Acquisitions/ Mergers/ New Companies/ Divestitures
Terrell's Equipment Co. controlled
MOFC gained the controlling interest in Terrell's Equipment Co. and continued producing items under the Terrell name. It was founded in Grand Rapids, MI in 1908, and Steelcase founder, W.D. Idema was named Vice President in 1922.
Fancy Furniture Co. of Grand Rapids, MI was purchased by MOFC. The factory became the Chair Plant.
Steelcase Canada Ltd. founded
Steelcase Canada Ltd. (a.k.a. Canadian Steelcase Co. Ltd.) was founded in Markham, Ontario.
Sierra Metal Products founded
Sierra Metal Products was founded and associated with the Hunting-Roberts Co. [Exact date is unknown, c.1959.]
Hunting-Roberts Co. purchased
The Hunting-Roberts Co. was purchased by Steelcase. The name changed to Steelcase, Inc. in 1963. It was originally founded by E.C. Roberts and E. Hunting in 1935 as a partnership selling Steelcase and other products on the West Coast.
Attwood Corp. owned
1964 - 2003
Attwood Corp. of Lowell, MI was purchased by Steelcase in 1964. It was a manufacturer of boat parts, and supplied parts to Steelcase for office furniture. Steelcase sold Attwood to Brunswick Corp. in 2003.
Curtis Products, Ltd. acquired
Curtis Products, Ltd. of Cobourg, Ontario was acquired as a subsidiary of Steelcase. It focuses on high-style seating. [Exact date is unknown, c.1972.]
Steelcase Japan Ltd. established
Steelcase Japan Ltd. (a.k.a. Steelcase Far East, Ltd.) was formed as a 25% joint venture with Kurogane Ltd. in Osaka, Japan. It was dissolved in 1979, because Steelcase bought it out, and established S/K Ltd.
Vecta Contract acquired
Vecta Contract was founded in 1959, and purchased by Steelcase in 1978. It is located in Grand Prairie, TX, with a focus on architectural furnishings. The Beylerian Collection (wholesale designer chairs by George H. Beylerian) was merged into the Vecta line in June 1987. When Vecta became part of Steelcase, it was included in the Steelcase Design Partnership.
Pohlschröder GmbH acquired
Pohlschröder was acquired as part of the Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. joint venture. It was the Steelcase Strafor for Germany and Austria. Pohlschröder was founded in 1855, with a focus on metal safes.
Remaining Strafor interest acquired
Steelcase acquired the remaining 50% of Strafor from the previous joint venture, fully owning Strafor. This acquisition included 5 plants in France, and 4 in Africa (Morocco, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Senegal). [The dates of this transaction vary.]
Stow & Davis Furniture Co. purchased
Stow & Davis was purchased by Steelcase. Previously Steelcase founders, W.D. Idema and D.D. Hunting Sr. invested in Stow & Davis in 1936.
Hedberg Data Systems, Inc. acquired
Data Management Corp. was acquired by Steelcase and the name changed to Hedberg Data Systems, Inc. It was originally founded in 1979.
Metropolitan Furniture Corp. acquired
Metro was founded in 1905, and acquired by Steelcase in 1987. It became part of the Steelcase Design Partnership focusing on casegoods and seating. Metro is based in San Francisco, CA.
Atlier International, Ltd. acquired
Atlier (a.k.a. ai) was acquired by Steelcase in 1987 and included in the Steelcase Design Partnership. It was originally founded in 1967. Cassina is the sole distributor and licensee in the U.S.
Brayton International Inc. acquired
Brayton was founded in 1973 by L. Paul Brayton, and acquired by Steelcase in 1987. Located in High Point, NC, Brayton's focus was casegoods and seating. It was included in the Steelcase Design Partnership.
Steelcase Design Partnership formed
The Steelcase Design Partnership (SDP) was formed from Metro, Brayton, and Vecta, in Texas.
DesignTex Fabrics acquired
DesignTex was acquired by Steelcase. It was originally founded in 1961.
Sannash of Morocco was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A.
A.F. Sistemas acquired
A.F. Sistemas was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. It was known as Steelcase Strafor for Spain, and A.F. Steelcase Strafor.
Eurosteel of Portugal was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A.
Gordon Russell, Harvey acquired
Gordon Russell, Harvey was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. as Steelcase Strafor for the United Kingdom.
Revest was acquired by Steelcase and the name changed from Alternative Office Furniture, Inc. which was an office refurbishing company in Atlanta, GA.
Details founded in New York City as "Office Details, Inc."
Wigand Corp. purchased
Wigand Corp. of Colorado Springs, CO and Avon Lakes, OH was acquired by the Stow & Davis division of Steelcase. It was incorporated into the Steelcase Design Partnership. Wigand was originally founded in 1968 with a focus on mill work.
Steelcase Healthcare founded
Steelcase Healthcare was founded. [Exact date is unknown, c.1993.]
Anderson Desk, Inc. acquired
Anderson Desk, Inc. of Commerce City, CA was acquired by Steelcase. It was a budget desk and seating manufacturer.
Formed to meet the needs of small businesses.
IDEO Product Development, Inc. investment
Steelcase entered into an equity investment with IDEO.
Waiko Büromöbel GmbH acquired
Waiko Büromöbel GmbH of Durlangen, Germany was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A.
Werndl Büro Möbel AG acquired
Werndl was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. in 1998. It was originally founded in Rosenheim, Germany in 1895.
Steelcase International founded
Steelcase International was founded.
Airbourne of France was acquired by Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. [Exact date is unknown, c.1999.]
Celestra Hauserman fully acquired
Celestra Hauserman was fully acquired by Steelcase. It was originally located in Cleveland, OH, but moved to Solon, OH in 1991. It was founded in 1913 by E.F. Hauserman and is known for creating the first partitions. Strafor Facom S.A. formed a 50% joint venture with Celestra Hauserman in July 1998.
PolyVision was purchased by Steelcase. It was originally founded in 1954, with an emphasis on information displays.
Custom Cable Industries owned
2001 - 2010
Custom Cable Industries of Tampa, FL was bought by Steelcase in 2001 and sold in 2010. It manufactures modular power, voice, and data products.
Ultra Group Co. Ltd. acquired
Ultra Group was acquired by Steelcase, but remained an independent organization and brand. Ultra is a leading office furniture manufacturer in China.
Coalesse founded. This was the new name for the Steelcase Premium Group (formed in 2007 from the Steelcase Design Partnership).
MOFC Organizational Meeting
March 12, 1912
Organization of MOFC is complete – Officers are President, A. W. Hompe; Vice President and General Manager, P. M. Wege; Treasurer, Henry Idema; Assistant, Walter Idema; Directors: Henry Vinkmulder, Philip H. Travis, Fred W. Tobey, O.H.L. Wernicke.
Broke away from Macey
Metal Office Furniture Co. began making safes and file cabinets with the MOFC, formally severing ties with Macey, because Macey was suffering from WWI and not buying much from MOFC.
Business Furniture Company becomes the first full-fledged, independent dealer of Metal Office Furniture equipment.
Independent Dealer Network established
The Independent Dealer Network was established.
Metal Mutual Insurance Co.
MOFC along with other Grand Rapids metal manufacturers combined forces to offer insurance to employees as required under the Workers Compensation Act.
Trademarks registered in Argentina
Trademarks were registered in Argentina, as the first instance of MOFC entering international markets.
Factory temperatures lowered
Factory temperatures were lowered to reduce costs and keep as many people as possible employed during the Depression.
Reduced pay and hours
MOFC reduced pay and hours in order to keep as many employees on the payroll as possible during the Depression.
MOFC began offering bonuses to employees.
MOFC began offering profit-sharing retirement benefits to employees. They were one of 250 such plans in existence in the U.S.
December 1, 1954
MOFC shareholders voted to adopt the highly-recognized Steelcase trademark as the company name, becoming Steelcase, Incorporated on December 1, 1954.
Free Radio commercials
Free to dealers
Steelcase TV commercials
Steelcase sold TV commercials to dealers to air in their locations.
Steelcase becomes a sponsor
Verify if still participate, or when involvement ceased
Designated largest manufacturer in industry
1,000,000 plus sq. ft.
Steelcase Foundation founded
First company jet
Cessna Citation 421
GR Junior College tool & die apprenticeship program begins
Grand Valley State College Module Mobile trailer
Brought to Steelcase for employees to take courses and learn at their own pace
Dental plan announced
Was there one before this?
First CAD system used
Steelcase Counseling and Referral Service established
Louis Harris & Associates studies
“The Steelcase National Study of Office Environments: Do They Work?”
First instances of User Centered Design (assuming Steelcase used the results of the study to change products)
Every product could be seen as UCD, but this was the first study commissioned by Steelcase
Plans begin for Energy Recovery Plant
Turning waste into energy, an environmental protection measure
Study - Comfort and Productivity in the Office of the 80s
Louis Harris & Associates study
Chicago Electrical Code requirements met
First systems furniture manufacturer to do so
11/1979 – Initial approval; 4/1980 – Further approvals
Intended to discover ways to cut office energy costs
Acoustics Lab opened
Industry/ company first
Comprehensive acoustics lab to test the speech privacy potential of both workstation components and complete workstations under simulated open office conditions
LEED Wood Plant
Wooden chairs sold
Wooden chairs manufactured by Milwaukee Chair Co. were offered from MOFC. Metal Office Furniture Co. saw the need to sell chairs, but did not yet have the manufacturing capacity to produce them.
Hunting-Roberts Co. offers office planning
The Hunting-Roberts Co. (the partnership on the West Coast) first began offering office planning.
Partnered with the University of Michigan Engineering Research Institute to research acoustics. Produced a report on the "Vibrations Damping Treatments on Metal Office Furniture."
Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. formed
Steelcase formed a joint venture with Strafor (a division of Forges de Strasbourg), creating Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. Forges de Strasbourg was founded in France in 1919, and developed the Strafor brand (for office furniture) in 1926.
Steelcase Jersaisy Ltd. founded
Steelcase Jeraisy Ltd. was founded as a joint venture, to manufacture in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Strafor Facom S.A. formed a 50% joint venture with Celestra Hauserman. It was originally of Cleveland, OH, but moved to Solon, OH in 1991. Founded by E.F. Hauserman in 1913, it was known for creating the first partition.
Wilkhahn products distributed by Vecta
Wilkhahn products were distributed by Vecta Contract of Grand Prairie, TX. Wilkening + Hahne GmbH+Co.KG was founded in 1907 in Bad Münder, Germany, with an emphasis on seating. The name was later changed to Wilkhahn after WWII. [Exact date is unknown, c.2000.]
P.M. Wege bent sheet steel at right angles to form “steel cases” – steel safes that are lighter, yet stronger than iron (acquiring 6 patents). These safes and file cabinets were designed to meet the needs of their client/dealer/partner, Macey.
Steel welds introduced
Introduced the use of steel welds in the manufacture of desks.
Victor wastebaskets produced
Designed the industry's first metal wastebasket, to reduce the risk of office fires.
Boston Customs House desks
The first desk (the "601") produced was for the Boston Customs House. The government required all metal furniture for a skyscraper and MOFC caught wind of the bid and threw a mockup together, and got the bid even though another company offered to do it cheaper (but that company's product wasn’t of high enough quality). These desks were originally finished in a wood-grain to resemble the wooden desks customers were used to.
Narrow bead binding used
MOFC was the first in the industry to use narrow bead binding.
Steelcase Business Equipment
All products were now branded with the "Steelcase Business Equipment" badge.
Spray painting introduced
MOFC introduced spray painting to the furniture, which allowed for improved finishes in less time.
Improvement to desks
MOFC removed the center supports for the desks to better accommodate user knee space and allow the floor to be cleaned with greater ease.
Wood-grain finishing process
MOFC began using a new 2-week process that resulted in metal furniture with either oak or mahogany finishes (as per preferences).
Products for education
MOFC enters the education sector with custom desks for Cornell’s medical school. [Exact date unknown, c.1930s.]
Doehler metal furniture
MOFC began producing metal bed frames and other home furnishings for Doehler Metal Furniture Co. This began as a partnership, with MOFC later buying out Doehler. MOFC did this as a way to survive the Depression.
Century of Progress desk
The Century of Progress desk was unveiled at the Chicago's World's Fair. It was the industry's first island-based desk with roll-top edge.
Vegetable spray units
MOFC began producing vegetable spray units under the Terrell name. These were designed to make produce last longer in the shelves in grocery stores.
MOFC manufactured stove pipes for another West Michigan company as a means of weathering the Depression. [Exact date unknown, c.1936.]
Collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright
MOFC collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright on the furniture for the open office layout of the Johnson Wax building. Wright designed the task-oriented furniture and MOFC manufactured it.
C Line chairs
MOFC produced and sold their first chairs.
Swatch cards were first offered by MOFC.
U.S. Navy products
1941 - 1945
MOFC designed and produced furniture for the U.S. Navy on board ships during WWII. This was a means of operating within the restrictions imposed on the steel industry during the war. During this time MOFC continued to design products for after the end of the war.
MOFC began producing furniture in multiples of 15 to better utilize space in offices. MOFC stopped producing all other dimensioned desks, would either rise or fall with the new concept. By 1957 every competitor (wood and steel) used these dimensions.
MOFC was the first in the industry to use Mastic sound-proofing in products.
Auxiliary typewriter shelf inserts
The auxiliary typewriter shelf inserts in desks were the first in the industry to replace the box drawer.
Convertibles allowed every square foot of floor space used by desk and accessory units to be used as a working surface, broadened Multiple 15 concept.
Sunshine Styling was the name given to the first colors introduced to the office furniture industry by D.D. Hunting. Prior to this innovation, choices were either gray or olive green.
Color sales literature
MOFC was the first in the industry to provide color sales literature.
Stainless steel binding on desks
Industry first, others were using aluminum
Contemporary designed desks
Square corners, 1” square tubular legs exposed top to base
Steelcase Coordinated Offices
Now offering more than just furniture, SCO provided customers with complete office planning, no need to share installations with competitors
Industry first matte- finish chrome - c. 1967
Union of Multiple 15 and Convertibles
Need to investigate further
Need to verify date
Clear acrylic bases that seem to make furniture float
Industry’s most comprehensive systems line, designed for the computerized office
Became a leader in free-standing and panel-hung furniture
Industry first ergonomically designed chair
Industry first modular paper handling system for use with systems furniture
Cute animation, "Timothy the Paper Tiger" video and collateral created to promote the PaperFlo. Paper Tiger
Unitrol chair mechanism
Allowing for swivel and tilt with better control in all positions, in a 1-piece housing
50% of products offered in 1980 were not offered in 1975
Innovation is key to growth and success in the marketplace
Chair marketed to those who spend long hours at the computer
Workstations for specific tasks
Do these have a name?
Steelcase researched 50+ major corporations to develop the industry’s first comprehensive documentation of user-verified workstations for specific tasks
Industry first chair that senses and responds to the body
DesignTex fully Compostable Fabric
Officially the company’s first entry into the healthcare market, but it might have gone back further, e.g. one Hackett’s Huddle mentioned the Victor wastebaskets being sold to hospitals and therefore Steelcase was always in healthcare – need to verify this; 07.1956 Steelcase Circle notes hospitals are “a mushrooming market”
Leap Chair - Revolutionary new chair with Live Back technology
Think chair is the first Steelcase product to earn Cradle-to-Cradle certification
The stock market crash, leading to the Great Depression.
Metal furniture required to cut steel consumption
Office of Price Administration (OPA) order manufacturers of metal office furniture to cut use of steel by 40 percent under monthly use for past year, warns of future drastic cuts, article in GRH November 9, 1941, p. 3
The Japanese sign the surrender agreement aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The documents were too large for the table originally intended, so a MOFC mess table was used instead.
IRS Tax Increase
IRS tax rate increases from 10% to 13%
FICA increases from $7,800 to $9,000. 5.2% rate remains the same. Those paying the maximum will give $468 to Social Security. $750 exemptions for each dependent, up from $675 in 1971
FICA Increase 2
FICA tax rate is 5.85%, unchanged from 1973. Increase on amount levied from $10,800 to $13,200
FICA tax rate remains at 5.85%, wage base rises from $13,200 to $14,100
Social Security Increase
Social Security base increases from $15,300 in 1976 to $16,5000 in 1977. Tax rate will remain at 5.85%
FICA Increase 3
FICA increases from 5.85% to 6.05%; max of $20 increase for incomes $10,000 or less; climb to $106 for incomes of $17,700 or more