivity. Custom speakers manufactured by Brown Innovations were installed in the table edge to create a personal sound zone for each student. Below, a credenza base was implemented to provide ample storage space for the rack, whose components ran the entire set-up. As for stylistic elements, Ariel states, “The finish combination selected by the architect resulted in a very linear, modern feel to the tables.”
After being delivered and set-up within the teaching space, the room presented a high-end collaborative learning environment. “Working with Ariel Blaha and the Marshall Furniture team is always a pleasure,” says Neil Bornn-Gilman, Manager of Audiovisual Services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “The design process for these pieces lasted many months, with numerous updates and modifications as the overall system designs evolved,” he says. “The success of the end-product was a direct result of communication and teamwork between the university and Marshall Furniture,” Neil explains. “This sort of truly collaborative design process, along with Marshall’s deep understanding of what it takes to make furniture that can adequately accommodate the power, ventilation, cable pathway and other equipment needs of today’s cutting edge AV systems makes Marshall my preferred custom AV furniture vendor.”
Customer: (college name withheld)
Dealer: (dealer name withheld)
Product: Custom ELCO ADA Workstation
MFI Sales Engineer: Michelle Wille
Over the course of 2-years, Michelle Wille worked one-on-one with a community college to develop a model suited to their specific AV and ADA needs. After many design revisions and a slurry of collaboration efforts, the customer’s standard design became a reality. The equipment inside the piece consisted of 18 spaces of rack equipment, an Extron Cable Cubby 700 with six Retractors and adequate wheelchair space. “Although accommodating for AV equipment is a standard aspect of our design work, finding space to house the cable box and Retractors alongside our ADA options was tricky,” says Michelle. “After multiple discussions, we were able to effectively fit this equipment in an angled wedge on the top surface, which did not impede on the pullout work surface or equipment below.”
In order to maintain all ADA aspects of the custom workstation, the Cable Cubby, touch panel and monitors were each positioned at a distance that met proper reach ranges. In addition, the pullout surface option had to be designed to meet height, width and depth guidelines for wheelchair users. Ensuring that the rack equipment within the piece fit properly and did not complicate any of these ADA aspects was also imperative.
In the end, the customer’s piece was stylish, compact and technology-rich with the ability to adapt to their learning space. “The college was not looking for something off-the-shelf,” explains Michelle. “Our willingness and ability to engineer a custom design in-house allowed all of their factors to seamlessly come together. Collectively, we created a hybrid piece that will hopefully become a staple on their campus.”
Customer: (university name withheld)
Dealer: (dealer name withheld)
Product: MDW-106.375 Desk
MFI Sales Engineer: Joyce Nemenyi
A long-time customer of Marshall Furniture contacted Joyce Nemenyi as they were in need of an update to their traditional angled desk/lectern hybrid design. The customer specified a few changes to the equipment cut outs and overall lectern size but the usual components in the piece, like racked equipment, monitor arms and cable pass, stayed the same. All the options were encompassed in a L-shaped design in which the lectern was double-wide for a one-person desk to sit perpendicular to it. “At first, it seemed like the project was going to be a straightforward build similar to what we have seen in the past with this customer. It was only once we were in the final approval stages that the furniture design did a complete 180,” explains Joyce.
The customer discovered that their traditional angled desk build would not work in the space that they were trying to fill. “The room was set-up differently and it would not have fit or allowed users to interact with the piece correctly,” says Joyce. After some internal discussions, the customer opted to angle small desks on either side of a lectern located in the middle to create a 3-piece wedge-shaped ensemble that still allowed integration of a storage rack and monitor arms. The entire unit was designed with cable pass and ease of access throughout. The legs had large cut outs and the lectern had notches on the outside panels and the interior partitions.
Of the project overall, Joyce had to say this: “I think this new furniture design was a successful alternative that nicely complemented the customer’s space and technology needs. I’m glad we were able to accommodate the university’s design change at the last second to create a beautiful, high-end desk for their faculty.”
Customer: Providence College
Dealer: HB Communications
Product: MRP-40 Lectern
MFI Sales Engineer: Tom Feldkamp
Tom Feldkamp was contacted by Mike Bohan at HB Communications early in the summer. Mike had spoken with Providence College and had recently attended Infocomm 2016 where he had seen Marshall Furniture’s booth. He explained that he was very impressed with our work and wanted to specify our product for Providence’s president, who was looking for a high-end lectern. The customer specifically wanted to have height adjust and mobility, since it was going to be used in multiple venues where the president of the college would be speaking.
During the initial design phase, Marshall’s MLP-36 lectern was proposed. After many conference calls, the piece was ultimately changed to our highly-ornate and traditional Raised Panel style. The finished lectern called for height adjust, flush reading lights, dual microphones, a clock timer power, adjustable shelves for equipment storage and cable pass from the left and right sides. Aesthetically, the customer and Tom came up with a very original design that implemented a laser burn of the Providence College torches on the top sides of the lectern, solid wood profiles throughout and notched flutes on the corners. The audience side was shipped with two access panels, both with different laser burned logos of the school’s insignia.
“PC [Providence College] had some specific needs,” says HB Communications. “We went through a few revisions and tweaks very smoothly with a conf[erence] call each time. I think making the client part of those conversations was key, instead of my interpretations or probably a missed detail.” Because of the open communication that took place between all parties, small details, including the artwork bearing aspects of the school’s image, were able to be implanted into the final design. After the piece shipped, the school reached out to say that they were very happy with the end result.
Customer: University of South Carolina Law
Dealer: Clark Powell
Product: MLP-36 Lecterns
MFI Sales Engineer: Ariel Blaha
For over 10 years, Marshall Furniture has been working with and providing Integration-Friendly® furniture for the University of South Carolina. USC’s School of Law needed a lectern that was a variation of their standardized design and worked with Sales Engineer, Ariel Blaha, to set their plans into motion. To start, Marshall Furniture provided the school with a prototype so that they could physically review all design aspects prior to purchasing the 20 pieces they needed for their upcoming space. The prototype also allowed USC’s faculty the opportunity to review available furniture options and request tweaks to the design for their sake before the project hit the production floor. “Working with the group at USC is always a great experience! In this case, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to fly in and meet with everyone to discuss the design,” says Ariel.
The finished piece incorporated dual flip up shelves to create an immense work surface, programmable height adjust and space for 12 RU of equipment. Both levelers and casters were installed with a non-standard caster clearance to create the ability to extend the levelers and lift the cabinet off of its wheels once it was in place. Each lectern had the School of Law logo etched onto the front. Three custom color matches were provided from control samples supplied by the architect. 18 lecterns were finished in one color and the other two in different matches.
“Although there were some last-minute adjustments, the overall design came together at the very end, ” Ariel explains. “The functionality of the design offers adjustment to the users based on their work surface layout and height preferences.” Marshall Furniture was delighted to be able to provide a long-time customer, USC, with a design that met every aspect of their needs.
Marshall Furniture was able to be a part of so many fantastic, original and interesting design projects last year, these being only a select few of our team’s favorites. We are honored to be entering our 31st year in business and know that none of our successes are possible without our dedicated dealers and customers. We are anxious and excited for the fun and creative designs that await us and look forward to working with you and your team. Contact us today if you’d like to share your designs or would like more information to complete your upcoming project.
Kiosks, Monitor Stands, Video Carts. Although these broad terms conjure different images for different people, they all link back to one general purpose: to display information, through images, video or direct interaction, to a specific audience. Regardless of the product … Continue reading
By: Michelle Wille VP of Sales & Marketing At the start of 2016, Marshall Furniture celebrated 30 years in business. While the celebration of our anniversary lasted all year long through giveaways and prizes, we wanted to share our excitement … Continue reading
An exciting change is coming to Marshall Furniture. We would like to announce that Tom Feldkamp, previously our Sales Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. As one of our longest-held employees, Tom has been an extremely important … Continue reading
Marshall Furniture would like to announce a position change for one of our long-established employees: Ariel Blaha. As of this year, Ariel has been promoted from Sales Engineer to Sales Manager after 10 years of work with the company. We … Continue reading
Marshall Furniture would like to take a moment to formally introduce our new Sales and Digital Marketing Specialist, AJ Arshem. AJ joins us as a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he earned a BBA in Marketing and … Continue reading
As Marshall Furniture begins the new year, they look back at our successes not only in 2016 but during their past 30 year history. As some of you may know, last year they celebrated their 30 year anniversary. This milestone was marked by several celebrations throughout the year, including a selfie contest where prizes were given to some of their supportive customers and dealers. Marshall Furniture had great success last year, introduced a few new products and had a lot of interesting custom projects leave through their doors. Now that they begin their 31st year, their President, Dick Mangione, sat down to talk about his experiences throughout the last several decades and what he hopes to see in the forthcoming years.
In 1986, Marshall Furniture started out making fancy carts and monitor cabinets. The demand was simplistic but soon customers and dealers “were asking us to make things they couldn’t get others to make” says Mr. Mangione. As a response to customer demand, Marshall Furniture set out to make a name for themselves as a completely custom shop, doling out designs and products that clients would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. According to Mr. Mangione, this is what has continued to separate Marshall Furniture from its competition. “Everyone else is trying to sell a product with an SKU on it but we’re selling 100% custom, even when it’s a lower cost item. Our complete customization of literally everything we do is certainly what sets us apart.” It wasn’t a quick progression, however. Although the company did eventually transform into a fully custom wood shop, it wasn’t without hitting a few brick walls. The problem, Mr. Mangione explains, is building a brand to differentiate from other custom shops, including individual, contract millworkers. “We are (and have been) in competition with everybody in their basement with a table saw. And every other millwork shop.” In order to build brand awareness, Marshall Furniture set out to ensure they were manufacturing “a high quality product,” along with “presence at tradeshows” and a physical image in print and online through their annual catalog and website.
Investing in a brand image was just the beginning. Although Mr. Mangione stresses that his company’s ability to offer a complete custom experience is key, he is also adamant that their short 4-6 week custom lead-time and 10-30 day Quick Ship line are crucial to their continued success. At first, this wasn’t the case. Only with time and technology was such a feat possible. Early on, Mr. Mangione admits, it wasn’t always easy to keep up with customer demand, “We attempted to never have to say no to anything mechanically reasonable. For years and years, we were at a 12 week lead-time. The first few years were very hairy because of the expansion demand that we had.” However, improvements in machinery have helped. In fact, when asked whether there was a specific product line or manufacturing change that helped propel the company’s growth significantly, Mr. Mangione felt that the adaption of robots and computer aided design was paramount to their success. He says, “We couldn’t possibly do as much work as we do…without it.”
In fact, thanks to developments in wood working tech, Marshall Furniture has been able to take on some complex projects that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. Within reason, the company takes on almost any project, utilizing their quality standards and employing skilled wood workers to ensure a high level of craftsmanship. These custom and sometimes difficult projects are what Mr. Mangione enjoys the most. As he puts it, he likes to see the “strange ones” come through. His favorite is when “we get something that you know is going to look really cool.” Offering customization does sometimes contain drawbacks. “Sometimes we finish and do well (on cost) but we don’t always make a lot of profit. At some point though, that’s the risk you take being in business.”
In conjunction with aesthetic customization options, Marshall Furniture products are all AV integration ready. For the past 30 years, the company has been working alongside AV integrators to ensure each product is compatible with a project’s equipment specifications. In return, Marshall Furniture has relied on their trusted dealers to mitigate customer concerns on-site. This process whereby “we take care of the AV people and the furniture simultaneously” has been integral to their process. Although there has been an increase in customer knowledge of and interaction with technology recently, “they (customers) still don’t know much about furniture” says Mr. Mangione. Combining forces on both fronts has been integral to the company’s success, especially as technology trends shift. Being able to keep up with these changes is important. As Mr. Mangione explains, working alongside integrators has helped Marshall Furniture keep tabs on the latest equipment to hit the market. They are able to keep up-to-date on customers need within each application.
On a more personal note, I asked Mr. Mangione what he enjoys most about coming into the office every day for the past 30 years. His response? “The dogs. No question, the dogs.” As some may know, Marshall Furniture has been a dog-friendly environment for its three decade long existence. A few pups roam the offices and one or two grace the shop. He admits that his dedication to the dogs wasn’t always his number one concern. “Now that I’m semi-retired, of course it’s different. When I was running things directly, I had to know every part of the business.” During the company’s early days, Mr. Mangione admits that he most enjoyed the many hats he was able to wear. “When we started, there was just me and then two and then five and so on.” Now that the company employs 30+ workers, he has less running around to do. However, he feels his early days dabbling in almost every position has helped sharpen his business skills, “I worked in the shop, in the office, I collected the money. All of that has helped.”
Looking forward, Mr. Mangione does have some hopes for the future of his company. First and foremost, he tells me that he’d like to physically see the next 30 years, “though that would put me right at 100 (years old)” he says with a laugh. He moves on to emphasize the importance of Marshall Furniture’s role as a customer service engine. In fact, he describes Marshall Furniture’s vision as “taking care of people, filling in design blanks, getting people what they want.” These essential features, all of which he feels are at the root of the company’s success, are what he ardently hopes to see continued throughout the coming years.