- Locations: Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida and California, plus showrooms across the USA
- Sector: Commercial furniture design
- Website: ofs.com
It’s not often that a customer takes a seller out on tour, but furniture maker OFS recently invited Neat to showcase its devices in their Chicago Showroom during NeoCon 2022: the world’s leading expo for the commercial design industry. Prior to the show, we caught up with Wes Harper, Director of Distribution and Development at OFS, to discuss how a century-old family business stays on trend, how it stress-tests its Neat devices in a cavernous warehouse, and why no price is too high to keep Jake from IT happy.
So, what does OFS stand for?
Styline is the name of our logistics division and was the name of the company when we manufactured residential furniture. In the late 80s, we made the transition from residential to crafting contract furniture. So, the name became Office Furniture by Styline…OFS. We also like to think of OFS as Our Furniture Story or Our Family Story since we’re in our fourth generation of being a family-owned business.
For whom do you make furniture?
We serve a variety of small and large customers in the corporate, healthcare, education, hospitality, government and senior-living markets.
What does a Director of Distribution and Development do all day?
It’s a mouthful of a job title but, put simply, I’m the guy that likes to remove hurdles between our internal and external customers. I’m also ﬂuent in tech talk and what can tech can do to make more meaningful interactions and user experiences. I’m always questioning why we do things the way we do.
The products OFS produces look very modern. How does OFS stay on trend?
Over the past 10 years, we started thinking outside of the traditional ofﬁce and conference room. Then the world started moving towards ﬂexible workspaces and we were poised to lead that charge. The market helped put us there, but we also work with some interesting European product designers and our industry always has an eye on Europe for what’s going on.
What led a traditional manufacturing company to video collaboration?
I’d been working remotely since I joined OFS in 2011 and a few of us have been in this hybrid environment for a while. We originally had a big expensive device that you’d roll into a boardroom, plug it in and try to share from, and it would fry itself. It was just terrible, and it was even worse when you had a customer on the call. So, a few of us started a Zoom account and, when the IT team saw how well it worked, they were like, ‘Sign us up!’
If I want to spend $1,000 on tech, the IT team are going to ﬁnd something that can do the job for $100… But, when they saw Neat and looked at the cost, coupled with how easy it was to set up and manage, they saw the value too.
How did you come across Neat?
I was actually doing an online search for images of ‘small meeting rooms’ to share a new perspectives with our IT team. I came across your site and I thought, ‘This looks interesting. This looks affordable. This looks simple.’ So, without asking, I ordered a Neat Bar on my credit card and had it shipped to our Atlanta ofﬁce. When it arrived it was like Christmas.
How did you sell Neat into the rest of the company?
If I want to spend $1,000 on tech, the IT team are going to ﬁnd something that can do the job for $100 – and that’s good, that’s healthy. But, when they saw Neat and looked at the cost, coupled with how easy it was to set up and manage, they saw the value too.
People now walk in a room without their computers and just start a meeting. I’m often the guy on the other end of a call and usually I’d just be looking at a table of people. But now I can see and hear everybody and that creates a much more inclusive and efﬁcient meeting.
So, it was love at first Neat?
When we got the Neat boxes, I called one of our product development engineers, and said, ‘I’m gonna take some pictures and send them to you, because this is a great idea for packaging furniture.’
We also did a test in our R&D department, which is situated in a huge warehouse space. Jake, one of our IT team members, set up the Neat Bar Pro and I was watching over Zoom. I said, ‘Walk to the other end of the warehouse and talk to me.’ I could hear him clearly and I could also hear one of our upholstery technicians as he was cutting fabric patterns. So, I was essentially having a clear conversation with two people who were both over 75 feet away from the device.
Other than the IT team, how do your other staff members find using Neat devices?
People now walk in a room without their computers and just start a meeting. I’m often the guy on the other end of a call and usually I’d just be looking at a table of people. But now I can see and hear everybody and that creates a much more inclusive and efﬁcient meeting. The easy screen share option has simplified quick connections and removed the cords from the surface too.
Would you consider Neat devices to be good value for money, especially considering IT’s enthusiasm for cost savings?
I’d just say, yes, but the proof is when a meeting goes off ﬂawlessly and no one calls Jake because of technical issues. That in itself is worth the investment.
Visit the OFS stand at NeoCon 2022 to see how Neat’s cutting edge technology complements OFS’s cutting edge furniture.
OFS is currently running Zoom through Neat Bar, Neat Pad and Neat Bar Pro.
Visit neat.no/devices to find out more about these devices.