In last month’s e-newsletter we shared part one of our Herman Miller Customer Profile which featured Senior Design Exploration Lead, Marc Gierz. This article explored Herman Miller’s customer-focused design style and the challenges the design team faces.
This month we are sharing the second part of the Herman Miller feature with Supplier Development Manager, Zak Lotter. Herman Miller’s customer focus doesn’t end during the design process. It bleeds into every aspect of the company—including supply chain management.
This customer focus can be seen in the way that Lotter works on a day-to-day basis. He doesn’t design products, but he does design the supply chains that support products and ensure that customers get the best value possible.
Lotter said that one of the biggest challenges the Supply Chain Team faces is lead time expectations from customers. Because of things like Amazon Prime and the multitude of in-store pickup options available, people are becoming accustomed to getting items within days, sometimes even hours, of placing an order.
Herman Miller had to find a way to keep up with customer expectations. “We have to work internally and with suppliers and figure out how we can get better, faster and more flexible—without affecting price,” said Lotter.
“It’s a classic,” Lotter says of the Eames Lounge and Ottoman–one of his favorite HM products.
Lotter defined flexibility as being able to provide customers with special orders, whether that be color or style, within a similar lead time and for a similar price as standard items. In order to do this Lotter works with suppliers to develop fulfillment strategies that meet customer needs.
When we asked Lotter the one thing that current and potential customers should know about Herman Miller, he didn’t hesitate. “Our dedication to sustainability and environmental stewardship,” he said. “A core value that has been in the company culture for over 100 years.”
A lot of companies have jumped on the “go green” bandwagon. Studies continue to show that consumers prefer to buy environmentally friendly products and are willing to pay more for these products. For Herman Miller this isn’t a new practice, or about being trendy. Their dedication to the environment dates back to the founder, D.J. De Pree, and can be seen in the construction of their office spaces and in the materials used in their products.
At ITC, we’re proud to work with a company that values the environment just like we do.
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