From humble beginnings, Facilities Services Network (FSN), an association of independent contract furniture installation firms, now boasts 16 members.
Last week, Woburn, Massachusetts-based Colonial Systems Inc (CSI) and San Jose, California-based, JEi Corporate Services were the most recent firms to join the North American association, which allows members to share best practice with the aim of improving operational and financial performance and making valuable business contacts.
The network’s facilitator Barry Coyle told OPI+: "With product margins so squeezed in the office furniture industry, the key issue is service, but many still don’t see this as important for business. There are thousands of installers out there that can make a real difference to furniture dealerships and the market as a whole… FSN is composed of 16 of the best – and in many cases, the biggest – independent contract furniture installation firms in the US and Canada."
JEi, a 90-staff strong company that specialises in installation, delivery and warehousing services, is confident that FSN can make a real difference to its business. The company’s owner Dave Jarka said in a statement: "FSN is a highly respected group of firms with deep experience and very high standards. Referrals from other FSN members to perform services from within our coverage area can only help us continue to grow our business."
Gene Kosman, owner of CSI, which has 50 full-time employees, added: "I was impressed at the member’s depth of knowledge and experience. It’s clear that FSN’s collective approach to the challenges of our industry produces high-value solutions that are making FSN member companies ever more effective and efficient."
The members of FSN, which meet at least three times a year, discuss the development and application of best practices in the areas of service automation, quality procedures, software, customer relations and scheduling. They also benchmark and compare information on pricing, and warehouse and installation operations.
The association was originally set up in 1999 to allow three external contractors to share best practice strategies. The idea was based on the format of North American dealer group Business Products Industry Association (BPIA), which later became the Independent Office Products and Furniture Dealers Association (IOPFDA). In the following year, as many as 11 members turned up to an FSN meeting, which Coyle confessed was a "surprise".
But Coyle added that going forward he wants to control the size of FSN. For example, members, which must agree for another company to join, are not looking for installers in similar geographic markets that would be in competition with each other. But they would welcome successful dealers of all sizes that "have a desire to contribute to the group".