Quaeris (QWHERE US) is Latin for “to seek”, is an organization of West Michigan employers and non-profit member groups (think chamber of commerce’s) which promote West Michigan as an employment destination and provide relocation support to professionals and their families. When Quaeris made its public launch in early 2010, the first thing I thought was “Damn, why didn’t they have this program around when I relocated here back in 2005.” The second thing was how interesting it is to see all these companies even competitors band together for this kind of initiative. To me this arrangement seemed extremely unique, just take a look at the list of companies involved (check out the costs to join).
- Blue Cross & Blue Shield
- Davenport University
- Grand Valley State University
- Herman Miller
- Highland Group
- MSU College of Human Medicine
- Powell Relocation Group
- Priority Health
- Progressive AE
- SDI Consulting
- Spectrum Health
- Trinity Health West Michigan
- Van Andel Institute
- Warner Norcross & Judd
- West Michigan Relocation Specialists
- Wolverine World Wide
You have competitors in a number of markets including office workspace, law firms, medical, and healthcare insurance. But what I also wanted to find out if there are any more co-company arrangements like Quaeris out there in different regions. Trust me this was crazy difficult to find, go ahead and you try searching, it’s impossible. Well through my awesome web sleuthing I have found this, FUEL Milwaukee. FUEL Milwaukee was developed for the same reasons as Quaeris “talent attraction and retention”. Right now FUEL has about 60 employer members. What is interesting about FUEL is that it started out as a Young Professionals group (similar to area GRYP and HYP) but morphed with the support of various regional economic groups to become both a membership organization for professionals and for companies as well.
Anyways back to Quaeris, I guess I should not be surprised that these companies are working together for the betterment of the region after all many of them play together already. Examples like the Intern Olympics (see my post), or the GRid 70 design hub (which apparently only Raleigh and Austin have something similar) featuring Wolverine, Meijer, Amway, and Steelcase, show regional collaboration at work.
The one marketing angle I want to mention about Quaeris is the name. So besides the sophomoric humor some may find in the word Quaeris, my main issue is that it’s so non-descriptive. It does nothing to signify what region this organization promotes. I just question how prospective talents outside of West Michigan become aware of this organization. What exactly do you Google to find out about Quaeris? I tried a couple of quick searches on “West Michigan Business” , “West Michigan Companies”, “West Michigan Relocation” and Quaeris did not pop up on the first page of the search. I do not have a good answer for how to solve this because I am not sure that something like “West Michigan Area Companies Uniting for Attracting Talent and Giving Resources to Their Spouses so That they are More Comfortable with Moving to West Michigan Organization” or WMACUATGRTSTTMCMWMO might just be a little too verbose. Perhaps a simple Quaeris West Michigan would be enough. What are your thoughts on the name or other suggestions?
So please help me if you know of any other regional organizations which feature companies working together to bring awareness and employee talent to their area, let me know. I would love to dig into this deeper.
Posted in Manufacturing, Marketing, New, West Michigan
Tagged amway, Brand, Grand Rapids, Haworth, Herman Miller, Holland, job posting, Logos, Marketing, Meijer, Only in West Michigan, Perrigo, Steelcase, unfortunate name, Wolverine World Wide, Zeeland
Hard to believe but yes, there are plenty of West Michigan companies besides Steelcase, Herman Miller, and Haworth who will be participating in this year’s NeoCon show on June 14 through the 16th in Chicago. It always surprises me how one tradeshow in Chicago, year in and year out gets the local West Michigan media into a frenzy about office furniture. I guess it makes sense. According to my informal research through LinkedIn Companies Function – Haworth, Herman Miller, and Steelcase all have over 500+ employees in West Michigan, so 1,500+ total, plus their families, retirees, and the number of people interested in these companies, the list goes on and on.
But I am here to shed some light on the other players in the furniture industry here in West Michigan, that are participating in NeoCon, and I was quite shocked by the size of the list. Here we go:
- 2/90 Sign Systems – Grand Rapids – Sign design, wayfinding, manufacturing of both interior and exterior signs and sign systems, project management, installation and post-installation maintenance
- American Seating – Grand Rapids – Seating from auditorium to stadium to office to education and transportation
- BIFMA International – Grand Rapids – A not-for-profit organization that leads, advocates, informs and develops standards for the North American office and institutional furniture industry
- Compatico – Grand Rapids – Manufactures and supplies new office furniture systems and parts
- Configura – Grand Rapids – HQ in Sweeden, with their US location in Grand Rapids, provides software solutions Commercial furniture
- Flexible Montisa – Plainwell – Features file, storage, and furniture product offerings to facilitate innovative solutions for corporate, educational, and medical institutions.
- FreshFolios – Byron Center – Pre-designed portfolio websites for photographers, interior designers, architects, artists and all members of the creative community who rely on a well sorted portfolio to display their work
- Gibraltar – Zeeland – Metal manufacturing company serving the office, institutional, and hospitality furniture industries
- Gill Industries – Grand Rapids – A full service supplier of engineered, mechanical assemblies to a wide variety of markets such as automotive, furniture and multi-use vehicle markets
- Grand Rapids Chair Company – Grand Rapids – Besides chairs, they also provide tables for commercial environments
- Great Openings – Ludington -Provider of quality metal filing and storage products to the office furniture industry
- Gross Stabil Corp -Coldwater – Manufacturer of casters, bases, and gas cylinders for office chairs
- GT Industries – Byron Center – Foam products, lots and lots of foam based products
- Guilford of Maine – Grand Rapids – Surprisingly they are headquartered in Grand Rapids, they are a textile provider
- Izzy+ – Spring Lake – Officer furniture provider for a variety of industries
- Knu Healthcare – Zeeland – Manufacturer of healthcare furniture, and part of Industrial Woodworking Corporation
- Leland International – Grand Rapids – Contemporary seating and tables manufacturer whose products are built to order and provide project designers the opportunity to customize features such as color, finish, trim, size and cut out design
- Light Corporation – Grand Haven – Design and manufacture fluorescent task lights and ambient light fixtures for office furniture industry and high bay fluorescent fixtures for industry, gymnasiums and retail.
- Nucraft – Comstock Park – Design and manufacture furnishings for conference rooms, lobby and reception areas, private offices, and training areas
- Pulse Design – Grand Rapids – Manufacturer of a desktop connection system with touch-control electronics to hide or reveal the unit on a desk
- Sparkeology – Holland – New line of office furniture developed by Worden in collaboration with Via Design and Square One Design. The products target locations are public buildings’ lobbies and lounges, even libraries because of their flexibility and mobility, and being able to be used in multiple functions and configurations. Plus based on their twitter feed looks like they are going to give away a lot of loot bags. Wonder what is inside- anyone want to get me one?
- Stryker – Kalamazoo – This was an odd one but looks like they are providing some furniture solutions for the healthcare industry
- Symbiote, Inc.- Zeeland – Manufactures laboratory and technical furniture systems emphasizing custom product solutions, looks like they feature ergonomic solutions
- Trendway – Holland – Not officially at NeoCon but they will have something going on in their showroom at the merch. mart. Office furniture manufacture famous for their On Time guarantee.
- VanerumStelter – Grand Rapids – Provider of products and services for their interior environments. Chairs, desks, tables, workstations for all levels of education and for office environments.
- Workstuff – Grand Rapids – Provider of adjustable keyboard systems and ergonomic workplace solutions.
So what do you think? I am really surprised by the number of companies from Zeeland representing. Anyways this just goes to show that there are plenty others in West Michigan besides the Big 3 who are part of the office furniture business (even though some of these companies are not directly related to the industry).
Additionally, here is a short list of other players in the furniture industry who are not attending NeoCon. Do you have any more companies to add to the list?
- Avian Boards – Grand Rapids – Manufacturer of lightweight board to be used for a variety of applications
- Charter House Innovations – Holland – A seating and decor company with a wide range of solutions for a variety of industries. Big focus on sustainability.
- OMT Vehyl – Holland – The result of a merger of two German companies to provide products for the office furniture industry
- RT London – Grand Rapids – Has a emphasis on furniture for the education segment with learning and dorm room solutions
- Worden – Holland – Maker of furniture for the educational and library markets, also behind Sparkeology.
Posted in Manufacturing, West Michigan
Tagged Chicago, Furniture, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Haworth, Herman Miller, Holland, Kalamazoo, Media, Michigan, Only in West Michigan, Steelcase, West Michigan Made, Zeeland
Can West Michigan companies host fun activities for their employees? Thinking back on the things that my company does there are a few, like an occasional summer picnic, game room which is “lightly used” and our most recent chili cook-off/Halloween event. The chili cook-off was also held in conjunction with Halloween costume contest so your department could develop a theme around your chili entry. Despite our contest not being fair and clearly having an inferior chili win the employee vote (need to think of some guidelines to prevent ballot stuffing next year), it was a good time, and it seems that everyone had enjoyed themselves.
So what other fun things are companies doing for their employees? Back in August, six local West Michigan companies (Amway, Gordon Food Service, Meijer, Perrigo, Steelcase, and Wolverine World Wide) put together the West Michigan Intern Olympics, where 160 interns competed for their employers, to determine which company hires the most athletic interns! Well not quite but they do get a trophy, and at least they get a small friendly rivalry going between the companies to keep things interesting. For internal purposes, I am sure it is a nice little team building exercise and unifier. I just want to know how they came up with this idea. Perhaps next year they can invite Herman Miller and Haworth to participate and see how competitive they get with each other and with Steelcase. Anyone reading who participated in the Intern Olympics (you better comment)?
So what fun things does your company do or what have you heard that those other companies do behind their walls? Let’s show those internet startups (pre-bubble) area how West Michigan represents!