Written by Christina Estes
It’s a critical, yet sometimes overlooked office staple. It sets the stage for your company’s image, your client’s comfort and your employees’ success. Like a receptionist answering a customer call, it speaks volumes about your business and if your office furniture is outdated or in bad shape, your clients may wonder if your company is, too. Fortunately, there’s a man on a mission to help every company across the country present a professional appearance without breaking their budgets.
Meet the Furniture Man
Monte Knudson is a pretty laid back guy “ until you start talking about office furniture. Then, he becomes a sort of superhero. No, he doesn’t don a cape or wear a mask, but Knudson does seem to take on superhero qualities in his quest to find the best quality at the lowest prices.
The search never gets old, says the president of National Office Interior and Liquidators. I really enjoy finding products at good prices and passing them along to customers. Seeing their reactions is priceless.
Finding the highest-quality new and used furniture requires a lot of travel and a little superhero-like vision. Knudson and his team visit manufacturers around the world and sift through thousands of pieces. While Knudson doesn’t have x-ray vision, he does have the ability to see through miles of furniture and zoom in on what will work.
A lot of times we may only find one or two products we like and we’ll buy a large quantity, he explains.
From desks to cubicles, chairs to cabinets, you can view the massive inventory on this website or at one of their showrooms located in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Tustin, California. National Office Interiors and Liquidators offers a mix of new and reconditioned furniture featuring top companies like Herman Miller, Steelcase, Haworth, Knoll, Kimball, Allsteel and Hon.
When we purchase used office furniture, we are very selective. We like to purchase large quantities of slightly used office furniture from many select companies, including fortune 50 and 100 companies nationwide that are remodeling or moving into new buildings, Knudson says. Our reconditioned products are carefully restored, in good working order and presented with limited signs of wear and no tears.
Knudson’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction leads him to offer warranties on all items “ new and used. Some people may be a little fearful about purchasing used furniture and we want to reassure them, he says.
It’s not just quality products and warranties that set National Office Interiors and Liquidators apart. It’s the low prices that often have people doing double takes.
When we open a new store word quickly spreads, Knudson says. We get visits from local retailers and manufacturing representatives checking us out. When they see our prices they say, ˜How are you guys doing it? You’re losing money aren’t you?’
It goes back to Knudson’s super vision. He is able to scope out top products, buy in bulk and share the savings. There are no minimum or maximum purchase rules. You can order a single desk, choose thousands of chairs or have cubicles installed. You don’t have to buy from a National Office Interiors and Liquidators store to cash in either- Knudson’s goal is to offer the highest quality and lowest price with shipping included.
For some, including Senior Pastor Lee Mason at Classic City Community Church in Athens, GA, it may sound a bit too good to be true. But, Pastor Mason discovered that National Office Liquidators products and people are the real deal.
I called and talked with a friendly staff member and felt reassured by their competence and demeanor, he wrote to the company. The chairs that I purchased have exceeded my expectations! They are top quality office chairs at an incredibly discounted price. Thank you to your staff for your professionalism and integrity in delivering such tremendous value to your customers.
Before merging with American Airlines, Pat Chilton worked at US Airways headquarters in Phoenix where she was responsible for a furniture purchase. As she wrote, it was the first of many positive experiences, National Office Liquidators has been our first choice. The service provided has been exemplary, both for purchasing new/used product and repair of furniture purchased elsewhere.
Building a Family Business
Monte Knudson’s footprint in the furniture industry goes back more than 25 years when he first made and sold furniture in Phoenix. He began by selling door-to-door and then opened a warehouse where he and a partner manufactured furniture that was sold directly to retailers.
Things were going well until 2005, when the roof literally caved in. “Our landlord was having the sprinkler system checked out and when they left they forgot to turn the alarm back on” he says. “Over the weekend, our roof collapsed and when it collapsed it broke the main water pipe and flooded the machinery and furniture.”
While Knudson felt like he lost everything, he still had decades of valuable contacts and knowledge and a ˜never give up’ attitude. “Instead of selling to stores, I decided to sell to the public and offer large discounts. I found a niche and went for it.”
One of those valuable contacts was Rick Horne who had represented Knudson’s manufacturing company and now serves as sales associate at the Houston store. “He was then and is now a forward-thinking individual” Horne says. “It has been my experience that few people are willing to make the commitment to excellence that Monte has exhibited in his life.”
In 2011, Horne was tapped to open the 28,000 sq. ft. Tustin showroom. “It was a challenge” he says. “Everyone jumped in to help. It is this kind of atmosphere that makes me so appreciate being part of the family of National Office Interiors and Liquidators.”
One of Horne’s favorite memories came shortly before moving to Houston. He was rearranging furniture when a customer walked in and said, “This is the Holy Grail of office furniture.”
“I will never forget that comment” he says. “It just states in one sentence the impression we are trying to create for everyone who walks in.”
National Office Interiors and Liquidators is also a family-run business. When Knudson’s son, Rheo, started with the company in 2007 there was no front office set aside for him. Knudson wanted his son to gain knowledge and respect for the company.
“I wanted him to start from the bottom and see how it really works and then, down the road at some point if he wants to take over the business, he will truly understand what it takes to get a business started and keep it running,” Knudson says.
“When I started, my main responsibility was sweeping the warehouse” says Rheo Knudson. “My dad wanted me to work for my position and over the years he has groomed me to be a confident team leader and valuable company asset.”
Rheo Knudson is now the national sales manager in Phoenix where he duplicates his father’s passion for building relationships and doing the right thing, “I always put myself in my customer’s shoes and ask, ˜Does this furniture fill my customer’s need? Will it work in their office environment? Is it within their budget?'”
Monte Knudson not only enjoys mentoring his son, but also other employees. He often reminds them not to let egos get in the way, “Sometimes in business you’re not always right and there are others that come up with good ideas.”
Perseverance is another quality he pushes, “Things change and I want to make sure that I’m focused and I embrace it. Knowing that obstacles will come up, you can overcome them and continue.”
Happy Customers = Successful Business
After more than 25 years in the business, Knudson has found the recipe for success is pretty simple “ make your customers happy. Over the years he has seen other business owners more focused on making a buck than earning a customer. It’s a route he refuses to take.
Putting customers first also keeps customers like Steve Zimmer with the Stepan Company coming back. He wrote, Over the last 3+ years, I have worked with you, and NOL continues to impress me with how much you value our business. From a single office to a 60,000 square foot building, NOL has delivered on every challenge.
Knudson says, I’ve always focused on taking care of the customer and everything else will fall into place, he says.
That philosophy is definitely working. Knudson says National Office Liquidators experienced 30 percent growth in 2013. They plan to open two new stores in 2014 with more to follow.
While growing his own business, Knudson takes pride in helping other businesses save money while projecting a polished image. Each store also reinforces Knudson’s commitment to local economies. His current workforce of 50-plus will increase with each new location.
When you’re doing something you like and creating opportunities for others and they’re excited, it makes it all good, he says.