Furniture firm takes ‘3-legged stool’ approach to leadership –

CHICAGO — Furniture-maker izzy+ has gone through some leadership changes since founder Chuck Saylor retired in 2014.

Kevin Kuske, former general manager of Steelcase’s Turnstone brand, was brought in as Saylor’s successor.

He left in August after two years on the job to become president of Grand Rapids-based Genesis Seating, Davidson Plyforms and Grand River Polishing, a division of Leggett and Platt, and a major supplier of the office furniture industry.

Since then, the company has assembled a trio of executives to oversee the Spring Lake company. The team is made up of Jeff Vredevoogd, vice president of sales and marketing; Scott Carpenter, vice president of operations and Krista Hurst, vice president of finance and administration.

All report to Tom Rizzi, chief operating officer of JSJ Corp., parent company of izzy+. The Grand Haven manufacturer supplies the automotive and furniture industries.

Vredevoogd compares the new leadership trinity to a three-legged stool.

“We’re putting the customer in the middle and three legs to support it,” said Vredevoogd, giving an interview this week in the company’s 11th floor showroom in Merchandise Mart during NeoCon.

Carpenter is a former vice president of global supply chain management at Grand Haven-based GHSP, an auto supplier and a division of JSJ. Hurst was previously a controller at izzy+.

Vredevoogd is a 34-year veteran of the office furniture industry. His background includes 21 years at Steelcase in various sales and marketing roles, and the last 12 years at Herman Miller, where he held a number of positions, including leading the education team. He came on board in January, the last to join the izzy+ leadership team.

“I think it’s a sign that he we are placing more focus on people across the business,” said Vredevoogd, of the new structure.

The firm has 135 people between its Spring Lake headquarters and seating factory in Middlebury, Ind. Products are sold through 75 sale representatives across the country, who hawk izzy+ furniture along with other products from other companies.

The business is growing, Vredevoogd said.

During the three-day trade show that wrapped up June 14, izzy+ unveiled Eli, a new height adjustable table comes in different shapes including a trapezoid top and a six top height. The latter is intended for use as a school conference table or a maker space.

“What has been a sweet spot for us has been the education space, but we are starting to see more applications out there,” said Vredevoogd. “It feels like there is more in store.”


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