Egan Purchases Working Walls Solutions

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Egan Visual has always been, well, a visual company. It's in its name. But the 50-year-old Toronto-based company is taking an audial turn with the acquisition of the assets and ongoing business of Working Walls Solutions, a company that makes acoustic and tackable products for noise and display problems.

The acquisition opens an entirely new segment Egan has, until now, only dipped a toe into. Acoustic products are becoming increasingly important in open office plans, and Egan's customers have asked the company to get more involved in it, said Sean Brown, president and chief executive officer.

“We have found over the past few years that we are seeing increasing demand for sound management in the workplace,” he said. “I think that is owing to the growing popularity of open space in the office and the fact that a lot of the materials that are being used in the office are not sound dampening on their own. The demand for sound management in the workplace is on the rise. Egan is receiving a lot more requests for products to deal with it.”

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About a year ago, Egan entered sound management in a small way with Disperse and Tacet, a couple of new products in its Sound Ideas line. They are designed to dampen sound in the workplace in a small format. This summer, Egan had the opportunity to acquire Working Walls Solutions and jumped at the chance.

Working Walls Solutions will not be operated as an independent business. Instead, it will be folded into the Egan brand. Production will move from the Cleveland area to Egan's facilities in Toronto. Working Walls Solutions was owned by a conglomerate, and all of its employees were offered jobs with companies within the other businesses.

The Working Walls Solutions acquisition provides Egan customers with access to a comprehensive range of standard, configured and custom products that are “visually appealing and functionally superb,” according to the company. The line includes acoustic wall panels, acoustic ceiling products, tackable wall panels, partition extenders and other solutions for noise reduction and sound transmission reduction. Designers and customers may specify Egan Working Walls products with a wide range of familiar fabrics from Guilford of Maine, Carnegie Fabrics, KnollTextiles and Maharam, among others. Working Walls products become part of the Egan line. They'll be available through Egan dealers and represented by the Egan Manufacturer's Rep network.

Working Walls Solutions was a small company, but had been in business for 35 years. Details of the deal, which was inked Sept. 19, were not disclosed. “We're excited about it,” Brown said. “The production of the products and the marketing and sale of the products are compatible with (Egan's culture). The products will be immediately available through the Egan network. We think they are going to appeal to the A&D community.”

While Egan Visual has taken a turn toward the audial side of the business, Brown said there is still a visual aspect to the Working Walls Solutions products. “Everything we do has a visual component,” he said, adding it was no accident when the Egan logo was changed about 15 years ago that the word “visual” was taken out. “We are happy when people call us Egan Visual or just Egan,” Brown said. “The Egan Visual name is still well respected and well known.”

The website at www.workingwalls.com continues to provide product information which will be added to the new www.egan.com in days to come. At NeoCon 2018, Egan unveiled an all-new showroom in the Mart (10-151) to celebrate Egan's 50th NeoCon appearance. Working Walls products will be integrated into this new space.

Jim Egan founded his self-named company 50 years ago to build presentation boards. Though Egan Visual still has a strong presence in communications products, its lines have grown to include height-adjustable tables, glass boards, lecterns and acoustic panels.

In 2017, long-time Egan executive Sean Brown and a small group of investors purchased Egan. Brown joined Egan in 2008 and worked with Jim Egan. After Jim Egan died in 2011, Brown ran the company for his estate. The company has a long history of success. Egan has sold to 93 percent of the Fortune 500 since 2000. Its customers include cutting edge companies like Tesla and Microsoft.

Egan believes in investing in product innovation and changing the way the company interacts with its dealers and customers by creating a one-to-one journey with them. One way Egan does that is by manufacturing everything it sells. By making its own products, Brown said he believes the company can control quality, lead time and innovation in a way that sets it apart from its competitors.