Interview with Alessandro Centrone, Vice President Sales & Distribution, Central Eastern Southern Europe.
Steelcase is the second top manufacturer of office furniture in Europe in terms of sales with 395 million € *(2,75 billion $ in the world in 2012). What are the strategies followed by this excellent company? How can it set an example and inspire the manufacturers in the office industry?
Helping create great experiences – wherever work happens.
Here are a few questions to Alessandro Centrone, Vice President Sales & Distribution, Central Eastern Southern Europe, to find out their key to success.
What are the company values guiding and distinguishing Steelcase in the world?
Steelcase strives to be recognized as a global leader in corporate citizenship and to be recognized as a company with a diverse, exceptional and committed workforce. In short, Steelcase aspires to be a sustainable enterprise that aggressively sets and achieves people, planet and profit goals.
How do these values turn into the driver of your strategies?
We see globalization challenging traditional notions of how work is structured and located, and anytime/anywhere access to information means work is more an activity people do than a place they go. We observe how the divergent needs of multi-generations at work are fundamentally changing how, when and where work is happening, and a number of factors are increasing the amount of knowledge work being done. So our energy is focused on developing strategies for responding to these fundamental changes in the world of work.
What is the chief strength of your business success?
With our unmatched continental presence we want to reach better efficiency despite industry cyclicality and a difficult global competitive environment. Our employees and global
capabilities are key differentiation in an extremely competitive and fragmented market.
As excellent company, what benefits and policies are adopted towards the employees?
Steelcase develops the best work environments and its employees are the first active users of its solutions. Steelcase goal is to have employees who love how they work and share its values, like respect, commitment to the environment and local communities, and people development. So the HR policies are strongly settled in these values to allow all employees to express and develop their talent, to enjoy their working in inspiring environments and teams, and to grow within the company through more and more global career paths. Diversity is our main richness, and interaction of talents all around the world, our most powerful weapon.
Brief history of Steelcase
Steelcase began in 1912 as The Metal Office Furniture Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It received its first patent in 1914 for a steel wastebasket – a major innovation at a time when straw wastebaskets were a serious office fire hazard. That led to metal desks, and we’ve led the way with product and service innovations ever since. Today, the portfolio of solutions addresses the three core elements of an office environment: interior architecture, furniture and technology (not necessarily limited to office spaces). The company changed its name to Steelcase in 1954 and became a publicly held company in 1998. For 100 years, Steelcase has been bringing human insight to business by studying how people work, wherever they work. Those insights and our solutions can help organizations achieve a higher level of performance by creating places that unlock the promise of people at work.
*Data: JSA League Table of European Office Furniture Companies (updated to April 30th , 2012)