From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Steelcase Inc.
Traded as NYSESCS
Industry Furniture
Founded March 16, 1912
Headquarters Flag of the United States.svg Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Products Comprehensive portfolio of products and services for workplaces (business, healthcare, and education)

Steelcase Inc. is a global company headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States that develops and manufactures furniture, interior architecture, and technology products and services for corporate offices. Through its brands, the company also creates products for small businesses, healthcare, and higher education settings, as well as environments for mobile workers. Steelcase has over 80 locations in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, and over 11,000 employees worldwide.[1] The company sells its products and services worldwide, primarily through more than 650 independent and company-owned dealers, and markets through several retail and web-based channels.

Steelcase has been recognized for its future-focused research into work, workers and workplaces,[2] and commitment to sustainability. In 2001, Steelcase’s wood furniture factory became the world’s first manufacturing plant to receive LEED Certification for Environmental Excellence by the U.S. Green Building Council. The company also has the largest portfolio of products to receive McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry’s Cradle-to-Cradle certification for sustainable products. In 2012, 2013, and 2014 Steelcase was recognized as one of FORTUNE magazine's "Most Admired Companies."[3]

Company History[edit]

The pyramid-shaped Steelcase Corporate Development Center near Grand Rapids, Michigan opened in 1989. Built at a cost of $111 million, it was sold for $7.5 million in 2014. Coord.: 42°51′08″N 85°33′36″W / 42.852184°N 85.560107°W / 42.852184; -85.560107

Steelcase was founded by Peter M. Wege with the support of 11 additional investors on March 16, 1912 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as The Metal Office Furniture Company. Specializing in file cabinets and safes, the company established its first location—a factory and office building—at 1491 South Division Avenue SE.

In 1914 The Metal Office Furniture Company received its first patent for manufacturing a fireproof steel wastebasket, branded the "Victor." Since then, the company has been granted more than 1,300 patents.[4] By the end of its first full year of operation, the company had made $76,000 in sales; its reported revenue for FY 2013 was $2.9 billion.[5]

In 1954 The Metal Office Furniture Company changed its name to Steelcase, after the trademark "Steelcase Business Equipment" coined in 1921 to emphasize the durability of the company's file cabinets. Three years later, due to increased product demand and subsequent facilities outgrowth, Steelcase moved to 1050 36th Street SE. At the time, steel was cut here and sent to three other plants in Grand Rapids: the Desk Plant (at Century and Hall), the File Plant (Division Ave. near Garden), and the Chair Plant (Hall and Steele). Today Steelcase operates 26 manufacturing facilities worldwide.

During the early 1980s, then-Chairman and CEO Robert Pew spearheaded the purchase of hundreds of artworks for a new corporate art program in tandem with the planning and construction of the Steelcase Corporate Headquarters (now Steelcase Global Headquarters) located at 901 44th Street. Today works of art from the collection are displayed in Steelcase offices worldwide. Highlights include James Rosati’s Ode IV, Dale Chihuly’s Steelcase Chandelier, and Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species series.

In 1996, Steelcase was found at fault in a patent infringement suit brought against them by Haworth, Inc., another furniture company. Steelcase was ordered to pay $211.5 million in damages and interest, thus ending a 17-year dispute with Haworth.[6]

Steelcase has been a publicly held company since February 18, 1998,[7] with a large portion of its stock held by members of three founding families: those of Peter M. Wege, Walter D. Idema and David D. Hunting.

Throughout the company’s 102-year history, only nine men have held the title of Chief Executive Officer, with Peter M. Wege holding the longest term at 29 years (from 1914-1943). James P. Hackett, who joined the company in 1981, served as president and CEO from 1994 to 2014. In March 2014, former COO James Keane, a 16-year veteran of Steelcase, officially succeeded Hackett.[8]

Milestones and Innovations[edit]

  • 2013 - Gesture seating, the first chair marketed to adapt to changing postures, is introduced.[9] The chair accommodates people when slouching, leaning back, or curling up while using mobile technology.
  • March 16, 2012 - Steelcase launches a yearlong 100th anniversary celebration centered on a project called "100 Dreams. 100 Minds. 100 Years.", engaging people worldwide to envision the century ahead.
  • 2011 - Steelcase Global Headquarters opens the indoor/outdoor WorkCafé, an innovative "third place" displaying the company’s latest insights about changing work patterns.[10]
  • 2010 - The node® chair, an active learning classroom solution enabling mobility and reconfiguration for collaboration or individual study, launches.[11] The product is a collaboration between Steelcase and IDEO.
  • 2009 - Steelcase launches c:scape™ and media:scape™, collaborative solutions designed to help people connect more easily with each other and with technology in increasingly team-focused environments.
  • 2008 - Responding to the blurred distinction between office and home as workplace, Steelcase launches premium brand Coalesse. The brand signifies a merger of three Steelcase-owned companies: Brayton, Metro and Vecta.
  • 2008 - Steelcase announces a long-term financial commitment to a U.S. wind farm, including the purchase of all power produced for at least five years—the first time a corporation has made an up-front commitment to purchase all renewable energy credits from a U.S. wind farm in the financing stage.
  • 2007 - Steelcase acquires the Ultra Group, a leading furniture manufacturer in China.
  • 2006 - Nurture® by Steelcase, a company dedicated to providing user-centered solutions in healthcare, launches. Nurture delivers researchdriven, holistic solutions focused on both product and space.[12]
  • 2004 - Steelcase introduces the Think Chair, the first product to receive Cradle to Cradle certificationCM from McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC).
  • 2003 - The Steelcase WorkSpace Futures Group is formed to intensify research into various types of work settings.
  • 2001 - Steelcase acquires PolyVision® in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, setting the stage for the development of user-centered technology offerings integrated with architecture and furniture.[13]
  • 1999 - "Leap seating" is introduced with patented "LiveBack" technology that incorporates biomimicry of the human spine for superior support.
  • 1996 - Steelcase makes an equity investment in IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm noted for its human-centered, design-based approach to product development. A buy-back program is completed in 2010.[14]
  • 1996 - The first Steelcase WorkLife Center opens in the heart of Manhattan, New York City, USA. The space is designed to display workplace insights and solutions, not just products. Subsequent WorkLife spaces open around the world.
  • 1993 - Turnstone® is founded as a subsidiary of Steelcase to meet the needs of small business and home office workers.
  • 1990 - Details® is founded in New York City and becomes part of the Steelcase Design Partnership®. The Articulating Keyboard Support designed by ID Two in San Francisco, CA and the Ios Task Light are just two of the brand’s many products.
  • 1987 - The Steelcase Design Partnership® is formed, comprising acquisitions that give Steelcase a broader product portfolio. Member companies include: Atelier International, Brayton International, DesignTex® Fabrics, Details®, Metropolitan Furniture Corp., Stow & Davis Furniture Co. and Vecta Contract.
  • 1987 - Frank Lloyd Wright’s Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, MI, USA opens to the public after a full restoration by Steelcase based on extensive research of historic photos, drawings and documents.
  • 1986 - One of the first ergonomically designed chairs, Sensor®, is introduced at NeoCon Chicago. Developed in collaboration with West German designer Wolfgang Müller-Deisig, this office “living” chair is made available in three sizes to support different body types.
  • 1980s – In conjunction with the planning and construction of the Steelcase Corporate Headquarters, Chairman and CEO Robert Pew spearheads the purchase of hundreds of works of art for a new corporate art program. Today works of art from the collection are displayed in the company’s offices worldwide.
  • 1978 - The Steelcase spectrum logo is introduced. The rainbow of letters in modern styling represents the wide range of colors offered in Steelcase furniture.[15]
  • 1974 - In a 50% joint venture agreement with Strafor-Facom, Steelcase forms Steelcase/ Strafor S.A. The agreement includes manufacturing facilities and provides access to European and North African markets.
  • 1973 - Steelcase enters the Asian Market in a joint venture with Kurogane Kosakusho that includes manufacturing facilities and marketing facilities in Tokyo and Osaka.
  • 1973 - Series 9000®, a flexible workspace system composed of panels and work surfaces, is launched by Steelcase and subsequently becomes the world’s leading systems furniture line.
  • 1973 - Steelcase fills the largest single order in the industry: 43,565 pieces of furniture in 400 truckloads for Chicago's Sears Tower (now Willis Tower).
  • 1961 - Steelcase starts using acrylic paints on products, a first within the industry. A water-based paint, acrylic is more environmentally friendly than the oil-based paints previously used on the company’s lines.
  • 1954 - Steelcase Canada Ltd., the first Steelcase operation outside of the United States, is founded.
  • 1953 - Metal Office Furniture Co. introduces color to office furniture to make offices more inspiring. Before then, office furniture traditionally came in military colors such as battleship grey.
  • 1951 – The Steelcase Foundation is established as a charitable grant-making institution, subsequently evolving into a catalyst for partnerships and problem solving across the public and private sectors.
  • 1946 - Metal Office Furniture Co. introduces “Multiple 15”, a postwar desk that has been in design since 1942. Designed on 15-inch dimensions, Multiple 15 allows for better space planning on open offices. By 1960 it becomes a universal standard in the industry.
  • 1940s - During World War II, all steel furniture manufacturing for commercial use is discontinued. Metal Office Furniture Co. continues to produce shipboard furniture, including the folding mess table used aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63) for the signing of the treaty that ended the war.
  • 1930s - The company partners with Frank Lloyd Wright to create a collection of task-oriented office furniture for the SC Johnson & Son building (Johnson Wax Headquarters) in Racine, Wisconsin, USA, including several desk variations still in use today.
  • 1921 - The Steelcase brand is born when Turner Advertising in Chicago promotes the Steelcase® trademark to emphasize the durability of Metal Office Furniture Co. products and adds the advertising tagline, “Found Where Business Succeeds.”
  • 1918 - P. M. Wege and Metal Office Furniture Co. receive a patent for a manufacturing process using U-channel construction, which makes sheet steel stronger yet lighter in weight.
  • March 16, 1912 - The Metal Office Furniture Company is incorporated.


  1. ^ "A look into Steelcase - 100 years and counting". Metropolis (Steelcase Issue): G2. April 2012. 
  2. ^ Hagerty, James (August 7, 2012). "Office Furniture in the Age of Smartphones". The Wall Street Journal. 
  3. ^ "World's Most Admired Companies 2014". FORTUNE Magazine. 
  4. ^ "Steelcase Patents List". Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "Steelcase Invests in New Indian Production Facility". Global Trade Magazine. 
  6. ^ "$211.5 Million Award in Patent Lawsuit". The New York Times. 1996-12-31. 
  7. ^ "Media Advisory - Public Stock Offering". Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Steelcase announces longtime CEO Jim Hackett's successor". 10 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Singerman, Deborah (February 25, 2014). "Are you sitting comfortably?". Architecture & Design. 
  10. ^ Wilk, Deborah (February 2, 2012). "Eat, Work, Love". Interior Design. 
  11. ^ "Steelcase Introduces New Seating Solutions at NeoCon2010". 14 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Steelcase Inc. Launches Healthcare Focused Organization". 1 May 2006. 
  13. ^ "Steelcase Completes Acquisition of Polyvision Corporation". 14 November 2001. 
  14. ^ "Investment in IDEO". 
  15. ^ "Spectrum Logo Introduced".