Peter Gaslow, President and CEO of Empire Office, Inc., a leading provider of curated furniture & interior solutions for commercial spaces, today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire DeKalb Office Environments, Inc., establishing its local presence in Atlanta and Birmingham. The transaction will close on January 1, 2022, at which point, the DeKalb Office name will temporarily transition to DeKalb by Empire Office, along with an accompanying updated logo, website and brand identity.
With a proven 75-year history, Empire Office is a recognized leader achieving a long-standing ranking on the Crain’s New York Business’ list of the Largest Privately Held Companies in the New York area and being named as one of the ‘Best Places to Work’ by the Orlando Business Journal, among others. New York-headquartered Empire Office has grown its physical footprint significantly in recent years, first entering the Florida market in 2009 and expanding further in the state in three other subsequent acquisitions between 2012 and 2015. With the announcement of the DeKalb Office acquisition, Empire Office expands its reach within the Eastern half of the U.S., making it the largest firm of its kind in the country.
DeKalb Office has provided commercial interior solutions since 1952 and is a leader in the Healthcare and Education vertical markets. As the sole Steelcase dealership in Atlanta and Birmingham, the company has worked with approximately half of the Fortune500 companies headquartered in Atlanta. Throughout its history, DeKalb has been committed to supporting the local communities in which it operates since its inception.
“DeKalb has a great reputation in the Atlanta and Birmingham markets,” Gaslow stated. “We believe building on the DeKalb heritage, while leveraging Empire’s experience and broad reach, will enable us to offer next-level services and unparalleled support for the companies located within these markets.”
Since 1984, DeKalb Office has been led by Owner and CEO John Rasper. Under Rasper’s direction, DeKalb has built a reputation for being a creative, knowledgeable, and collaborative partner, providing innovative workplace solutions to a remarkably diverse client base. Throughout his career, John served on the Board of three local Chambers and was the Chairman of the Greater North Fulton Chamber. With the announcement of this acquisition, Rasper is also announcing his official retirement from the contract furniture industry.
“After 48 years in the industry, and 37 leading DeKalb in particular, I want to thank all of my colleagues, staff and business associates with whom I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with over the years,” Rasper said. “With Empire at the helm, I have no doubt there will be great things ahead for our clients and partners in the years to come.”
“As a company, we are thrilled to welcome the DeKalb team into the Empire Office family,” Gaslow said. “John has done an excellent job of steering DeKalb for many years, enabling it to become the successful and respected organization it is today. We wish him all the best as he enjoys a very well-deserved retirement.”
Currently located in Alpharetta, GA and Birmingham, AL, the physical locations of the DeKalb showrooms and warehouses will remain unchanged in the immediate future.
Dear Empire Family,
This year we’re celebrating a big milestone, our 75th anniversary!
Like most small businesses, our story started with modest beginnings. Abraham Gaslow founded Empire Oﬃce Furniture in 1946. Our ﬁrst sale was a desk which we hand-delivered from our oﬃce in downtown Manhattan to our ﬁnancial services client on Wall Street.
Over the last 75 years, we’ve grown and expanded with new locations and additional services. Today, Empire is the largest Steelcase dealer nationwide, with 400+ manufacturers represented and over 400+ employees across the US. We are proud to be ranked as one of Crain’s New York Business’ Largest Privately Owned Companies year after year.
Through it all, our commitment to delivering comprehensive, creative, and cost-eﬀective solutions for our clients has only grown stronger. Today, we’re thankful for our clients who have been at the heart of our company since the beginning, and we thank our team and manufacturer partners for helping to bring our mission to life.
Here’s to the next 75 years together!
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At Empire, we are proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish in our 75 years, but what stands out is the long tenure that we have with our employees. We have some of the best in the business and their consistent dedication and hard work help make us who we are as a company.
We asked some of our seasoned employees to take a walk down memory lane with us and recall some of their favorite memories over the years. Here’s what they had to say.
WHAT IS AN EARLY OR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM OVER THE YEARS?
WHAT WORK ACCOMPLISHMENT ARE YOU ESPECIALLY PROUD OF?
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT WORKING AT EMPIRE?
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AT WORK?
WHAT HAS CHANGED THE MOST ABOUT EMPIRE SINCE YOU STARTED?
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1946 vs. 2021: the two years may have more in common than you may initially think.
In 1946, World War II had just ended the year prior. It was the start of what we would later call the “Baby Boomer” years (1946-1964). Across the country, there was unrest among Americans with frequent labor strikes and protests. Overall, people were ready to get their lives “back to normal” and rebuild after six long years of war and uncertainty.
Today in 2021, that feeling resonates in such a familiar way as we look back at the last year with the global pandemic and subsequent events that followed. While we still find ourselves in the middle of the current health, social justice and economic crises, we are hopeful for a new day just as our founder Abraham Gaslow was in 1946 when he founded Empire Office.
Despite some of those similarities, a lot has changed in the 75 years since Empire Office was founded.
Let us paint a picture of what life was like in the year 1946:
Other Famous Brand Introductions
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The world of hybrid work is here, and it will require brands to reanalyze their workspaces. Leases are becoming shorter, companies are reassessing their physical footprints, and business needs are changing daily. When planning for these workplace changes, one traditional office staple remains in high demand, the need for meeting rooms.
Meeting rooms will always be necessary for workspaces as they are integral for successful team collaboration. But traditional meeting rooms can be expensive; they are a fixed workplace feature and offer little adaptability for brands needing agile spaces that can flex and change as quickly as they do. This is where modular meeting rooms come in.
Modular meeting rooms offer a better way for companies to have the collaboration spaces they need without adding additional construction time, cost, and lack of space flexibility. Made from reconfigurable frames or free-standing pods, modular meeting rooms adapt to meet every brand’s unique and ever-changing needs.
Unlike traditional meeting rooms, modular pods & meeting rooms can be positioned anywhere in your office. They can even be moved to a new location or floor, making them a truly sustainable workplace staple that can grow and change with your brand.
At a fraction of the cost of traditional construction, modular meeting rooms create a space for teams to collaborate successfully without breaking the bank. Their cost-effective price point also makes them attractive for startup brands whose needs will likely grow quickly.
Modular options can be installed in a matter of hours, and they don’t require additional permits and contractors as traditional meetings rooms often do, providing you with a seamless and easy installation experience.
The options are endless with modular meeting rooms. They offer a wide array of finish, configuration, and branding options, making your solution bespoke to your brand. Several modular options also include integrated power solutions that keep your team’s power within reach during collaboration sessions. To make them even more productive, you can add glass or acoustical foam panels to add sound buffering so your teams collaborate without disturbing the rest of the office.
Ready to get modular? Explore our recommendations:
Contact us to learn more and get back to the workplace safely & successfully.
A strategic return-to-office for the world’s workforce will require a change in mindset, approach, behavior, and space. Despite a flurry of ever-changing rules and regulations, employees are ready to get back into the workplace. Business leaders are seeking best practices.
Over the last year, workspaces have been retrofitted with safety in mind. But what comes next? We have some insights on that.
DESIGNING FOR PRODUCTIVITY
Open-plan offices of the past lacked support for employee’s focus. Moving forward, organizations will benefit from creating multimodal spaces that support collaboration and focus work equally.
Post-pandemic workspaces should offer areas for effective team collaboration, heads-down focus work zones, and easy access to tools and resources for employees to stay productive. Privacy pods, workbooths, and modular seating are great product solutions that offer employees a range of work modes.
DESIGNING FOR COMMUNITY
In our remote-working reality, employees are missing their coworkers and the sense of belonging that their workspaces used to provide them. Organizations will need to rethink the purpose of their office from simply a workplace to becoming the infrastructure for building social capital and fostering a sense of purpose and belonging.
As employees return, offices can foster this feeling by offering spaces designed to encourage employee engagement and interaction. Communal areas like cafes, game rooms, and bleacher-style seating meeting spaces provide employees with a gathering place to collaborate with their coworkers and access to a sense of belonging that they were missing while working remotely.
DESIGNING FOR FLEXIBILITY
The pandemic has taught us that companies need to embrace flexibility. The workplaces of the future will utilize multi-use spaces that will support diverse types of activities.
These spaces will use furnishings that easily move to allow settings to expand and contract, supporting distancing needs when necessary and accommodating different-size groups and activities seamlessly. Mixed location teams will collaborate in uninterrupted harmony with integrated technology solutions, like e-meeting rooms, with screens preset for video conferencing.
With a few tweaks like these, offices can morph and change to serve employees’ ever-changing needs and expectations in the post-pandemic work world.
Download our complete guide on “What’s Next In the Workplace” here.
Learn more from Steelcase’s Global Report: Employee expectations have changed. Is your workplace ready?
Empire’s Director of Strategic Partnerships Elizabeth Irizarry co-hosted a special podcast along with special guests Steven Burgos, Senior Associate | Design Director at Gensler Miami, and Randy Carballo, EVP at Blanca Commercial Real Estate, on the topic of The Future of Work, It’s Complicated.
The spirited conversation touched on many interesting topics related to where many of us find ourselves today – navigating the hybrid work environment and what’s to come for the future of offices.
Top of mind for many companies in planning their return to work is a space that enables flexibility and agility. All speakers agreed that in order for companies to transition their workforce back into the office effectively, there needs to be an apparent reason for them to come back, and the space must provide for a specific purpose. The days of going into an office to “punch a timecard” are gone; now, employees are coming in to get something they can’t get at home. Whether it’s meeting with clients, collaborating with coworkers, or participating in a shared experience, the office can still serve a purpose. However, the true intent of the office coming out of this pandemic will be something to continue to watch. Companies must be prepared to make adjustments as needed to best support their employees’ needs.
Other changes include transforming the commercial office to function more as our home offices do. Heads-down time and focused work product improved for many during the pandemic with the ability to work from home. For companies looking to retain that spike in focus and productivity, an open office where all employees sit in a large space all together may not be the answer. Adding focus rooms or nooks can balance out the time spent collaborating amongst coworkers with the quiet, focused time we have become accustomed to at home.
Lastly, the speakers see technology continuing to play a huge role as we transition back to the office. The rise of Zoom was not limited to just the WFH era. As more and more companies roll out their hybrid workforce plans, many predict you’ll see even more need for technology that can connect both virtual and in-person conferencing. In addition, spatial intelligence technology will be even more critical to monitor space usage within the office, enabling companies to make better decisions regarding the design of their space based on actual data.
Overall, there is a greater focus on worker wellness, health and wellbeing after one of the most challenging periods many of us have faced in our lifetimes. Providing employees the freedom to work where they do it best, along with making company-specific decisions on bringing everyone back together, remains a considerable challenge and highlights a paradox in workplace planning that won’t be solved overnight.
As the speakers suggest, there is no “one size fits all” approach, and every company’s needs are very different. The question is not whether we need more or less office space but rather: why are my employees coming into the office? As Steven pointed out, this can be a massive opportunity for companies to impact change within their workforce and create a more productive and innovative environment.
At Empire Office, we are excited to play a role in planning the future of work with our clients and industry partners such as Gensler and Blanca Real Estate. There is no doubt that we will indeed feel the trends and impacts of this pandemic era for years to come.
To listen to the full podcast, use the following link and select your preferred platform: https://linktr.ee/Infiniteattraction.
Designing in an ongoing pandemic is challenging. This time has shown us that flexibility is paramount in any space. Get back into the office with these three workspace alterations.
1. Spatial Division Made Beautiful
Support distancing measures and make directional paths simpler to follow with physical barriers; use planters or open shelving to add some aesthetic value. Layer your branding into your space with custom signage that clearly marks directional paths or open work areas.
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2. All-Around Protection
Install division screens or wrap-around workbooths to provide spatial workstation protection for your employees. Made from either acrylic or PET felt, division screens should be at least 24″H and wrap 3-ways around to provide optimal protection for your employees.
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3. A Different View On Ancillary
Ancillary areas can still be an incredible asset for employee collaboration with some minor adjustments made. Make employees comfortable in breakout spaces furnished with pieces designed with distancing protocols in mind.
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Get back to work safely with our COVID-19 services. Retrofit your current space using technology-backed tools and best-in-class product solutions.
What lies ahead in the upcoming months is uncertain at best. However, we are confident in the fact that we will all eventually be back to work in our offices–at some point. Once government mandates and restrictions start lifting, companies and employees may need to rethink the way they work in the office.
Over the past several years, workplace design has promoted a more collaborative setting with lower physical barriers to achieve a more dynamic work environment. In preparing for a workplace post-COVID-19, our clients are beginning to discuss how to retrofit these types of open-plan offices to protect employees during this fluid time, even if it’s just a short-term strategy. A complete overhaul may not be necessary, but adding a few additional protective pieces and rethinking the layout of the space along with establishing new protocols may help keep everyone safe and healthy while returning to work.
Here are some things we are already starting to see.
In the months ahead, there will certainly be even more expertise around these topics, and some lessons learned once they are put into practice. Below are some insightful thought leadership pieces created by some of our favorite industry partners.
What happens when the physical office is no longer open for business? For many people across the country, this has become a reality. With concerns over COVID-19 spreading, workplaces large and small are asking employees to work from home.
The media is reporting more and more on what these changes mean for the economy, individuals and families. While the extent of the impacts are unknown, this is sure to be felt in a multitude of areas.
As a leading commercial furniture dealer, we are typically focused on workspaces and the furniture and pieces that come together to make those spaces functional, productive, branded and inspiring. Those adjectives don’t really come to mind though when most of us think about our homes. So now that many of us are facing an abrupt change in work environment, how can we best prepare our homes to become our offices, even if just temporarily?
For many living in smaller homes or apartments, the idea of a home office is just not a reality. Even individuals with more space at home or a dedicated room in the house for an office may not be completely set up to work effectively for a prolonged period of time.
In the weeks ahead as we all get used to our new normal, we’ve solicited a few tips from some of our long-time remote employees to help you start strong. Here’s what they had to say:
We are hopeful that this time passes sooner rather than later, and we can all get back to business as usual. Our heart-felt thoughts are with everyone and their loved ones that have been or will be impacted during this time.
As participants in creating highly effective and efficient workplaces for decades, our curiosity about what this will mean for those workplaces remains strong. We are committed to documenting this change in our history and invite you to stay connected with us for more insights throughout the weeks ahead.
For even more resources related to this topic, join the Steelcase LinkedIn Group: Suddenly Working From Home.