Weekly Editorial

BIFMA’s Impact and Importance in the Industry

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • October 16, 2023

The Insider_Monthly_Editorial Section_10.16.23

Did you ever wonder why nearly every height adjustable table has the same range from low to high? Or why a task chair is designed to fit a certain range of people? Did you ever wonder who is looking out for the industry’s best interest in Washington, D.C.?

The answer to all of the above is because of work done by BIFMA.

There are a handful of industry organizations everyone should know about. At the top of the list is the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association. It is our industry’s trade organization that is responsible for everything from creating furniture standards to organizing educational sessions.

BIFMA is the non-profit trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers. It was established in 1973 and is the voice of the commercial furniture industry. The group helps you provide healthy, comfortable and productive spaces to your customers. To do that, BIFMA creates a host of engineering and materials standards. According to BIFMA’s website, “These standards, founded on centuries of craft and enhanced by ever-advancing science, embody the best of our knowledge on safety, ergonomics, and sustainability.”

BIFMA sponsors the development and refinement of standards, educates on their importance and application, and translates their necessary complexity into more easily understood and implemented formats. They also promote sustainability throughout the life cycle of furniture. Additionally, BIFMA offers statistical and educational resources to its members and the public and reaches out to regulators, consumers, and international partners to foster value and innovation.

Everyone says (and I agree) that the office furniture industry is collegial. Manufacturers, dealers, designers and salespeople fight tooth and nail to win projects, but when the dust settles, a lot of us are friends or at least friendly with our competitors. If you’ve ever worked in another industry, you know how rare that is.

BIFMA is a strong organization that is lead by volunteers who put in countless hours for the common benefit of everyone in the industry. These volunteers include CEOs from manufacturers large and small who serve on the board and engineers from competing companies who sit down together to make the workplace safer. They are not paid for their work. They do it to help everyone in the industry and they deserve our thanks.

If you are part of this industry and not a member of BIFMA, I would urge you to join. From personal experience, I can tell you that BIFMA events and research have helped me do my job better and I’m confident it will help you too.

There are several membership levels. A regular member is any business that is primarily engaged in design, development, marketing, and fulfillment of office or institutional (healthcare, education) furniture in North America. An international member is the same, but based outside North America. Suppliers — all those companies that make the parts and pieces that are used to create furniture — can be members too. There is a service membership category for those companies that provide any services to the industry. There is also a membership for community, any business that is engaged in activities to which the services of BIFMA may be relevant and pertinent.

Membership provides access to everything BIFMA has to offer. Most importantly, it means you are part of the office furniture community. It truly is the membership card to our industry. So join if you haven’t. Get involved with BIFMA if you are a member.

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