Five years ago, michael volkema, 39, emerged from the filing and warehousing department of Herman Miller, the furniture maker, become the company is experiencing painful job cuts and restructuring after an industry downturn.
Volkema sits in a small office, customizes it only by adding Herman Miller's popular Aeron chair, and brings together a team of more than a dozen executives to work outThe problem?
Herman Miller, based in Zeeland, Michigan.
Catering to a narrow, large
Name customer base;
It has little interest in modernizing its business using technology, and there are few new designs in progress.
Plan: enter three new market segments-
Family, emerging and medium-sized enterprises;
Improve the service of traditional customers;
Embrace technology, develop new products and serve four markets. It paid off.
In the five years led by Volkema, sales almost doubled to $1.
8 billion of the fiscal year 1999, income from $4 million to $0. 142 billion.
Over the past three years, Herman Miller has spent more than $0. 2 billion in technology (
Like a computer system.
R & D investment exceeded $100 million.
"We used to argue about who the customer was, as if there was only one customer," said Donald Gorman, head of the senior development group.
"From early on, Mike realized that we needed to reach and serve a range of customers.
Like open humble Walker
The shirt, trousers and casual shoes, with a cell phone attached to the belt, stressed: "This is not --solution-fits-all business.
To attract buyers, the company launched hmhome. com in 1998.
The website features independent office furniture designed specifically for this market.
It also provides a re-release of modern classics collected from the company's respected designer profiles such as Charles and Ray Ames, noguamu and George Nelson.
With potential sales of $100 million a year, it will still be a small part of Herman Miller's business, but its high profile makes an important impression.
Herman Miller, who first came into contact with small businesses, used a network of 180 retailers and their websites.
Volkema estimates that this is a $3 billion market segment and a huge area of growth.
For medium-sized customers, 3-
D design and order entry to connect suppliers, distributors and customers Herman Miller digitally to make the transaction fast and reliable.
For larger customers, there are customized
Custom computer programs, even the employees of Herman Miller, they will replace
House facilities management team.
What drives the company ahead of its peers is its willingness to spend money on innovative designers.
General Volkema wants to find the next Robert.
He created a flexible office compartment in 1968, Action office, when-
Small Herman Miller growth company (
Make it possible for Dilbert comics).
Volkema may be successful, 35-year-
Old Ayse Birsel and her Resolve office system redefine open-
Plan 120-office space
The degree angle of the combination of Rod, arm and screen.
"Mike knows how to foster design," says Gorman, whose department oversees the development of determination.
"There is no leader paranoia on our shoulders.
He gave us a clear mission and gave us a lot of power to find the right solution.
"Another potentially lucrative product, temporarily named Avenue, is a movable wall system, similar to a private office with separate climate control.
This month, Volkema and his executives will move into the office of Avenue to present in the company's design building.
The bees in the new solve workstation will surround them.
"We paid for it," Volkema said with a smile . ".