Success Story: EOE Furniture
TeamDesign Serves as True Technology Partner for Online Dealer
If there’s one thing Jay Schuermann has learned after close to 45 years in the office furniture industry, it’s this: if you aren’t willing to change—and sometimes quite dramatically—you’re not going to be around for very long.
The dealership he runs today, EOE Furniture in Cincinnati, is far different from the traditional contract operations where he first learned his craft.
For one thing, it’s a virtual organization whose six employees operate wherever their computers happen to be. The dealership has no showroom of its own and if clients want to kick the tires on any products, Schuermann and his team take them either to local rep showrooms or existing client installations.
It’s different, too, because several years ago, Schuermann made a conscious decision not to pursue the large corporate market that is front and center for most contract dealers. Instead, EOE focuses primarily on smaller, emerging companies that typically operate without their own facilities department and who welcome the dealership’s “You run your business, we’ll run your move” value proposition.
It’s also an organization that’s committed to converting its fixed costs to variable costs wherever possible. It’s hardly unusual these days for dealers to outsource delivery and installation and Schuermann has been doing just that for more than 15 years. But today, he also outsources interior design and space planning, warehousing, IT services and, when the need arises, architectural and construction work.
It’s a model, Schuermann explains, that’s designed for what he calls the “New Normal,” a challenging set of business conditions that came into play about five years ago in the wake of the Great Recession.
But while those turbulent years may have forced many changes on the dealership, one thing, Schuermann notes, has stayed very much the same: the outstanding service and support provided to EOE by its lead technology partner, TeamDesign.
TeamDesign proved to be a true partner
“When the Great Recession hit, we went from an organization that at one time had 22 people on the payroll to just six,” Schuermann recalls. “It would have been very easy for TeamDesign to just walk away and leave us to fend for ourselves. Instead, they could not have been more accommodating and they made every effort to help us through some of the most difficult challenges our industry had seen in many years.”
TeamDesign, Schuermann explains, played a critical role in helping him and his team transition to their new model. “It certainly would not have been feasible for us to work virtually without a program like TeamDesign,” he contends. “It’s a key element of our New Normal because of the way it integrates the various aspects of our business and makes everything so easy to access for me, our sales support and our designers.”
But user-friendly, feature-rich software is only part of Schuermann’s TeamDesign story. “Leadership comes from the top and TeamDesign president Tammy Byrum has done an outstanding job of creating a company whose people are passionate about helping their customers work through their technology and business issues successfully,” he maintains.
“Whenever we had a question about the program or went looking for guidance on how to handle a particular function, the TeamDesign technical support people were always willing to stay with us for however long it took. There has never been a situation where they just left it up to us to figure out on our own and that’s been a huge help.”
Change is never easy and the transformation that took place at EOE certainly didn’t come without its challenges. But those challenges are largely behind Schuermann and his team now and the dealership today is growing and profitable.
TeamDesign, says Schuermann, played a key role in that transformation every step of the way. “We hear a lot of talk in our industry about the value of developing partner relationships rather than just trying to sell people product,” he says. “The good news for us—and it’s been good news for many years now—is that with Team Design we’ve found a partner, both for good times and bad times, who consistently delivers way beyond our expectations.”