Early last month, Interphase Interiors, the exclusive Haworth dealer in West and Northern Michigan, was named one of the 2008 Haworth President’s Circle Award winners. One reason for winning the award was the company’s sales achievements — attaining the highest percentage of quota of any dealer in North America.
One thing that sets Interphase apart is its green focus. Owner Randy DeBoer was the first Michigan furniture dealer/owner to become LEED certified. But for DeBoer, achieving LEED accreditation wasn’t a destination; it’s just a starting point when it comes to green thinking.
“It’s really about the space — really maximizing the objectives of the customers, and part of that today is most customers are looking for creating a more sustainable environment,” said DeBoer. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is a tree hugger. But ultimately, if you’re doing the right thing for your people, the planet and the business is going to be more profitable too.”
With his undergraduate degree in forest resources, sustainable practices have always been close to DeBoer’s heart. He became a leader in his field after receiving his LEED accreditation five years ago, but said that clients can implement sustainable practices that aren’t necessarily LEED.
“Some of the decisions customers can make to make a truly adaptable and flexible space can go well beyond LEED points,” he said. “One of the things that we really stress with our customers is to create an adaptable workspace. Most of the walls in your space should be moveable to change and adapt to your business. Every business is alive and moving and changing all the time.
“As soon as you put fixed walls in an environment, you now have limited your flexibility. What you hoped was an asset eventually becomes a liability, because it doesn’t fit the way you’re doing business.”
While moveable walls do not add LEED points, they do add to the sustainability of a space, said DeBoer, noting that approximately one third of landfill waste is from construction materials.
Early on, DeBoer saw sustainability as more than just a movement.
“We saw it as an important change in the way facilities will be constructed in the future,” said DeBoer. “It was important for us to be able to give our customers the insight and guidance in the decisions they are going to make regarding their interiors.”
DeBoer said his LEED accreditation helps in understanding objectives, both for Interphase and its clients.
“It does give us insight and knowledge to understand what they’re talking about when they share their objectives to have a LEED facility,” he said. “An example was we did a lot of work in the Lemmen-Holton Cancer Pavilion for Spectrum. Being a LEED facility, there were some very specific requirements regarding the installation of the furniture — how the packaging had to be disposed of, handling of the products. It was easier for our team to understand the reasons behind that.”
DeBoer gives credit for winning the Haworth President’s Award to his team’s customer service and their knowledge of sustainable practices.
“I really feel we have the best people in the industry,” said DeBoer. “To be able to receive recognition from our main manufacturer is really nice. They deserve it.”