Furniture components supplier doubles space


Company culture is centered on celebrating success, so when significant achievements are reached, a gong is rung. Courtesy LOGICDATA

A maker of electronic and mechatronic systems for the furniture industry has moved into a new North American headquarters in Kentwood that is more than double the size of its former space.

Deutschlandsberg, Austria-based LOGICDATA is moving into the region’s new HQ at 5300 Broadmoor Ave. SE on May 3.

Its previous, 20,000-square-foot facility opened at 1525 Gezon Pkwy. SW in Wyoming in 2011. LOGICDATA expanded in that building for eight years until it had no more room to grow.

Founded in 1997 by Walter Koch — an engineer turned entrepreneur who is no relation to the American Koch brothers — LOGICDATA also has locations in Slovenia, Croatia and China and is a global supplier to the office and residential furniture markets.

LOGICDATA designs and creates electronic and mechatronic components for height-adjustable work stations in the office furniture industry, as well as components for the home furniture industry, especially beds.

Parts include control boxes, drives, actuators for elevating and lowering tables, handsets, connectivity and apps, and other accessories.

Stefan Knappitsch, president of LOGICDATA North America, took the Business Journal on a tour of the new 50,000-square-foot facility on Broadmoor, which will house office, warehouse and distribution space, a large staff kitchen and break area, and a lecture hall where on-site employees or other company representatives can teach each other new skills.

Employees who will be housed at the facility initially include workers in quality assurance, account management, business development, field application engineering, human resources, marketing and IT.

LOGICDATA plans to hire additional quality engineers, account managers and employees for other roles as it grows to fill out the space.

Knappitsch said the research and development, design and production of LOGICDATA components is done mainly in Austria, where he is originally from.

But it makes sense for the company’s warehouse and distribution operation to be in West Michigan, the steel office furniture capital of the U.S.

The company is a supplier to at least one “large West Michigan office furniture manufacturer”; Knappitsch did not specify which.

Five years ago, before beginning his career at LOGICDATA, Knappitsch worked for a global supplier of conveyor belts for distribution centers. He said he was fascinated to learn how people could translate schematics on a blueprint into miles of conveyor belts packed into one facility like strands of DNA woven throughout the human body. The math and big-picture thinking it takes to construct and install parts to scale like that is something that sticks with him.

He has used those skills since transferring to LOGICDATA and specifically the North American HQ, where introducing product all over the continent takes a fair amount of high-level systems thinking.

Knappitsch said the culture at LOGICDATA is one of the best things about working there.

“Everything is about celebrating,” he said. “And what is really unique, especially for LOGICDATA — and this I never had before in a different company — is that we have a gong. This is a ceremony where once we achieve something huge, we hit the gong and celebrate together. This was mainly developed from our headquarters, and this we still keep alive everywhere.”

He said another part of the company culture is collaboration, from dedicated “fancy and nice” coworking spaces at the Austria headquarters to open-plan office space that will soon be populated in the new Grand Rapids facility.

In Austria, LOGICDATA created a “future lab,” where engineers who have an idea not related to their current workload can create blueprints, bring them to the lab and prototype the products on mills and 3D printers — and LOGICDATA just might pick up the idea and run with it. It’s called the da Vinci Lab.

The main headquarters also has napping rooms — for people to recharge their brains after having good ideas — a library and a big lecture hall, which the multipurpose space at the Broadmoor facility is intended to replicate.

“This means once an employee is good in one portion and he wants to transfer his knowledge to some other people, he can do it,” Knappitsch said. “He goes down to our HR team and says, ‘I want to be a lecturer; I want to train someone on this,’ then he can do it.”

Knappitsch said it’s important for everyone who works at LOGICDATA to know about and connect to founder Koch’s written “chartered” principals, a set of 10 values that are presented to employees after they get hired that will guide how they do business together.

“We are strongly connected to each other, and this makes LOGICDATA (growing) as it is right now,” Knappitsch said. “We also come together once a year at the headquarters — everyone — to strengthen this and to have this common sense and this common agreement as one global team.”

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