National Office located in Cleveland, OH has been in the office furniture industry since 1967.
In 1967, National Office was founded in Westlake, Ohio (Cleveland suburb)
as National Electro-Coatings, when Chairman Robert Schneider began
offering “on-site electro-static refinishing of metal office furniture”. At this
time, metal desks and file were the predominant type of office furniture. When
customers grew tired of boring colors or their offices needed a facelift, we
were able to go into their offices and repaint their furniture overnight. The
furniture was ready for use the next morning! This was state-of-the- art
technology for the time.
As the popularity of our electro-static painting grew, we began manufacturing
laminate (Formica) desk tops, which enabled us to completely convert old
desks into new desks.
In the 1970’s, we found success with Federal Government contracts through
the General Services Administration (GSA). National Electro-Coatings had
paint crews travelling the entire country to service Federal facilities. In order
to properly service customers nationally, we opened sales offices in Seattle
and San Francisco. Some of the more memorable projects are Wright
Patterson Air Force Base, Fort Knox, FAA Towers, National Weather Service,
IRS offices, and Social Security offices.
As the 1980’s rolled in, National Electro-Coatings had to adjust our marketing
strategies. GSA contracts were becoming undesirable due to red-tape and
unprofitable prices. With our ability to service clients nationally, it was a
natural progression to pursue large commercial accounts – large employers
with a lot of metal furniture. Our list of customers read like the Fortune 500
List – IBM, Chrysler, Ford Motor, AT&T, Northrup, Grumman, Boeing,
McDonnell Douglas, etc. We added sales offices in Philadelphia, St. Louis,
and Los Angeles.
Later in the 1980’s, it was necessary to adjust our business plan. Companies
were converting offices from freestanding desks into workstations or cubicles.
This resulted in a serious reduction in the quantity of metal furniture available
for painting. We adjusted by adding new services – panel refurbishing, chair
reupholstering and wood refinishing. Our panel refurbishing service became a
home run. We were completing major refurbishing projects around the country
with same customer base as described earlier.
In 1989, we were asked by a customer to provide additional Steelcase panels
for their project in Chicago. At this time, we were only refurbishing their
existing panels. Of course, we said “yes”
, and we proceeded to successfully
fulfill our commitment. This individual transaction dramatically changed our
business. We changed our focus to become the best remanufacturer of
Steelcase workstations – and we did!
In 1990, we changed our business name to National Office Services to better
reflect the nature of our company. In addition, we moved from Westlake to a
50,000 square foot building in Lakewood, Ohio. The larger building allowed
us to focus on the remanufacturing of Steelcase Avenir and 9000 stations,
which includes panels, worksurfaces, and painting.
As demand continued for our workstations (cubes), we started to included
seating, storage, tables, and desks. At this point, we became an office furniture
dealer, which featured remanufactured office furniture. To properly present
our furniture, we opened retail showrooms in Downtown Cleveland and the
Lyndhurst / Beachwood area.
By 1997, it was very apparent our Lakewood building could not support our
growth, so we purchased a 180,000 square foot manufacturing building in
Brook Park, Ohio near Cleveland Hopkins Airport. With this facility, we were
able to implement efficiencies with our production lines. We truly became an
office furniture manufacturing company.
In 1998, we established a factory showroom within our manufacturing plant.
By doing so, we decided to close our other retail showrooms.
As our manufacturing continued to improve, we began to seek office furniture
dealers located outside of Northern Ohio to sell our Remanufactured Steelcase
stations. Our marketing plan now involves wholesale accounts throughout the
country, and retail accounts in Northern Ohio from Cleveland, Akron, and
Canton to Youngstown, and Sandusky.
In 2000, we branded our office furniture as “gen2 Office Furniture”
enhanced the image of our high quality, environmentally-friendly, sustainable
line of furniture. Our gen2 Office Furniture line now includes Avenir and 9000
workstations, desks, tables, storage, and chairs.
In 2007, we expanded our building by constructing a 35,000 square foot
warehouse and distribution facility. Once again, this new building improved
our material handling and efficiencies, which led to improved products.
In 2008, National Office and North Coast Office Furniture merged operations.
North Coast was a serious competitor with a similar business plan. The
combined company was an immediate success.
The longevity of National Office is due to the hard work of our team
members. We have a “can-do” attitude, and the willingness to meet and
exceed our customers’ expectations. Changes in the economy, markets,
customers, products, and people are inevitable. By embracing change, we will
continue to find success.
Robert W. Schneider