Herman Miller: A Company Overview
Herman Miller has a long-standing belief in making the world around you, including your individual space and the natural environment, a better place to "work, heal, learn, and live." Based on this fundamental corporate value, the company has been designing and manufacturing Herman Miller furniture since 1923. Headquartered in Zeeland, Michigan, Herman Miller strives to not only improve the current generation's "human experience," but to also improve the lives of future generations by promoting responsible business practices today. The company approaches the design process with ingenuity and an inquisitiveness that has led to many award-winning designs. They have been successful in their pursuit of excellent design, because they encourage collaboration, including partnerships with legendary designers. The Michigan-based company has established lasting relationships with the celebrated designers of our time, including Charles and Ray Eames, Yves Behar, Isamu Noguchi, and George Nelson. These partnerships and the constant collaboration Herman Miller encourages lead to quality, long-lasting pieces designed with the consumer in mind.
Herman Miller produces a range of products including small business, home office, and residential seating and furniture, storage and filing products, and office and healthcare furniture systems and accessories. The company has taken great care to ensure their manufacturing processes are constantly improving, in order to better serve the customer and the environment. Manufacturing and distribution centers for Herman Miller furniture and products are located in the United States (Georgia, Wisconsin, and Michigan) and in China, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Herman Miller is truly a global corporation, with sales offices and showrooms located in over 40 countries. Through the global dealer network, the company sells their products to customers around the world, and they are recognized globally as a responsible corporate partner committed to pioneering business practices, timeless design, and environmental stewardship.
Herman Miller is committed to their mission: helping customers work, heal, learn and live in an improved environment. The company incorporates this value into every aspect of the design process. When approaching the new design of a product, the design team examines the current living or work environment and determines how Herman Miller furniture and products can help make these environments better for the individual customer. Herman Miller furniture is designed to improve the environment of the individual both today and in the future, which is why the company works to anticipate these needs and design their products accordingly. The company encourages innovation, thorough research, and a willingness to listen to the customer. This may sometimes mean a product is redesigned. For example, after designers Bill Stumpf and Dan Chadwick designed the Aeron Chair, they realized they could make it even better and improve upon their original design. The company completely supported this endeavor, and the redesigned Aeron Chair continues to be one of the most popular office chairs on the market today. Herman Miller's dedication to customer needs is something they have become known for as a company. The design team studies the environments of its customers to ultimately create products that offer a design solution.
Herman Miller has collaborated with some of the greatest design minds of our time. The partnerships they have solidified with designers like Bill Stumpf, George Nelson, and Charles and Ray Eames have led to innovative designs and award-winning products. Classic pieces are still popular today, largely in part to the design and quality Herman Miller furniture has become known for. Herman Miller furniture is celebrated around the world for its ingenuity, creativity, and functionality. The company's designs have been celebrated in museums around the world. Numerous designs are a part of the permanent collections at major museums like the Smithsonian Museum, the Henry Ford Museum, and the New York Museum of Modern Art. Traveling exhibitions, like Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller, showcase the company's ingenuity and creative process. In its announcement for the Good Design exhibit, The Muskegon Museum of Art highlighted the company's "collaborative problem-solving design process." This design process is unreplicated and is what makes Herman Miller furniture so unique. Herman Miller examines individual everyday activities and designs furniture in a way that will make the individual's experience doing that activity better. This approach can be seen time and time again in the technology and designs that the company produces. From their ergonomic Posture Fit technology to the most recent design of the 3D Intelligent Suspension in the SAYL Chair, Herman Miller continues to delight customers with their fresh perspective and willingness to develop a design solution to best fit their needs.
Herman Miller is committed to operational excellence, and the company aims to perform at a level that exceeds expectations. They are dedicated to innovation throughout their design process and are constantly looking for ways to design, manufacture, and deliver better. For example, in 1996 they began an extensive search for ways to streamline their operations. The furniture industry has had a bad reputation at times for their long lead times and unpredictable deliveries on products that are oftentimes customized for individual customers. Herman Miller was determined to find a better way to assemble their products with the proper customizations and deliver them to customers on time. This search led them to Toyota, and they forged a relationship with the Toyota Supplier Support Center to learn from their lean manufacturing processes. This relationship allowed the company to drastically cut down on the lead time needed to manufacture and deliver customized Herman Miller furniture. The average time for standard products was reduced from eight weeks to four weeks, with many products arriving on customer's doorsteps in just ten business days. In addition, the company found they could achieve their goal using less space and materials, while increasing their sales. The partnership Herman Miller forged with Toyota is just one example of the company's commitment to operational excellence. By fostering an environment that encourages innovation, thoughtful research, and creative design, the company has placed itself in a position for positive growth in the future.
Herman Miller values its employees and their participation in the company. Starting in 1950, Herman Miller started a formal company program of participative management. Largely because of this program, they later began an employee stock ownership program in the early 1980s. This employee benefit has grown, and today employees with one month of service to the company are eligible to own stock. These employee-owners take pride in the work they are doing and understand how their roles directly affect the profitability of the company on a daily basis. As a team, employees work hard to share in the fortunes of the company. In addition to employee-ownership, the company created the Environmental Quality Action Team after a group of employees got together in 1989 to discuss the company's environmental policies and brought their thoughts to senior management. Today this group continues to monitor company progress as it relates to the environmental targets and goals set for the next decade. Employee participation has led to positive change within the organization, and Herman Miller is committed to listening to and leading with its employees.
Herman Miller is a company driven to produce the very best products for its customers, while at the same time ensuring the way in which they create, manufacture, and deliver products has a positive effect on the environment. The company founder, D.J. De Pree, believed wholeheartedly in stewardship. The company holds firm to the corporate value that they will be good stewards of the environment and the resources given to them. Based on this foundation, the company has been dedicated to conducting business in a responsible way. Their environmental policies include ambitious goals and targets for the company over the next ten years. The company's action plan, Perfect Vision, was created with the help of company employees on EQAT (Environmental Quality Action Team.) Targets of the plan include producing zero hazardous waste, building all new buildings with a LEED certification no lower than Silver, and using 100 percent green electrical energy throughout the company. These goals do not merely meet regulations and government guidelines, but they exceed them. In addition to Perfect Vision, Herman Miller uses sustainable building practices in all of its new office buildings and manufacturing plants. Founder D.J. De Pree had a vision for green buildings, so in 1993 the company helped fund a non-profit, the United States Green Building Council, to see this vision become a reality. The company has been recognized for its work and dedication to environmental practices. Since the early 1990s, they have received over 40 awards for their efforts on the environmental front. From their green buildings to their sustainable design process, Herman Miller continues to pave the way for other corporations and businesses to follow suit.
Awards and Recognition
Herman Miller has been given many awards and much recognition for its work. Based on a small sampling of these awards, it's easy to see how the corporate world views Herman Miller as a company and the products they manufacture. So far in 2010, they were one of six companies to be named by FORTUNE magazine as one of the "Most Admired" companies of the year and one of the "Best Companies to Work For." The Office Furniture Dealers Alliance gave the company the "Manufacturer of the Year Gold Award" at NeoCon in Chicago, and Fast Company named Herman Miller to their "Fast 50" Most Innovative list. In addition, they have received the seventh consecutive placement on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2009, Herman Miller achieved its third consecutive perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's eighth annual Corporate Equality Index and was given the "Design for Recycling" award by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. The company, their many buildings, and the vast collection of Herman Miller furniture have been the recipient over the years of multiple awards.
Herman Miller approaches everything they do with a fresh perspective, constantly looking for ways to improve on a process or product. They gather creative employees and designers to collaborate in a synergistic environment to design award-winning products. Using problem-solving design, Herman Miller is dedicated to making your life and your environment better. The needs of the customer are at the forefront of this design process, and designers approach the design of new products with an eye toward improved functionality. Through the relationships the company has with its designers, they are able to continue to offer the same quality classic pieces of old along with the fresh new designs of today.
Herman Miller values operational excellence, and its manufacturing processes are evidence of this. As a company, they work to improve, whether that's the design of a product or the method for manufacturing a product, and they are successful. If Herman Miller is aware of a problem, they are going to do their best to find a solution. Their employees are dedicated to this underlying value as well and serve as employee owners with Herman Miller. Employees understand that their individual roles within the company directly affect the company's success and its profitability on a daily basis. In addition to the manufacturing processes, the company is dedicated to its belief in environmental stewardship, and they are a corporate leader in environmental best practices for business. Not only do they lead by example through their ambitious Perfect Vision plan, but they also pave the way for other businesses to learn from their past endeavors. The company culture encourages ingenuity, curiosity, and initiative, and this culture sets Herman Miller furniture on the path to future greatness. Known around the world for the products they produce, Herman Miller is cognizant of more than the bottom line. As a company, they strive for excellence whether it's in the design process, the manufacturing process, or during delivery. Herman Miller, a leading force in the furniture industry, is an innovative company that is always pushing forward to deliver the best products to their customers in the best way.
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