When an Atlanta architecture client faced the prospect of spending $40,000 to trash $1.2 million of office furniture, JJ Jerman instead found a buyer. This eliminated disposal costs and kept waste out of landfills.
He then founded Office Furniture Warehouse (OFW) in Cleveland, Tennessee after relocating to the Chattanooga area to spend more time with his now wife and business partner Beverly.
From a gas station to the Hamilton County INCubator to today’s Stuart Street location, 10 years later Office Furniture Warehouse is a one-stop shop for responding to growth, change and relocation, including new divisions of the company:
- OFW+Move supports office moves with sustainable hard shell plastic crates that can last 17 years
- My Chair Doctor focuses on refurbished seating, extending the life of many office chairs by 10 to 15 years at 20 percent of replacement cost
- OFW+Med helps health care organizations acquire and refurbish pre-owned clinical furniture, including reupholstering exam tables and waiting room seating
Office Furniture Warehouse’s commitment to community and sustainability guides its growth. Jerman says his team listens to clients and closes gaps for businesses.
“We're a solutions provider. We're not just trying to sell. We want to be your partner,” Jerman says. “We’re unique with our broad range of clients. We do medical, office, but we also sell used furniture, re-manufactured furniture and new furniture, and we do services like office moves, re-upholstery, storage. Those were client driven. We grew organically. If a client says, ‘Hey, Can you fix this?’ A good entrepreneur's always going to say yes.”
For example, My Chair Doctor evolved when OFW staff noticed most organizations have a ‘chair graveyard’ − somewhere in the office to shove chairs with issues. OFW can transform most of them by cannibalizing parts from the few that are too far gone for repair.
OFW is no stranger to the Small Business Awards. They first won in 2014 in the smallest category of 1-20 employees. Five years later, they earned this year’s prize in the next category up − 21-50 employees.
Jerman’s expert advice for launching your business idea?
“Don't tell your friends and family, because they're the first people who are going to discourage you from doing it,” he says. “Secondly, if you have a business idea, take it somewhere like CO.LAB or the INCubator before you've put a lot of resources into it to make sure it's scalable and there's a market for it.”