Custom Office Chairs = Expensive?

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What is a custom ergonomic chair? This is a question often asked of us, but the answer really depends on who’s asking the question.

Having built office chairs from our Burnside facility for over 23 years, we’ve served all kinds of applications, in all kinds of markets. Providing task chairs, executive chairs, guest chairs, 24 hour chairs, industrial chairs, special purpose chairs, and single purpose chairs, in hotels, hospitals, schools, small offices, corporate offices, public and private back to work applications, back pain or other medical applications.

When we started designing and building chairs in 1989, we were small, we were tight for space, tight on money, resources, tools and equipment. We figured out pretty quick that chair components take up less space on the shelf, than does a fully built office chair. So, we began our business building for orders, not for stock. What we found was that this model served the one-off chair order particularly well. Making modifications didn’t interrupt our day, it made our day, and to this day, we still construct our chairs for orders, not for stock, and to this day the majority of our orders are for one-off applications.

We’ve learned that people actually want a choice. They want a choice in style, colour, height, & width. They want a choice in fabrics, vinyl’s and leathers. They even want a choice in comfort and fit.

As individuals, we are all different. Height does not dictate seat pan length or necessarily chair height. We’ve seen people 5’ and change, sporting thighs longer than most 6′ tall men. We’ve seen otherwise perfectly normal people, with abnormally long or short arms. Our clients have ranged in height from 4’6” to 6’10”. Off-the-shelf chair solutions are no solutions at all at these extremes.

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When a hotel is ordering chairs for their guest rooms, more often than not, it will be a basic office chair designed to fit the 5th to 95th percentile. If that’s you, great. The only customization here might be an embroidered logo, or a fabric choice in keeping with their brand.

A corporate office is all about the same. The same cubicle, same workstation, same colour theme, same computers. The logistics of outfitting a workforce with even minimal turnover with anything but an off-the-shelf office chair is unthinkable. (to the accountants, in their 60′s, in the 80′s) You could say that style or colour might be a custom feature here.

Any waiting area should have approximately 10% of their chairs designed for bariatric applications. Larger people quickly recognize chairs that won’t fit. So, again not much customization here but for a small percentage of the chairs to be a different size.

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Someone suffering from Coccydynia (Tailbone Pain) can benefit from softer foam or removing the portion of the seat pan that sits below the tailbone. Easily customized in a build to orderbusiness model such as ours.

Patients who have had a spinal fusion resulting from Scoliosis or degenerative disc disease may require the chair back be offset to meet their very individual needs. This might mean vertically mounting one or more blow up lumbar supports, or in extreme cases a utilizing a poured back using expanding foam and the patient as the mould. While extreme, not an overly demanding modification in a build to order process once the upfront consultation and evaluation has taken place.

Theme chairs may incorporate shape or a variety of fabric or vinyl products to promote their theme. Everything from tartans, to cork, to simulated wood grain, to artificial turf is available these days to give a chair character or purpose. Again, not an issue when you build for orders.

Chairs_Limited_Heart_Theme_Custom_ChairSo, customizing a chair means something different to everyone, no matter the market, no matter the application. Is it expensive? Not when it’s the only thing we’ve ever done. For us, it’s business as usual. More to the point, does it have value? An investment in your brand, corporate culture or employee wellness will always deliver significant value, and return on investment.

Who’s our ideal customer? Anyone who needs 1 to 1000 chairs, wants choices, and wants them quickly.

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