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Form and Function
Ethosource offers high-quality office furniture—both new and pre-owned—at low prices but with all the services of full-price retailers

by Sharon A. Shaw

Whether they are small businesses or large corporations, companies face tremendous pressure to be efficient, save money and meet environmentally friendly standards. The newly opened Ethosource Office Furniture showroom in King of Prussia can help businesses of any size meet these requirements, all while creating an attractive office space.

Ethosource has been providing cost-effective, high-end office furniture for businesses across the nation since 2001, when owner John Gallen Jr.—then a liquidator for another brand—recognized a niche for pre-owned Herman Miller Ethospace brand office furniture. “It has aesthetically pleasing horizontal segments that can be snapped in place using the client’s choice of wood, fabric or metal,” explains Gallen. “This system is incredibly durable and can be recycled over and over.”

Gallen’s team of buyers liquidates office furniture for companies throughout the country. These organizations know to call on Ethosource when they plan to upgrade or close an office. These buyers inspect the furniture, bid on the lot and then—depending on its condition—resell it to the secondary market, deliver and install it for a different company wanting to furnish their office or have it refurbished in Ethosource’s Morgantown headquarters. Refurbishing can be as simple as cleaning and touching up the solid surfaces or installing new laminate, wood and upholstery, using the materials selected by the Ethosource client.

“Our sales team is trained to work as consultants,” Gallen says. “Clients work with them, one of our staff designers and a project manager. This team interviews them about the objective and goals for the space [being furnished], needs for individual people, space they will need and the type of environment they want to create. We work with them on finishes and colors while the project manager works through installation and delivery. Most people don’t know what they want or what’s available until we present them with the options from our experience with similar industries or businesses with a similar culture. We take all into consideration to come up with a layout.”

“Ethosource was a B-to-B type of company involving liquidation and sales through projects,” adds Mark Kramer, director of retail development. “With the business expanding, we were looking for the opportunity to offer retail/warehouse space close to Philadelphia where a lot of our customers are.” In addition to providing a convenient location for local customers as well as those who travel from across the country to meet with the Ethosource team, the 50,000-square-foot King of Prussia facility also houses 12,000 square feet of display and retail space.

In this showroom, furniture is displayed in separate vignettes featuring new and pre-owned furniture designed for specific purposes, such as a conference room, training room, executive office, workstation or lounge, or from specific manufacturers. The “wall of chairs,” for example, enables visitors to easily see, test and compare multiple designs, making it easy for them to choose from the inventory. The retail space also enables Ethosource to assist small-business owners and those with home offices needing only a few items. “This component affords people the opportunity to come in and buy anything, from a floor of furniture to a desk and chair for their home office,” Kramer says. “We can make shipping arrangements, or they can come with their own truck for a cash-and-carry purchase.”

“We are not exclusive,” adds Ethosource vice president of sales Bryon Kauffman. “Steelcase, Knoll and Hayworth are some of the many manufacturers of furniture we liquidate. But Herman Miller Ethospace is what we refurbish. Our most popular products are the Herman Miller Ethospace cubicles. Its design applies in most larger office settings. Gone are days of sitting in closed-door office; most employees now sit in a cubicle. These are appropriate for almost any professional office, from a small telemarketer call space to an office of paralegals or accountants or engineers.”

He also notes that conference and training-room furniture are very common needs, as are reception areas. “We provide any type of furniture you would find in an office: storage, filing and shelving. We deal with every aspect of what you need.”

Ergonomic task chairs have become an increasing part of Ethosource’s business, according to Kauffman. These include name-brand chairs and well-known styles such as the Herman Miller Aeron and Steelcase Leap chairs. Ethosource replaces the worn-out fabric and mechanics on these chairs before reselling them. “The resulting product is far better than any you would buy at office-supply store,” he says.

“Herman Miller has always been known for good products that are well engineered and designed,” Kauffman says. Ethospace is one of the most durable and flexible systems created; because of its high-quality construction the products can withstand refurbishing. “It is the original frame-and-tile system,” he says. “The segmented wall allows you maneuver things easily.” This innovative design allows the Ethosource team to swap out the fabric panels with new upholstery or wood, replace trim and install new laminate surfaces. “Depending on the customer’s budget and aesthetics they can choose their fabric and finish.”

There are many advantages to choosing pre-owned Ethospace furniture. Kauffman says the savings on cubicle spaces vary based on the amount of refurbishment needed and the materials chosen but be as much as 70 percent off the cost of new products. High-end “case goods”—the wood hutches and desks often chosen for executive-level offices—can sell for one-quarter to one-fifth of the original price. “It is not uncommon to sell $10,000 to $15,000 worth of furniture for $2,000 to $3,000 and it still looks new,” he says. These savings allow companies who would otherwise have been unable to afford A-grade furniture that will last a long time to be able to do so.

Even though the furniture offered by Ethosource is pre-owned and refurbished, Kauffman notes customers do not sacrifice service for savings. “We still provide design,” he says. “Our staff of designers can help from color coordination to space planning and configuration. There is nothing you are sacrificing in the buying experience.” Ethosource provides every service, from delivery to installation, for clients both locally and across the country. “We coordinate when the truck will show up, then our crew meets the truck, brings in the furniture, the assembly is done according to a schedule worked out with our project manager and the furniture is wiped down and ready to be used. Then we walk through with the customer to ensure they have no concerns or questions.”

Ethosource also offers repair-and-refurbish services to the owners of existing Ethospace furniture. “We will give the office a face-lift,” Kauffman says. “Because of the design, that is easy to do. We can snap the tile out of frame and re-cover or replace it. We can trade out their furniture literally overnight and they don’t have to re-purchase it.”

Ethosource recently offered this service to a company seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Furniture refurbished by Ethospace will generate LEED points, which take into consideration environmental benefits such as the origin of a product and the amount of recycled content it contains. “We can often lend enough points to bring a business up a category,” says Gallen. Kauffman adds that while some companies purchase from Ethosource to contribute to their LEED certification, others “want to do right thing and understand there is great furniture that allows them to have a beautiful office while being really green and sustainable.”

“There is a niche for pre-owned Ethospace furniture,” he says. “Not many others are doing this and we do it on a bigger, better scale than anyone.” Ethosource will soon be opening a second retail location in Reading. “We are very happy for our next phase of company growth,” says Gallen. “For now we are excited to be in the King of Prussia market. It’s a great opportunity.”

Ethosource Office Furniture
411 Yerkes Road
King of Prussia, PA  19406
888-807-3846 | www.ethosource.com


Photograph by Rob Hall

 

Suburban Life Magazine