IBJNews

Locally based Business Furniture expands into Illinois, Iowa

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indianapolis-based Business Furniture LLC, a longtime Indiana market-share leader in office furniture sales, recently announced an expansion into Iowa and central and upstate Illinois that company officials predict will double the company’s sales within five years.

New markets include Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, Peoria and the Quad Cities. The Bloomington outlet, which will open in September, will serve as Business Furniture’s Illinois headquarters, Oakes said. The first store in the Quad Cities, a region including three cities on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River and Davenport, Iowa, will open in December. The company expects to add locations in the Quad Cities and open in Springfield and Champaign-Urbana in 2012. 

furniture-factbox.gifBusiness Furniture, which has 75 employees and $40 million in annual sales, plans to double its revenue and add at least 30 employees by 2016, said the company’s chairman, Richard Oakes. Its current footprint stretches from Terre Haute to Richmond and from Kokomo to south of Evansville. According to Oakes, the company has about 35 percent of the office furniture market in Indiana.

Distribution for the expanded region will initially be handled out of Indianapolis, but Oakes said within two years he expects to open a distribution hub in Illinois.

Most of the growing company’s administration will remain in Indianapolis, Oakes said.

“The expansion into these new markets will strengthen our corporate headquarters in Indianapolis as we become a regional company,” Oakes said.

Oakes, 67, who bought the company in 1987 from the founding Ober family, downplays the risks of such a large expansion while the economy in general and the office furniture sector in particular are still struggling to stabilize.

After reaching near-record U.S. sales of $13.4 billion in 2007, domestic office-furniture sales plummeted more than 32 percent, to $9.2 billion, in 2009 before rebounding slightly to $9.8 billion in 2010.

“One of our major suppliers, Steelcase, wanted increased market coverage in central Illinois, so we’ve been looking at this for about a year,” Oakes said. “There’s been a lot of consolidation and regionalization in the industry, and that has presented us with an opportunity.”

A swooning economy offers unique opportunities for retailers with a solid balance sheet, said Richard Feinberg, Purdue University professor of consumer sciences and retailing. “This is the time for a company with a strong ledger to come in and acquire market share, and really be poised for serious growth when the market takes off again in two or three years.”

Despite the struggling economy, Oakes said his company has continued to grow sales—about 3.5 percent in recent years—and he’s confident Business Furniture will be able to attract customers in its new markets.

Purdue’s Feinberg said the company’s ability to secure financing for such an expansion is a sign of its overall strength. The expansion will cost Business Furniture “several million dollars over the next five years,” Oakes said, adding that the capital for the move came from the company’s own profits and its existing line of credit.

Business Furniture did not request or receive any tax incentives to expand into Illinois and Iowa, Oakes said.

The company derives about one-third of its revenue from business offices, one-third from the education sector, and one-third from health care facilities, Oakes said.

“We chase white-collar markets where there are a lot of office workers,” he said. “And we think these new markets will be good ones for us to grow in.”

Oakes is using his facility in the Bloomington-Normal market for a unique set-up. Instead of a traditional showroom, Business Furniture will have a 7,000-square-foot facility outfitted with office furniture and built-in technological features that not-for-profits can use for meetings at no charge and for-profit businesses can rent.

The facility, Oakes said, is a way to support the not-for-profit community while showcasing his company’s goods to business executives who occupy not-for-profit board positions.•
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.

ADVERTISEMENT