OFS Brands: Workplace innovators
It’s a dreary Tuesday in Boston. November has finally released the full breadth of it’s weather upon the city and it’s not pleasant. So this week we let our minds wander to warmer climates down the East Coast, past the Mason Dixon Line, to profile OFS Brands via two employee standouts.“Cold up where you are?” The question is polite and teasing. Wesley Harper and Doug Shapiro are located in South Carolina and Indiana, respectively, and you can almost hear the touch of Schadenfreude woven into their pleasantries.
Huddled around the conference phone with a space heater blasting 76 degree air on the highest fan setting, the joke is definitely on us, but we take it in stride.Right away it’s clear Wes and Doug represent a dynamic powerhouse. Listening to them talk about OFS Brands is electrifying. The conversation constantly is caught up in the eddying swirls of both their enthusiasm and the potential possibilities stemming from casual collaboration. The mind jumps to a closeup image of champagne bubbling in a glass flute: these guys are full of energy and what they have to say about OFS is fascinating.
What makes OFS Brands a workplace innovator?
The history of OFS Brands shows how innovative the company is at their core. It’s a charming story about woodworkers and simple furniture makers, who have tried to keep a family-oriented, nature-friendly, and transparent management way of business present as they’ve grown. Admittedly it’s hard to believe at first what OFS is preaching. The hard lessons from pop culture, such as “Citizen Kane” and “Wolf of Wall Street”, have been heard loud and clear.
Memories of financial betrayal and resulting fallout of the economic recession are still fresh in most minds. These things have taught us to be guarded, quick to doubt, and unable to recognize true integrity without first scoffing dismissively.The reconciliation between the absolute truth of a company’s philosophy and the inescapable need for brand management of a for-profit product merges within OFS Brands in a way that is oddly inspiring.
“We are coaches for the workplace,” Wes states firmly in a soft coastal southern accent. “Not workplace consultants.”
We took him to mean that they're more about transformative ideas than about physical objects.
Why do we like them?
Oh yes, they make absolutely gorgeous furniture. But we love how open they are to building long-term relationships, which is probably due to two of their core values as a company - sustainability and craftsmanship. Doug explains further, “Designing office environments - the building, lighting, layout, furniture, mechanical, and so on - is a very challenging act of orchestration that can sometimes become a quest for an abstract ideal” he admits. “We’re not always trying to create art or perfection, we’re trying to form connections.”
Case in point - they clearly see a connection between their time-honored wood-based products and tech-driven smart workplaces. Not because this might make their products better, but because they believe it will make their customers' workplace experiences better.Another cool thing about OFS? They like us, too. In fact, it wasn’t Robin who reached out to them. Rather, it was Doug’s organic discovery that started the relationship. Wes remembers the moment clearly,
“You guys were working more in the entertainment sphere with RFID wristbands. I remember Doug’s text like it was yesterday, 'holy sh*t, we gotta check these guys out. What could [Robin] mean for the workplace?' I then reached out to Zach [Dunn] and had a great conversation.”
All flattery aside, we can’t help but add OFS to our roster of standouts. Any company with such a wonderful history that continues to strive for business evolution and is openly receptive to what innovations in new technology can mean for not only their customers but the world in general definitely goes down in our book.