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MCLEAN, Va.-In a recent survey, contract furniture dealers, interior designers and facility managers from both small and large companies were asked to evaluate everything from purchasing habits to product integrity in the office furniture industry.

The semi-annual survey, '98 Office Trends, was conducted by research and strategic consulting firm Wirthlin Worldwide and includes input from over 400 panelists in an effort to identify sales expectations, track average delivery times, measure awareness of promotional activities, isolate trends in office furniture sales and determine how major office furniture manufacturers are perceived.

Among the findings is new information about one of the industry's largest categories -- seating. All buying groups agreed that the average net selling price for a high-end task chair has reached an all-time high, continuing the increase experienced over the past few years.

Compared with last year, prices are up anywhere from a few dollars to nearly $50. Designers and facility managers also reported record prices for high-end mid-management chairs.

This pricing increase is limited to the high-end, however, according to Richard Kennedy, an office furniture industry specialist with Wirthlin Worldwide. "With the exception of the high end, chair prices have remained fairly stable throughout the decade," he noted.

Herman Miller bested Steelcase in seating. The categories for seating were design, comfort, quality, price/value, durability, functions/features and reliable delivery.

Another important category -- systems -- received due attention with the evaluation of several manufacturers in several areas, including delivery, price/value, service, and durability.

In all systems categories, Steelcase ranked or tied for first among three of the four groups of respondents, giving it a total of 21 first-place honors out of a possible 28.

Office Trends also asked panelists to rate the customer satisfaction performance of each manufacturer they deal with. Meridian unanimously captured first place, with a score of 4.34 out of 5, retaining its position as the industry leader for customer satisfaction. Meridian has been recognized as providing the best customer satisfaction in three straight surveys and five of the past eight.

Herman Miller and Steelcase ranked second and third, respectively, in the customer service derby. Other companies that earned noteworthy scores were Knoll, Brayton and Vecta. s
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Article Details
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Author:Farrell, Nina
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 14, 1998

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