VOL. 126 | NO. 236 | Monday, December 5, 2011
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
APG Office Furnishings Succeeds on South Main
By JOHN LINTNER
APG Office Furnishings has seen substantial growth since moving to Memphis in early 2009. The recently opened Downtown location at 100 S. Main St. offers an upgrade from the company’s old Shelby Drive store, as well as the benefit of pedestrian traffic.
APG Office Furnishings, which is a certified Herman Miller dealer, has opened a new location at 100 S. Main downtown. Pictured from left are Connie Goins, president and owner; Mike Ratcliff, VP of sales; and Jeff Schultz, senior VP of sales. (Photo: Lance Murphey)
APG, based in Cincinnati, is a Herman Miller Inc.-certified network dealer. The office furniture store moved Downtown after the existing Herman Miller dealership, Design Elements Inc., moved in a new direction with its business model.
“We are the exclusive Herman Miller dealership for the Mid-South region,” said Mike Ratcliff, vice president of sales at APG in Memphis. “Herman Miller, knowing that Design Elements wanted to phase out of being a dealer, approached APG because we’ve been one of their most productive and well-run dealerships in the country.”
When APG first opened its South Main Street location, it faced an uphill battle to establish itself as a viable dealership, Ratcliff said. While essentially every business in the area was feeling the effects of the Great Recession, APG took on hiring salespeople and opening a new store with substantially higher overhead.
But the company saw marked improvement over the next two years and was the only Herman Miller dealership in Tennessee to increase both commercial and health care sales by 100 percent for the 2011 fiscal year.
“Being (Downtown) just has a totally different sense of energy,” Ratcliff said. “It’s just so different from the old location, where trucks are driving by at 60 miles per hour and there’s no walk-in business. To have hundreds of people walking by at pedestrian pace is just huge for us.
“One of the best things about being Downtown is that we purchased all new Herman Miller furniture for our showroom. It’s specific to what we sell 90 percent of the time, and we wanted people to come in and kick the tires and touch and feel the things that we’re selling to them. Here, they can do that.”
With corporate backing, APG is able to spread the workload to designers at other venues when the pace of business exceeds what the Memphis office is equipped to handle. Still, it recently hired a new designer locally as business continues to flourish.
APG wants to increase its presence in an abounding Memphis health care market that includes multiple hospitals, medical schools, a thriving biosciences sector and a plethora of health clinics. Featuring a range of products to outfit offices, patient rooms, labs and pharmacy areas, the company could conceivably see business surge even more.
“Our long-term goals are to continue to establish the APG brand in Memphis to become the leading supplier of office interior solutions and product solutions in the Memphis market,” said Jeff Schultz, senior vice president of sales at APG’s corporate headquarters. “We’ve had continued growth each year, and we want to continue that growth until we find what our plateau point in Memphis is – and I don’t think we’ve gotten there yet.”
Through a partnership with the Downtown Memphis Commission and support from the community, APG had a positive and unique experience in opening its showroom Downtown, Schultz said.
“It’s a significant investment on our part, but it’s been made easy because of everybody’s support,” he said. “From Henry Turley, who owns the building, to the Downtown Memphis Commission to the architectural design firms that supported us, it’s really been a very good experience working with the Memphis community, and we really appreciate it.”