AIS celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and will mark the milestone with a big birthday party celebration during NeoCon in Chicago in June as well as with events at headquarters in Leominster, Massachusetts, in October.
“In 30 years and with a great deal of work, we’ve evolved from a startup to a major office furniture manufacturer, and we’re excited to celebrate with our employees, dealers, customers and partners in the coming months,” AIS President and CEO Bruce Platzman said.
AIS is the largest commercial office furniture and seating manufacturer in New England. Its dealer-centric focus and network extends across North America. The 2018 Manufacturer of the Year in Central Massachusetts, AIS now employs more than 800 people and, in 2018, had annual sales of $200 million. The company has earned acclaim for product design, just-in-time manufacturing and sustainability across the industry.
“During this milestone anniversary, we’re honoring our history and looking forward to our future of creating beautiful, high-quality and market-relevant workspace products for our dealers and their customers,” said Platzman. “It’s been an incredible journey with our dealers and we are proud of our past three decades!”
Celebrating with a NeoCon party in Chicago
AIS will host a “Hats off to AIS” birthday party during NeoCon on Monday, June 10, starting at 4 p.m. in its showroom at #1086 in The Merchandise Mart (theMART) in Chicago. Guests will enjoy live entertainment from strolling magicians plus the music act Chicago Dueling Pianos, known for familiar cover songs. Craft beer and cocktails, appetizers and birthday cake will be served.
AIS will honor its Leominster, Massachusetts-based employees and celebrate with the community during special events that the company is organizing as part ofManufacturing Day and Month in October, with details to be announced this summer.
AIS was founded in Massachusetts in 1989 by President and CEO Bruce Platzman and Chairman Arthur Maxwell. The duo launched AIS in downtown Boston as a remanufacturer and reseller of office furniture.
The quickly growing company moved in 1992 to nearby Hudson, Massachusetts, where it established a lean manufacturing facility. Eventually, AIS expanded into a six facilities spread across the Hudson and Clinton areas outside Boston.
In the mid-1990s, the company started manufacturing its own furniture and soon became known for swiftly developing product lines and quickly delivering products to customers.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, AIS was one of about 10 manufacturers that received a call from the U.S. Navy asking if they could supply furniture for several thousand workers displaced from the attack on the Pentagon. AIS produced 2,500 workstations within weeks of the call.
In 2003, the company received the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Lean Manufacturing. Also in 2003, AIS was named one of Industry Week’s Top 25 Manufacturing Plants in North America.
Awards would follow from the Office Furniture Dealers Alliance (OFDA): AIS received OFDA’s Bronze Non-Aligned Manufacturer of the Year Award in 2008, its Silver Non-Aligned Manufacturer of the Year Award in 2009 and its top honor, the Gold Non-Aligned Manufacturer of the Year Award, in 2011 through 2018. AIS also would go on to win Best of NeoCon Silver Awards in 2013 and 2015. The company received the MassEcon Economic Gold Award in 2014.
Waste reduction, conservation, environmental sensitivity and sustainability have long been important to the company. In 2007, AIS received its first GREENGUARD® certification. In 2010, the company was the first in the office furniture industry to achieve CarbonNeutral® status. In 2017, AIS was honored with the AIM (Associated Industries of Massachusetts) Sustainability Award. Today, all AIS products are SCS Indoor Advantage™ Gold certified for air quality, and AIS systems contain at least 40 percent recycled materials. The company also has achieved BIFMA e3 level® certification on its products. AIS also partners with ANEW, extending the life of office furniture while helping nonprofits across the country.
In 2014, the company began the process of moving its headquarters and manufacturing operations to a 600,000 square-foot facility in Leominster, Massachusetts. Working with Boston-based NELSON Architects, AIS transformed the space over a three-year period and, by April 2017, had completed the renovations and moved all Massachusetts-based employees to the space. AIS kept 600 manufacturing jobs in the state and has since added 175 new jobs. The company is now the largest manufacturer in Leominster. The roof of this massive facility is covered with 10,000 solar panels, making it one of the largest solar fields in the state. Fifty percent of the power used in AIS’s state-of-the-art facility is returned to the grid through these solar panels.
Headquarters also includes a product showroom. AIS also has permanent showrooms at theMART in Chicago, in New York City and in Washington, D.C.
Now with locations across the U.S., AIS has more than 800 employees and over 1 million square feet of office, showroom and factory space.
In the fall of 2018, AIS was chosen “Manufacturer of the Year” for the central Massachusetts region comprised of Worcester and Middlesex counties. The company recently received the Worcester Business Journal’s 2019 Manufacturing General Excellence Award and the MassHire North Central and Central Region Workforce Boards’ Growing and Readying Our Workforce (GROW) Award.
Today, AIS makes a full line of office furniture that is smartly in-tune with customers’ changing needs. The portfolio includes panel systems, benching and desking systems, tables, casegoods, storage and seating. Every piece is designed, engineered and manufactured in the United States of America. Major customers and installations have included J.D. Power and Associates, IBM, Google, Macy’s, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the University of Chicago, NYSE, Lockheed Martin, Nissan, GM, JetBlue Airways and many others.
AIS has a spirit of giving in its heart and recently donated nearly $700,000 worth of installed office furniture for the new Make-A-Wish® Massachusetts and Rhode Island headquarters in Boston. In addition to Make-A-Wish, the company is actively involved in other Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, including with the United Way of North Central Massachusetts, the American Red Cross, and the cities of Leominster and Fitchburg.