HOLLAND, Mich. — Trendway Corp. plans to dramatically increase its penetration of the seating market through a joint venture with Interstuhl Büromöbel GmbH, one of the dominant seating companies in Europe.
The new venture, InterTrend Seating™ LLC, combines Interstuhl's expertise in product development and engineering with Trendway's strengths in manufacturing and distribution.
"Though virtually unknown in North America, Interstuhl has long been recognized throughout much of the world for superbly engineered, well-designed seating," says Mike Lehmann, Trendway's marketing director. "We have been exploring the possibility of a
partnership with them for several years, and now the time is right."
Initially, Trendway will adapt four to six existing seating lines for distribution in North America under the Trendway name. Future plans call for the joint venture to begin developing its own additional designs.
Interstuhl is a family business located in Messstetten-Tieringen, Germany, a small town about 60 miles south of Stuttgart. The company traces its roots to a blacksmith shop founded in 1930. It began producing workplace chairs in 1960 and introduced the Interstuhl trademark in 1967.
Today, Interstuhl produces contract, factory, youth, and institutional seating, as well as freestanding conference and training tables. The company employs 540 people and achieved $80 million in sales in 2000.
The two companies first met in 1990 when Joe Link, Interstuhl's current CEO of Tecnics (son of President and CEO Werner Link) spent six months at Trendway as an engineering intern. Executives visited back and forth in the ensuing years, forming a relationship that has culminated in the creation of InterTrend Seating.
Interstuhl distributes its seating products in virtually every major market worldwide with one notable exception — North America. The primary obstacle to penetrating that lucrative final frontier has been the difficulty of establishing a North American dealership base. By partnering with Trendway, Interstuhl instantly gains access to a network of some 500 independent dealers who already carry Trendway products. Meanwhile, Trendway instantly gains multiple seating lines that have already earned a worldwide reputation for quality and design.
"The rationale for the joint venture is pretty simple," Lehmann says. "Interstuhl wants to be in North America, and we want to increase our seating offering."
InterTrend Seating Products
Interstuhl offers a comprehensive seating lineup that rivals the scope of those produced by the largest U.S. contract furniture manufacturers. Long known for unparalleled German engineering and unrivaled quality, the company has recently begun turning heads from a design standpoint as well.
Of Interstuhl's 12 existing seating lines, Trendway is considering four to six for the inaugural introduction. They are being adapted to meet the need of the North American market and will comply with BIFMA standards.
"Now, Trendway will be able to offer a strong seating competence which can be sold alone as well as in conjunction with existing systems furniture. Aesthetically and functionally, our offering will compete with any chair on the market and will carry an extremely attractive price," says Brad Fritz, seating product manager for Trendway.
Multiple models will be available, including low-, medium- and high-back swivel chairs and stackable visitors' chairs for task and management applications.
Made in U.S.A.
The new joint venture, InterTrend Seating, expects to add about 75 jobs within the next two years. The company is currently working on selecting a manufacturing site in the United States and plans to ship products beginning in January. "By manufacturing in the U.S, the new seating lines of 'Trendway designed by Interstuhl' will offer the same exceptional service, short-time delivery, and customer support for which Trendway is known," says Lehmann.
Initially, key components will be shipped from Germany, including the handcrafted mechanisms that are most responsible for Interstuhl's quality reputation, while commodity components will be sourced domestically. Eventually, more and more components will be sourced and manufactured in the United States.
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Based in Holland, Mich., Trendway Corporation manufactures private and open plan office environments and seating distributed throughout North America. The company has been providing high-performance, compatible product lines and excellent customer service and support programs since 1968. For more information on Trendway, please call (616) 399-3900 or visit www.trendway.com.