Enwork 'electrifies' its customer's project

Enwork, the spunky specialists in height adjustable desking, has grown between 25 percent and 75 percent each and every year for the last dozen not because it is chasing the growing market to the bottom, but because it believes in innovation at its core.

Another secret to the Lowell, Mich. company’s success: It develops products along with its customers, creating exactly what they want and folding those collaborations into its main product line. If it works for major corporations that Enwork calls customers, it definitely will work for the smaller firms that come to the company for help as well.

That’s why Enwork is working closely with Tesla to create an ultra-high-tech height adjustable standard. By working closely with this exacting company, Enwork’s products will advance for everyone.

Enwork’s Avant desking and Lugano conference tables that it is creating for Tesla will be the most advanced the company has ever rolled out and among the most innovative height adjustable desks in the industry with embedded technology throughout that will help companies and facility managers track desk usage and potentially lower insurance costs.

The Avant desks should increase employee wellness and productivity as well, said Mike Kelley, vice president of sales and marketing. The technology behind the desks, which was on display at the company’s NeoCon showroom, will feature what the company is calling its iDrive Technology — a Bluetooth and wi-fi enabled desk that recognizes the individual worker and his or her preferences. The worker can control the desk itself from a smartphone or tablet.

There are sensors for anti-collision (Enwork was early in its use of linked height adjustable desk — a trend that was prevalent at NeoCon this year) and all the technology will be tied to the infrastructure, yet completely hidden. Kelley calls its work with Tesla a practice in creating a bespoke environment for the customer.

“This project happened for us because we listened to our clients,” Kelley said. “It is a bespoke environment, built for their needs. They take the product to a new level.”

While Avant will benefit from Enwork’s collaboration with Tesla, it won’t include all the bells and whistles of the bespoke desks for the electric car maker, which includes wireless charging and laptop docking that is built into the desk and an LED name badge that shines on the desk when the user logs it into use.

The Avant for all will still have loads of embedded technology, which was designed with one of Enwork’s suppliers. RFID’s help the desk identify the user. The technology will allow the user to tap into the HVAC and to control lighting. Users can request desks and conference rooms from the app. It will also give the facility manager a lot of control as well. Facility managers will have control and feedback on the desks through a computer link, which can generate usage and energy consumption reports.

When the user walks away from the desk, the desk will sense the absence and move the desk to the standard height and stop drawing power until the next user arrives. Customers can save energy using, potentially save on insurance costs and reduce the real estate footprint.

Aesthetically, it is a clean desking system; architecturally simply but elegant. All of the wiring for the desk itself and all the items a worker might bring to it will be completely concealed, even when the desk is in the standing position. It is hidden in the top of the desk, which Enwork calls the “slab.” Since panels are gone, the raceway is the desk itself. Wiring is snaked through the leg of the desk and the power and data goes through the spine that connects them. There are no visual seams on the legs of the desk either. The material integration is an important part of the Avant desk. For Tesla, Enwork is using a Corian solid surface.

Enwork is creating the desk at a price point that will help the aligned dealer as well. The company is careful not to step on the toes of its larger competitors, instead opting to bring original and innovative products to dealers to give them additional options. They need to bring unique, innovative products with added value to be useful to its dealers.

The company’s “needs-based production” model where it makes bespoke products for its larger customers in collaboration with them and folds them into the overall product line has driven Enwork’s growth. That starts with the company’s nine interior designers and five engineers — a lot of each for a company its size. Creating a product like Avant and being pushed by Tesla to do more and do it better helped Enwork as well. “We would have gotten there, but it would have a lot longer,” Kelley said. “I had concepts, but it definitely helped having a partner in the design.”

The collaboration also resulted in the Lugano conference table line. The conference tables are unique in that they can be used individually or ganged to make a larger table. All are height adjustable, but when ganged, the can act as one unit, able to be raised and lowered using a single control.

Enwork certainly isn’t the biggest office furniture on the block, but it is pushing innovation, something that Kelley said would be much more difficult to do if the project came through a larger company. The work with Tesla began in January. Enwork had full scale prototypes together in four months. “Speed is part of the secret sauce,” Kelley said.

The company was born when company owner David Powell, an ex-Steelcase marking manager, saw an opportunity in the market. In 2003, he and his wife Kelli launched National Worksurface. Powell would produce low-cost worksurfaces that would work with all the major systems. The dealer could still specify its higher cost systems in combination with cheaper worksurfaces from National. The dealer could win projects, the major manufacturers could still get a piece of the business and they could compete with the lower-price companies.

Powell's business took off. Dealers loved National Worksurface because the margins were higher if they used National's products. National also was willing to quickly do any specials they might have. They started tapping National to do more and more. Soon, National was doing complete tables for its dealer customers. The company had become a furniture maker. In 2007, the company changed its name to Enwork to reflect the fact that it really was an enhanced National Worksurface. Enwork has quickly evolved into a strong competitor in the tables and desking business.