Robert Krasa, a former vice president at Dow Corning Corp., recently joined Haworth as vice president and general manager of the company’s North American Contract Furniture sector. He’s responsible for strategic initiatives within the sector and answers directly to Haworth President and Chief Executive Officer Gerald Johanneson.
Krasa’s appointment allows Johanneson to devote more time to Haworth’s interests in Europe and the Asian-Pacific Rim, said Beth Parenteau, the company’s manager of corporate communications.
Haworth has invested heavily in expanding its global presence in recent years, particularly in Europe, where it has acquired six furniture makers. While North American sales are the “lion’s share of our business,” Haworth wants to expand further internationally and become even more of a global company, Parenteau said.
“It’s part of a long-term strategy. To remain competitive and to grow, we will continue to devote the company to expanding markets,” Parenteau said. “We feel we really needed to have a leader focused on that (global markets) and a leader focused at home concentrating on our core markets.”
Krasa most recently was vice president for the global semiconductor and silicone intermediates business at Midland-based Dow Corning, where he also served on the corporate executive committee. He adds “deep expertise in strategic management” to Haworth’s expanded executive team, Johanneson said.
“As Haworth concentrates on defining and expanding our products, services and resources globally, we wanted a leader who could focus on our core North American business of creating effective workplace solutions,” Johanneson said.
The Holland-based Haworth posted 2000 sales of $2.06 billion and operates in more than 120 nations worldwide. The privately held Haworth does not disclose specific sales figures for domestic and international business units, although the company is generally believed to generate a larger share of its overall corporate sales internationally than its competitors.
Overall, the North American office furniture industry has traditionally generated a small percentage of annual revenues from international sales.
North American-based office furniture manufacturers exported $442 million in 2000, about 3.3 percent of the total $13.3 billion in industrywide sales. That figure, however, does not include international sales that firms generated from operations based overseas.
Of Haworth’s chief competitors, Herman Miller Inc. generates about 15 percent of its annual revenues from international sales. About 19 percent of the furniture revenues Steelcase Inc. has generated so far this year have come from international sales.