In The Hot Seat: 3 Questions With Jill Frey

by Andrea Reynolds

For a restaurant, good food and great service go hand-in-hand. It's rare to find a restaurant that can thrive, let alone survive, without mastering both of those qualities. Being a restaurant furniture manufacturer, we share a similar fate.  Speaking with Jill Frey, vice president of marketing and customer experience, learn how Grand Rapids Chair Company balances that delicate combination of refreshing product designs and a dedication to fast, friendly service. 

WholeFoods_Reece.jpgReece Barstools in Whole Foods, via. Paulo Marroquin

What differentiates your company from others in the marketplace?

Jill Frey: First and foremost, we prioritize product design. We focus on creating the most modern and covetable set of standard products for our customers to choose from. We do that by collaborating with industrial designers, up-and-coming design studios, and even social media influencers to get a better sense of what diners are looking for. It’s simple—restaurant spaces are innately fun; selecting your restaurant furniture should be a natural extension of that. We believe designers shouldn’t have to strain to find standard products that fit a modern aesthetic. We’re diligent in keeping a finger on the pulse of interior design, fashion, and technology. For instance, we’re launching a new color palette that includes a rust, a pale blue, an olive green, and a perfect grey. They look fantastic on minimal collections like our Hurdle and in modern spaces with polished cement floors and natural wood tones.

Secondly, underneath that striking design is a chair diligently tested for high-use. So much of restaurant furniture—especially trendier pieces—can be poorly manufactured. Our customers need to be confident that their chosen products are not a financial or facility risk. It’s why our products are backed by a 10-year standard warranty.

GRChair_Welder.jpgGrand Rapids Chair Company welder making a custom chair for Arby's

How are you working with designers or restaurant concepts to customize a unique solution?

JF: We know our customers have a passion for creating unique, branded spaces, so we offer a menu of personalized services ranging from custom colors to ground-up product development. It’s amazing how a custom color on a standard product can transform a restaurant or bring school spirit to a college cafeteria. Conversely, we’re also equipped to develop and manufacture an entirely custom product. These services are here to help designers bring their brands to life.

Trust us, great design drives sales. Read more here. 

Wendys QSR Rebrand.jpgCustom Designed Chair for Wendy's

How are you able to serve the larger scale requirements associated with a chain re-design rollout or a new concept design?

JF: Because our manufacturing facility is in Michigan, we can be agile. With a three-shift capacity, our leads times can be as short as two weeks. Changes can be made to orders on the fly and a custom chair can be designed, prototyped, and manufactured in as little as four months. We know from twenty years of experience that flexibility from a product and service perspective is a critical need for our customers. The “American-made” mantra not only applies to our quality products, but our quality and reliable services, too. It’s something we’re proud of and continue to expand and improve every day.

* This Q&A was originally published in the November issue of RD+D Magazine.

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