Weekly Editorial

Continuous Industry Learning

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Editor-in-chief, OI Publications • September 25, 2023

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The office furniture industry is as deep as it is wide. It took me a decade of reporting on it to finally feel as if I understood every nook and cranny. And yet I continue to discover interesting corners of the industry that I know nothing about.

One of those opportunities for continuous learning came last week, when I received a call from my friend Ryan Goor, president of Commercial Furniture Transport. Chances are, if you’ve moved furniture in or out of New York City, you’ve worked with Ryan or his father, Marty Goor, at CFT.

Ryan told me about an organization that he belongs to, OFDA, which was celebrating its 100th anniversary. I immediately thought he was talking about the Office Furniture Dealers Alliance, which used to hold excellent events for the dealer community, but more recently turned most of its attention to office products. He was speaking about the Office Furniture Distribution Association. He informed me the group would be meeting in person for the first time in four years in Grand Rapids and invited me to attend.

Since I had never heard of this organization and the event was in my hometown, I took Ryan up on the invite and spent a fantastic day learning about the companies that make sure your products arrive on time and in one piece.

It is a small group with about 35 members, most of whom operate transportation companies that serve the office furniture industry. There are also manufacturer members that include most of the majors, but very few of the smaller or mid-sized manufacturers (the group is working on adding to its membership).

OFDA Chairperson Sue deWinter, explained that the group brings together transportation companies with manufacturers to share best practices and try to align on logistical issues. The annual gathering in Grand Rapids was on hold during the pandemic, but is back on track.

I spent an entire day learning about the unique logistical problems associated with the office furniture industry. I met a bunch of great people that provide a critical service to our industry. And they’ve been getting together to provide better service to our industry for the past 100 years. That’s quite an accomplishment.

“Without the people in this room,” said Marty Goor, pointing around the conference room where the group gathered, “office furniture would never make it to the office.”

It’s true. Without transportation companies like those that gathered in West Michigan last week, our industry would look a lot different than it does today. I found that OFDA is part of the rich tapestry that makes up our industry. They also do a lot of good. Sue deWinter, chairperson of the OFDA Board of Directors and national sales manager at Western Logistics said giving back is an important part of its mission. Instead of sitting on membership dues, the group distributes almost everything back into scholarships for students studying logistics. Several students from Grand Valley State University were at the event as guests of the group.

The organization and event are a good example of how we need to keep learning about our industry. Whether you attend an event, read a book or reach out to someone you might not know in the industry, it is all part of the education process we all continuously go through as the work world changes and evolves.

I’d encourage you to do something to advance your own industry education. And if you’d like to learn more about the OFDA Conference, visit Events . If you’d like information about joining, reach out to Roxanne Spetoskey at Zip Xpress at rspetoskey@zipxpress.net.

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