‘Designed to Work. Built to Last.’

June 7, 2004
The tagline (above) – and, I might add, company philosophy – of Muscatine, IA-based Allsteel Inc. is reflected throughout its facilities, processes, people, and products. I learned that firsthand during a recent visit.Facilities: Entering the heartland-inspired headquarters building featuring design and material elements that replicate the rural landscape of middle America, both literally and figuratively, I was fascinated by how the company and its headquarters architect, Gensler, captured the duality of nature. For instance, the simplicity of Iowa’s road and farmland grid pattern is mirrored in the design of the carpet and floorcoverings, yet coexists – harmoniously – with a rather high-tech-looking atrium “silo,” a light-filled community center, open office and showroom layouts that push the productivity envelope, and a cutting-edge training center. “[The headquarters facility] provides a visual testimony of who we are, how we operate, and how we think,” says Allsteel President Eric Jungbluth. Yet, while the design vitality of Allsteel’s corporate offices is new, the facility itself is not. This former factory was completely renovated and put to reuse – a strategic decision that conserved valuable green space for the community.Processes and People: In one of the company’s two manufacturing facilities, Flow Improvement Manager Dennis Edwards doesn’t talk about process engineering as one might expect; rather, he praises the member-employees’ insight and innovation in finding solutions. At Allsteel, the company, spurred on by its member-employees, has gained a competitive edge by incorporating rapid continuous improvements, which have included enhancements to the performance of products, complete on-time shipping and delivery, and affordable pricing. According to Edwards, every increment of improvement makes a difference. Enthusiastic member-employees agree – and respond with vision and diligence to an ever-higher level of achievement and expectation.Products: While first known for its practical steel filing cabinets and durable office furniture, Allsteel reinvented itself in the late 1990s with a new focus on the contract furniture segment. “Modern, purposeful design” became the abiding definition of all of Allsteel’s products. Intensive research and development, incorporating intuitive technology to meet the needs of customers, has propelled Allsteel to a whole new – and well-deserved – level of recognition and awareness. Design-driven products combine the best of all worlds: aesthetics, functionality, and performance.“Designed to Work. Built to Last.” As its corporate profile suggests, Allsteel is “a company that’s building a reputation, not resting on one.”

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