GR Firm Takes Top NeoCon Honors

    COMSTOCK PARK — Nucraft Furniture Co. is launching a new line of executive office furniture and expanding its place in the industry by drawing one of the brightest spotlights it could have hoped for — the top award at NeoCon.

    Nucraft’s Origin furniture system won the prestigious Best of Competition honors in the Best of NeoCon design competition held during the office furniture industry’s annual trade show this month in Chicago.

    Judges credited Origin — designed specifically for business executives who use a large variety of electronic equipment in their offices — for “creating union between technology and the executive user.”

    According to President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Bockheim, taking the top award at NeoCon should help Nucraft earn attention from the architectural and interior design community when Origin is brought to market this fall.

    The office system also won a Gold Award in the furniture systems category.

    “It’s really putting Nucraft on the map. It just gets them interested in wanting to know about Nucraft and Nucraft products,” Bockheim said. “We feel great about it.”

    Nucraft spent 18 months developing Origin, a product line that marks the Comstock Park-based company’s entrance in the executive office category.

    The 58-year-old, family-owned firm has primarily focused on producing wood furniture for common areas of an office — tables, consoles and benches for use in settings such as conference rooms, lobbies and corridors.

    Nucraft’s decision to enter the executive office market is tri-fold, Bockheim said. The company needed a new market to penetrate to help it grow at a time when sales growth has been flattening out. It had the manufacturing capacity for additional product lines, and “we had a good idea for a product,” he said.

    That product is best described as a hybrid that Nucraft calls a “casegoods system,” which uses storage units, towers, credenzas, and mobile and powered pedestals. The system includes numerous electrical connections and data ports to plug in computers.

    Nucraft plans to target the office system toward today’s “high-tech savvy” executives whose desks are filled with wireless telephones, laptop computers, docking ports, computer monitors, PDAs, printers and digital scanners, Bockheim said.

    “It’s for somebody who has all the technology and gadgets and likes to change them out,” Bockheim said.

    The Origin line is a significant product introduction for Nucraft because it will enable the company to take on a greater degree of responsibility for furnishing an office beyond the common areas that have been the company’s niche.

    Nucraft’s present product lines have traditionally “filled in around the edges and filled in around larger projects,” Bockheim said.

    Nucraft has been held out of large office projects in the past because it didn’t have a large enough product portfolio, Bockheim said.

    “It’s fairly significant in the opportunity it offers us,” he said.

    Nucraft employs about 225 people and recorded 2001 sales of around $25 million, experiencing a modest 2 percent revenue decline as the overall industry fell into a tailspin during the recession. The company has grown about 15 percent a year in recent years and is on track to grow sales about 20 percent in 2002.

    The goal is to eventually grow sales to $45 million to $50 million annually in the coming years, Bockheim said.

    Nucraft operates a 140,000 square foot manufacturing plant that, according to the company’s Web site, employs state-of-the-art computerized equipment from the United States, Germany, and Italy.

    Computerization is particularly important to the firm in that it enables the company to match more than 1,500 finishes.

    The firm expanded its operation in 1997 with the addition of a 25,000 square foot veneer plant that Nucraft says gives it tighter control over lead-times and quality of raw materials and components.

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