A Brief History of NBF: 1985 – 1995


Welcome to segment two of our mini-series—A Brief History of NBF. In this article, we’ll touch on some of the major events that took place between 1985 and 1995 that shaped National Business Furniture’s future, helping to make it what it is today. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out segment one of this series, which covers the company’s start in 1975 through 1985.

The New Marketing Techniques. In the late 80s and early 90s, National Business Furniture leaders inventively utilized evolving marketing processes within the print media industry in an effort to connect with customers outside of the existing catalog distribution. From newspaper inserts and tabloid-size direct mail periodicals to miniature catalogs of targeted product lines, NBF stayed on top of emerging trends, always staying a step ahead of the competition. Participation in cooperative catalogs with other mail order companies was tested, and NBF eventually developed a descriptive newsletter that showed customers the vast furniture expertise they could expect from us.

The Company Acquisitions. During this decade, NBF acquired three other businesses, all of which were focused on some aspect of the furniture industry. First, a Massachusetts-based business by the name of Office Furniture Center was acquired in 1985. This company, which had a print catalog as well as showrooms in Boston, Nashua, Chicago and New York, brought a 25-person outside sales team to National Business Furniture. The OFC catalog was assimilated by NBF’s corporate office and distributed through 1991.

In 1989, NBF acquired yet another catalog company, this one called Factory Direct Furniture. Factory Direct Furniture advertised “Guaranteed Lowest Factory Prices,” which was a huge sales vehicle for NBF at the time. Production of the FDF catalogs was assimilated by NBF’s corporate office and distributed through 2002.

In 1990, NBF acquired a leading church and school furniture catalog company called Dallas Midwest. This purchase offered an established headquarters for new regional sales in the southwestern part of the United States and an expansion of the general mailing lists for the other catalogs. In addition, the company had a firm footing in the sale of furniture products to the church market, a lucrative customer base that had been previously untapped by the other NBF companies. Dallas Midwest remains in production today both in print and online, and it is still widely considered to be one of the low price leaders in the church and school furniture industry.


The NBF Stoplight. If you pay a visit to NBF’s Milwaukee headquarters today, you’ll notice a strange and striking piece of decor as you walk down the rows of offices. Randy Farrah, NBF’s VP of Merchandising, is the proud keeper of the NBF Stoplight—a 25-year-old symbol of NBF’s commitment to top-notch customer service. The stoplight program was developed by founder George Mosher to be used as a simple tool for communicating a visiting supplier’s standing with NBF. Before a manufacturer comes in for a meeting, they are judged based on a long list of elements on our stoplight scorecard and then given a green, yellow or red rating. A supplier with great products and superior service is considered a green light, which is the level that all manufacturers aim to achieve. Yellow and red light suppliers are typically given a cautionary warning to improve their status before their products are removed from the NBF offering. The NBF light system is still proudly used today.

From innovation in marketing to a dedication to the best quality products and service, not much has changed over the last few decades. Out with the old and in with the new may be a necessary motto in some avenues, but here at National Business Furniture, we’re proud of where we came from and where our hard work and innovation has taken us.

Stay tuned next month for the third installment in our brief history series!

Healthcare Settings and Wooden Furniture

Healthcare design is moving away from the cold and sterile rooms with which the industry as a whole is so often associated. Instead, the facilities are trying to find new ways to incorporate design elements that are welcoming and warm – an effort to make patients and their visiting family members and friends as comfortable as possible. It’s a trend that NBF saw firsthand in the healthcare showrooms at NeoCon in 2014, and it’s a trend that is sure to further improve healthcare facilities and shift furniture demand.

Healthcare Furniture featured at Neocon 2014.

An easy way to incorporate more charm is by adding calming, yet warm colors and wood tones to the room. Solid wood furniture, however, is not always the best option for healthcare settings, due to its porous nature.

These laminate wood options, on the other hand, provide the look and warmth of wood combined with a construction that is non-porous and easy to clean/disinfect in demanding environments, like that of healthcare facilities:

32″ Wide Behavioral Health Four Drawer Dresser

Healthcare Laminate Storage

Specifically designed for the behavioral healthcare market, this Behavior Health Four-Drawer Dresser helps to provide safety and peace of mind for your staff and patients. Made out of high pressure laminate, this storage solution also offers patients a place to store personal items, therefore encouraging a cleanly and neat environment. To add to its already clear functionality, this patient storage also provides a warm, cheerful look that is sure to brighten any healthcare facility.

Legacy Miller Laminate Three Drawer Cabinet

Healthcare Laminate Storage

This three drawer cabinet from Legacy offers an easy to clean storage option for many healthcare facilities. Designed with healthcare settings in mind, this Miller Laminate Three Drawer Cabinet can act both as a place for patients to store personal items or as  a place for medical staff to store necessary items. Best of all, the laminate is available in seven different wood tones that lend a warm appearance, meaning that healthcare facilities will be able to easily incorporate this storage solution into pre-existing designs.

Timberlane Urethane Arm Two Seater

Healthcare Laminate Seating

Seating is especially important in healthcare facilities, especially when it comes to waiting areas. These spaces usually see heavy foot traffic, so durability is an absolute must, not only for the sake of value, but also for the safety of any patients or visitors. This Timberlane Urethane Arm Two Seater accommodates guests of all sizes and also features a wood frame with silver ion anti-microbial treatment which inhibits the growth of bacteria and microbes. Additionally, the protective polyurethane arm caps and the anti-microbial vinyl upholstery make for easy cleaning with a damp cloth and bleached base solutions. Finally, with the multiple color options available, this seating option can help to bring a welcoming feel into any waiting room.

Café au Lait Oversized Stools and 3″ Round Bar Height Table Set

Cafe Table

Lunch rooms are also a vital part of most healthcare facilities. This Café au Lait Oversized Stools and 30” Round Bar Height Table Set features antimicrobial vinyl upholstery, steel frames, laminate backs and laminate surfaces. This makes cleaning a breeze – something that is especially necessary in a cafeteria setting, where messes are apt to happen.  The many different color options are cheerful and bright, helping you create a comfortable and relaxing dining experience for patients and guests alike.

Office Chairs worth the Splurge

When it comes to office furniture, there are plenty of economical options to help you stick to your budget: you could select a desk made of laminate instead of veneer; you could purchase artificial plants instead of real ones; or you could really save by building your furniture yourself. One element that you really don’t want to skimp on, however, is your office chair. Because you sit in your chair for most of the day nearly every day, we’ve put together this short list of office chairs that are worth the splurge.

global seating

Global Executive High Back Knee Tilter Chair. If you’re searching for a luxury executive chair with an ergonomic design, then look no further. This high back seating option from Global has everything you need to stay comfortable and stylish, meaning you’ll be able to stay cozy while you work and make a good impression on your employees at the same time. What makes this chair so great? Not only does it have a sharp look complete with chrome framework and a high, curved back, but it’s also made with a knee tilt design. The knee tilt mechanism is one of the most impressive ergonomic adjustments on the market, allowing the user’s feet to remain flat on the ground during recline. Because the reclining action does not require any pressure to be exerted at the back of the user’s legs, this provides a comfortable experience no matter how you choose to sit in your chair.

La Z Boy Seating

La Z Boy Traditional High Back Leather Judge’s Chair. If you enjoy the finer things in life, then you’ll love this judge’s chair from one of our most renowned furniture manufacturers—La Z Boy. This chair is so impressive not only because of the way it looks, but because of the way it’s constructed. La Z Boy certainly went the extra mile by making this seating option with genuine leather upholstery along with a kiln-dried hardwood frame that artfully wraps along the back of the chair. Button tufting lends visual interest, but what really captures attention is the size of the seat. At 28” wide by 33” deep, this executive chair is massive, lending an air of professionalism and importance that’s fit for a judge.

Concept Seating

Concept Seating Executive 24/7 Intensive Use Genuine Leather Chair. If you work in a call center or in another industry where chairs are being used by multiple people over the course of multiple shifts, then this chair is your dream come true. Built for 24/7 use, it can easily withstand rigorous use for years. You’ll also notice that this chair is all about that base. With seven legs and casters, that big base is as sturdy as they come and has the ability to hold a whopping 550 pounds of weight at once. It also features genuine leather upholstery that will make you feel like you’re sitting in a luxury vehicle, not an office chair.

Via Seating

Via Seating Polished Frame Multi Motion Fabric Task Chair. One of our newest offerings, this eye-catching task chair by Via will help you engage in low-impact movement throughout each work day. This task chair is special because it was developed by chiropractors to be better for you to sit on every day. With more than 180 patents and a visually stunning design, it’s easy to see why this chair has been coined as one of the most innovative seating options in the world. It encourages movement to the sides, front and back of the chair and features adjustable lumbar support to keep you as comfortable as can be.

Izzy Seating

izzydesign Modern Fabric Ergonomic Mid-Back Task Chair. Last but not least on our list is this unique design by izzy. Not only does this chair have a sleek, modern look that will turn heads in your office, but it’s also super comfortable. Its patented BalancedMovement mechanism promotes natural movement while in a seated position by allowing the seat to move forward as the user leans forward or backward. A number of ergonomic adjustments are also provided and, best of all, are a breeze to use.

Common Workplace Distractions and How to Avoid Them

It can be incredibly easy to get distracted in the modern day workplace. This happens to be especially true in those offices with an open floor plan that boasts bench seating and wide, unchallenged lines of vision. Regardless of all and any distractions around you, you still have work to do and goals to accomplish. Here are some common workplace distractions along with some tips on how to avoid and overcome them and instead keep your focus.

Distractions in the office

Coworker Chit-Chat

Whether it’s two other coworkers having a lively conversation about last night’s episode of The Walking Dead or it’s a coworker taking a phone call (whether personal or professional), it can be incredibly distracting during those critical moments when you need to focus intently on what you are doing. Headphones can prove to be your best friend, as you can hardly yell at your coworker to pipe it down. Just be sure that the music itself isn’t too loud and that the type of music matches not only your mood, but also the type of work you’re completing. Otherwise, the music may prove to be a distraction itself.

Chatty Coworkers

Perhaps the problem isn’t that your coworkers are talking amongst themselves or over the phone – maybe it’s that they are talking to you. While having a short and friendly conversation with coworkers is definitely okay and sometimes even needed as a quick break, it can also be unwanted if you’re scrambling to meet a deadline or in the middle of something important. While cutting them off may expedite the process, it certainly won’t make for a very pleasant way to end the conversation. Instead, simply and politely explain that unfortunately, you’re on deadline and you need to get back to it. Be honest and polite about why you need to cut a conversation short – your coworker is sure to understand that situation and this way you won’t seem rude.

Printer Noise

Are you the person who sits by the printers? Lucky you! Okay, not so much. For some, there is nothing more distracting than the distinct purr of a printer. It’s an unfortunate noise to be sure, but also one that probably isn’t going anywhere, sadly. If it’s really disturbing you, look into moving your desk. If that’s not an option, know that listening to your own headphones can also go a long way.


Whether you’re answering important emails or not, it can still cause you to lose your focus, especially if there’s a sound alert activated. To avoid this distraction, turn off any kind of notification and set aside a time chunk dedicated to answering emails. Only allow yourself to answer emails during that time. This will ensure that you stay on task. If you’re worried about important emails going unanswered for too long, add two time slots to your day dedicated to answering email.

Cell Phones

Texting, calling and facebook-ing – oh my! For as amazing as these pocket sized devices are, they are incredibly distracting. They can also be quite a time-suck. You start to browse emails and, before you know it, you’re reading a Buzzfeed article that you really don’t need to be reading. While for some people this certainly will be a no go, turning your cell phone off and keeping it stowed away is the best way to keep this small but powerful distraction at bay.


Multi-tasking is something that is often touted as the key to success. However, there is a lot of research out there that points to the idea that multi-tasking may actually worsens the quality of work that we accomplish. It can also very easily take us off course. It’s important to multi-task sparingly. Your work will most likely improve the more that you focus/ the less that you multi-task.

Hoteling the Right Way

Hoteling refers to the practice of providing employees with a workspace on an as-needed basis. How does it work? Essentially, companies that utilize hoteling are looking for ways to reduce operating costs by leasing out a smaller office and maintaining fewer ‘resident’ employees. Workers will reserve desk space when they need it rather than having a permanent station at which to work. This can be an especially effective method to implement in offices where employees frequently work from home or are out in the field such as with outside sales staff. If you’re thinking of incorporating a hoteling program within your business, be sure to make a game plan ahead of time and take the following into consideration.

NBF_Blog_Hoteling (2)

Reserve private offices first. Don’t let hoteling space overrun your entire floor. Be sure to block off space for permanent employees and managers first, and then use the remaining space for temporary workers and telecommuters. Although hoteling in an open area can be an effective solution, it’s always going to be important to maintain private offices for holding meetings and one-on-one conversations as well. Often times, employees who normally telecommute will come to the office specifically for meetings. Ensure that there is a designated space or room where conferences can be held without distractions.

Create clear and concrete hoteling policies. Laying out the rules and defining them clearly in the beginning will alleviate any confusion between hoteling employees and permanent residence employees in the future. In your policy manual, include information as to how the employee should book the office space, how the space should be used and how the space should look when left at the end of the day.

NBF_Blog_Hoteling_02 (2)

Provide hoteling employees with a place to keep their belongings. Permanent employees typically keep their coats, purses and wallets safe and sound at their desk, but hoteling employees don’t have the luxury of a space to call their own. Be sure to provide every visiting worker with a safe place to keep these belongings so that they can feel comfortable leaving the items behind while they attend meetings. The easiest way to accomplish this is to equip each hoteling desk with a mobile filing cabinet that has locking capabilities. You can further increase the functionality of the office by purchasing files that have padded cushions on the top. This way, managers and other employees can use the file as a seat during impromptu conversations at the person’s desk.

Take hoteling work habits into consideration. Not all employees have the same working styles, and not every job entails the same type of work. For example, a team of graphic designers working on the same project may require a large shared workspace, while an accountant working on a solo project may just need one quiet cubical to get the job done.

Implementing hoteling in your corporate office can be an effective way to save money and to provide telecommuters with an open invitation to stop by any time.

Brand Spotlight: izzydesign

Izzy+, also called izzydesign, is a brand that’s all about furniture designs that are cool, affordable, personal, functional and supportive of new work styles. Whether telecommuting or collaborating, izzy+ wants to ensure that people have the furniture that they need to get the job done. In fact, izzy+ is dedicated to helping people and to creating environmentally-friendly furniture. We’ve decided to shine our brand spotlight on izzydesign and feature some of our favorite collections from this unique, eye-catching brand.

The HAG Capisco Collection

Saddle Back Chair from Izzy+

The HAG Capsico Collection consists of four different seating options, all featuring a distinctive saddle seat and back design. These seats were created to enhance comfort, promote movement throughout the day and support numerous seating positions. With the BalancedMovement mechanism, these chairs will move forward and backward with you as you move for increased mobility, flexibility and comfort. Lastly, these chairs are a prime example of izzy+ and their dedication to providing environmentally-friendly furniture options. This entire collection has been SCS Indoor Advantage Gold Certified and has been Level 1 Certified, meeting high sustainability standards.

The Nemo Collection


Looking to incorporate a media table to foster teamwork? If so, you’ve found the right set with this izzydesign Nemo Collection.This collection features sleek, powered conference tables, perfect for collaborative spaces, in three different sizes. These tables offer integrated power modules, allowing for interactive meetings and great group collaboration. There are even additional storage hooks to accommodate users. Best of all, the Nemo Collection brings a modern and streamlined design to any space, whether it be placed in a meeting room, a break room or another collaborative space. Like the HAG Capisco collection, it too is Level 1 Certified, as it supports high sustainability efforts and improves indoor air quality.

 The Jazz Collection

The Jazz Collection from izzydesign

The Jazz Collection features seating that can increase both the style and function of your workspace. Whether you are need of a chair to pair with a desk or you’re looking for a stool to match a counter height café table, this collection is ideal. The collection features superior comfort and bright bold colors so that you can make a statement with your workplace design. These chairs are also incredibly lightweight, making mobility a breeze, and extremely durable, ensuring years of lasting use.

The Arc Collection2-10-Arc-Collection

Designed by Jonas Damon, the Arc collection, consisting of various seating options, has been carefully crafted to fit beautifully in any workplace or healthcare facility. The collection features a durable construction with 14 gauge steel legs and die-cast aluminum chassis and is upholstered in your choice of thermoplastic, fabric or molded wood. With clean lines and elegant design, any one of the chairs from this collection is sure to seat you and your guests in comfort and style.


How to Incorporate Artwork into Your Office

hanging pictures

Incorporating artwork into your office can enhance the overall environment and the image that your company portrays to customers and employees. You’ve probably seen a ton of articles that discuss the pros and cons of open office floor plans versus private offices—casual versus formal. It all comes down to the wellbeing of the employee. Think about it—a happy employee will be a better employee who will produce better results in his or her work. Adding the right art to your workspace is a cost-effective way to promote mental health within the office.

Color: The color of your office art is hugely important. Although you may love that bright yellow canvas print you saw online last weekend, it may not be the best choice for your space. Certain colors make us feel specific emotions, so be sure to choose wisely when painting your office and while selecting artwork.

  • Red creates a sense of intensity and can also increase your appetite.
  • Orange creates a sense of excitement and warmth.
  • Yellow creates a sense of cheerfulness, but can strain the eyes easily.
  • Green creates a sense of tranquility and peace.
  • Blue creates a sense of calmness and can actually make you more productive.
  • Purple creates a sense of wealth and success.
  • Brown creates a practical, earthy feeling, but it can also encourage boredom.
  • White creates the sense of space.
  • Black can create a sense of sophistication, but it can also make a room feel smaller if used too much.

As you can see, the colors you use in your office artwork can greatly impact the way your employees work. Because it is the most productive color, blue is commonly used in office settings.

Shape and Form: Shape is created when one area of a piece of art is defined from the space next to it. Mechanical shapes in the form of geometric patterns create a sense of order and control. Organic shapes, on the other hand, are free form and much more complex, giving off a sense of creativity.

Texture: Texture refers to the way a surface physically feels or is perceived to visually feel, and it can make a big difference in the mood your office artwork puts you in. Smooth textures are more likely to make you feel calm, while rough textures give off a more complex, intense feel.

Space: The right amount of space in a work of art can create a sense of serenity or urgency, both of which could be beneficial depending on what your company culture is like. Overlapping, shading, highlighting and perspective are all elements that create space within a piece of art.

Remember, no two offices will benefit from the same artwork in the exact same way. If you work in a space where employees tend to work independent of one another, then your office may benefit from serene nature scenes; however, if you work in an open office space where collaboration is key, then your employees may become more easily inspired by bright, bold colors or motivational prints. Analyze your office culture and environment to determine what style will be best for your employees.