Franco Bianchi, president & CEO of American manufacturer of professional furniture, Haworth, told the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, USA, that he’s taking the office furniture manufacturer beyond cubicles and chairs.
As his company prepares to launch Blue35, an eight-story office building in Grand Rapids’ Heartside District that will make cutting-edge office technology available to companies large and small, Bianchi told Monday’s audience that Haworth will find its niche in technology.
Bianchi, whose privately-held company was founded in Holland by G.W. Haworth 65 years ago, said it intends to remain strong in West Michigan by expanding into global markets.
“I try to run the smallest big company I can,” said Bianchi, an Italian who was hired to lead Haworth in 2005. Bianchi said 2,600 of Haworth’s 6,000 employees worldwide are in West Michigan.
Using Haworth’s Bluescape interactive technology and other Haworth products, Bianchi said they are moving beyond panels and cubicles. “They are like the Linus blankets,” he said, referring to the security blanket used in the “Peanuts” comic strip.
While manufacturing will continue to be at the heart of Haworth’s existence, Bianchi said their research will be focused on design and technology. “The manufacturing of today is not the manufacturing of 20 years ago,” he said.