Accommodating Workplace Trends
Lincoln Office Systems, Inc. personalizes office areas for evolving work culture
Offices have changed significantly over the past few decades, says Sam Newman, Founder and Vice President of Lincoln Office Systems, Inc. He started his professional career in 1982 while working for a company that sold office furniture and supplies. “By supplies, I mean the daily goods [used] in an office, such as paper, pens and, in those days, other items that don’t exist today. The computer had hardly surfaced,” Newman says. He eventually started offering his own design services for the furniture side of that business and realized he wanted to open his own company.
Lincoln Office Systems, an institutional contract furniture dealer based in Brooklyn, New York, began in June 1987 and serves the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. “At that time, privacy in the work setting was considered of utmost importance,” Newman says. “Offices were enclosed. Cubicles featured 6- or 7-foot-high sides as soundproof as possible.”
“Today’s culture relies on a more collaborative atmosphere, necessitating an open environment. In order for people to work together, they need visual and spoken connection,” he continues. Gone are the intercoms to talk to someone two desks down. Each employee may still have a separate cubicle, but the surrounding panels are shorter, with glass above. This enables colleagues to stand and see one another and talk if necessary. As a side benefit, more natural lighting shines in from windows.
Conference rooms have also been transformed. “Big conference tables are no longer the central feature in a board room. Rather, seating consists of little couches placed around a cozy room, where people discuss business in a more cordial atmosphere,” Newman says.
Furniture design has also adapted to accommodate the use of technology and social media. “We have to provide a means of automatic connectivity with modular wiring—low voltage for computers and digital networking and high voltage for electrical. That’s all incorporated in today’s furniture since that’s a focus of society now,” Newman says.
Also, more emphasis is placed on ergonomic sensitivity. “Many of the products we sell are based on their ergonomic level provided to the individual who uses them,” Newman says. “That’s why we have many different types of seating with multiple adjustments to make the employees comfortable while they work,” he adds.
High and low desks can be brought to a standing position and lowered back down so that the person can sit again when tired. “That’s one of today’s healthy trends in working, which is preferable to sitting all day,” Newman says. “So everyone can put their utmost energy into doing their jobs, we strive to make sure the office environment is comfortable, relaxing and geared to boost the mood of employees.”
Personalized Design and Service
The company’s products and services are coordinated by design. “We work with designers, architects and building managers to specify office and institutional furniture for facilities, providing professional CAD layout, delivery, installation and maintenance,” Newman says.
The firm is an authorized dealer for several national manufacturers, including AIS, Global Furniture Group, ERG International, Mayline Company, Nucraft, Cherryman, Great Openings, Open Plan Systems and Lesro. Lincoln Office Systems provides every aspect of an office—furniture, floor covering, window treatment and accessories.
“The main key to success in this business is making an open and clear connection with the client. Many dream about what they want, but when it comes to expressing the idea, some of the points may be missed. When you understand your customers 100%, you know exactly what they want to achieve, and then you are in a better position to accomplish the desired result,” Newman says.
“Within the last 10 to 12 years, my sons came into the picture, making us a little bit of a family business,” Newman says. Joel became the Business Manager in 2008, and in 2012, Moshe assumed the title of President. “We have eight steady employees. And many of the services we provide are done by third parties that specialize in particular services. That allows us to keep a smaller version of staff,” Newman adds. “Our company culture reflects our goal of making people happy and productive in their work environment.”
“The foremost challenge in New York City is space—spaces are on the tight side. Designing a comfortable work environment that fits the most employees possible presents the next challenge. Installation and making sure that the design functions well is the final challenge. That’s one of our unique niches in the business,” Newman says.
B&H Foto & Electronics Corp., dubbed the “Mecca for Tech-Heads,” is a 70,000-square-foot NYC superstore that required hundreds of workstations for its 2,000 employees. “That was a huge project. We installed cubicle systems for general offices as well as different systems for areas, such as marketing, purchasing, customer service and then the private offices,” Newman says.
In working with Reuters’ senior interior designers and architects, Lincoln Office Systems provided their furniture requirements in several private offices as well as two conference rooms. That was in addition to 16 high-end cubicle systems for the support staff in its downtown New York City office.
Lincoln Office Systems also designed and furnished office space for Royal Care, a nursing and home health care provider. “Their headquarters offices are upscale and productive, and we did several floors for them,” Newman says.
The firm is often called on to work in institutional areas, such as Congregation Rodeph Sholom, one of the oldest and largest Reform Jewish synagogues in New York City and sponsor of the Rodeph Sholom School. “They have a lot of offices, and we work with them on a steady basis,” Newman says.
When Lincoln Office Systems has a small request for charity from nonprofits, it provides furniture at no cost. If a larger request comes in, the company provides furnishings at cost, when the nonprofit has allowances that would enable it to purchase furniture. “But there’s a time, when it’s for charity, that you do what you have to do,” Newman says. “We provided for the Hatzalah EMS organization, one of the largest volunteer ambulance corps in the country, at no cost.”
Easing Growing Pains
“My corporate clientele come back as they expand or if they move because they feel comfortable working with us. Even 10 years later they will call,” Newman says. Situations like these requiring the purchase and/or design of office furniture generally suggest a growing stage. “There’s something called growing pains, which means that while the company grows, the financial resources could be strained,” Newman says.
“Expansion is an expensive undertaking, and often the company needs its cash flow for the daily operation of the business. Lease/finance, one of our features, may be a viable solution,” Newman says. When the payments are done, the goods are owned. Payments are monthly, and there is less strain on the company’s finances. If a client pays $25,000 in leasing—or about $1,000 a month—every penny of it is tax deductible. “That’s a huge benefit. We do that all the time,” Newman says.
Helping clients with growing pains is just part of the work at Lincoln Office Systems. “We like offering personalized attention and dedication to making and keeping workplaces attractive, comfortable and efficient without overextending the budget,” Newman says. “The feedback is great. The clients are happy, which makes us happy, which makes us want to do more. It’s a simple cycle.”