BOARDMAN, Ohio – With the press of a button, Joe Sylvester opens the blinds in the new office of JS Interior Innovations. Another button raises a desk in the corner to be used as he stands before it. And just beneath the collar of his shirt is a small metallic rectangle called a Lumo Lift that vibrates whenever he begins to slouch.
“It goes off probably more often than it should. We’re spending more and more time behind a desk when we should be standing upright,” the CEO of Joseph Sylvester Construction Co. says. “It all helps with blood flow and productivity.”
These products are all part of the new design trends taking hold in offices around the country, including the Mahoning Valley. Trends became so popular and played such a large role in the everyday work of Sylvester Construction that earlier this year Sylvester formed a new division of his company: JS Interior Innovations.
The construction company entered office furniture in the early 2000s as a way to ease the construction process, Sylvester explains. Customers often hired the company to design and build their offices, but then used a different company for furniture and interior design, which led to confusion and problems with the building timeline. It wasn’t unheard of, he says, to have furniture arrive before it could be placed or for the colors of furniture and paint to be mismatched.
“Customers were getting confused. They want to focus on their business, so we wanted to provide a one-stop shop,” the CEO says. “With this, we can cover it all. We can help design, do space planning, color coordinating. It makes life a little bit easier.”
JS Interior Innovations now handles all aspects of interior design for the parent company. It also brought along a new position: interior designer, a position Holly DiRenzo fills. The new subsidiary also has a showroom in West Boulevard Square. Sylvester notes that it’s the only locally owned office furniture showroom in the Mahoning Valley.
“If they’re here in Trumbull or Mahoning County, we can meet with them as soon as possible, which gives us an advantage,” DiRenzo says. “It absolutely helps when you’re able to sit down with a client, show them color selections, furniture layouts and all of that.”
In just a few months of operation, JS Interior Innovations has gained Hamburg, Germany-based Engel & Volkers real estate agency as a client, providing that agency with furnishings at all of its offices in Florida. Every office has the same layout and equipment, Sylvester says.
“It’s getting your foot in the door,” he continues. “It makes the owners of the locations have a little more access and an ability to get the furniture that’s part of their brand … without having to search to for it.”
At home in northeastern Ohio, and especially in the Mahoning Valley, Sylvester observes a trend in renovation rather than new construction, which opens many doors for updating and upgrading office furniture.
“Companies change from within and there’s always a need to add employees, move employees around, arrange their work space and create a more pleasant environment,” he says.
Today’s office spaces are a far cry from the sea of six-foot tall cubicle walls that have dominated corporate offices since the 1960s. There’s more of a focus on collaboration, ergonomics and functionality.
On one side of the JS showroom, two desks from Trendway are separated by a wall similar to a cubicle, albeit much shorter and with features that allow it to be customized with dry erase boards, a slotted wall to attach pencil or paperclip holders and a small cabinet on wheels topped with a cushion, The cushion turns it into a seat when a co-worker stops by.
A white table in the showroom has both a USB and an electrical outlet in the center, a useful charging port for those with laptops, cell phones and tablets. Surrounding the table are short foam chairs and couches from Trendway. As he sits down, Sylvester points out that the table isn’t designed as a site to rest his laptop.
“It’s assuming I’ll have my laptop on my lap and that I’m using the table as a desk. And I can slide my laptop right off and on to the table. I don’t have to pick it up,” he says. “This furniture is all designed to work together, not just a couch or just a table.”
Gaining popularity, DiRenzo says, are adjustable-height desks. In the JS Interior office, one from Workrite has “up” buttons to adjust the height, along with a memory function. Through this, she explains, each worker’s preferred settings to both stand and sit can be saved, allowing people to use multiple stations rather than be anchored to just one desk.
“It promotes good health,” she says. “To be able to work in an environment where you sit and stand throughout the day is very important.”
Among other products JS Interior offers are Clarus Glassboards – a dry erase board made of glass and available in several colors – and Snowsound, sound-absorbing wall hangings to help reduce background noise in an office. Other brands are Paoli, AllSeating, Bernhardt and Lencore, whose products run from desks and chairs to décor and lighting.
“Everybody seems to multitask, so you need to be multifunctional. You need to be able to charge your laptop and iPhone and do a lot of things at the same time,” Sylvester says of the products his company offers.
And with such an array of products available, there’s something for any price range. Most of what’s on display in the showroom is top-of-the-line, Sylvester says, but there are less expensive options for almost all of the products. And buying furniture isn’t the only option. Many furniture companies have begun offering leasing and lease-to-own ventures, reducing some of the upfront costs that go into updating office furniture.
“We have very inexpensive furniture to very luxurious wood lines. There are plenty of markets and margins for wherever you need to be with your budget,” he says. “But some things – like the health of employees, what it takes to bring in and train new employees, and how you get them to collaborate – how do you value that?”
Pictured: Joe Sylvester and Holly DiRenzo say office furniture needs to be “multifunctional” just as office workers must perform many functions.
Copyright 2016 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.