In the Hot Seat: 5 Questions with Dean Jeffery

by Andrea Reynolds

After a successful year working with some high-profile chains (Chipotle, Wendy’s, and Freshii to name a few), Grand Rapids Chair is primed and ready for even more heavyweight collaborations in 2017. Speaking with Dean Jeffery, director of marketing and new product development, we learned that Grand Rapids Chair’s success and partnerships can be credited to pushing design and durability in a fresh, new direction. Barstools, and Bentwood Chairs at  TGI Friday's

1. The industry is saturated with domestic and foreign restaurant furniture suppliers. What makes Grand Rapids Chair’s perspective “fresh”?

We made a commitment three years ago to team up with emerging industrial designers to take restaurant furniture design to the next level with a thoughtful and informed approach. Those collaborations combined with our 20 years of experience allow us to bring interesting and durable products to market.

We think restaurant furniture design should be simple. While it’s not rocket science, there are small yet impactful details that turn a good chair into a great chair. For example, knowing which glide is suitable for your floor, understanding optimal sit times for certain segments, and balancing cost with design and durability.

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2. American-made is often synonymous with quality, but what else does American-made mean?

We’re proud of being one of the few remaining restaurant furniture manufacturers in America. To us that means being able to provide three things: higher quality products, more customization options, and better customer service.

We test every product to meet or exceed BIFMA standards—a strict regulatory performance standard not commonly used by our competitors, which is why we can offer one of the longest warranties in the industry. Every chair or table that leaves our factory is thoroughly inspected by a team of quality engineers.

We’re also equipped to handle custom orders through a dedicated project manager and customer service team. Our partners have been happy to find that we can quickly accommodate changes to product finishes, quantities, and timelines through our services. Finally, because we’re a US manufacturer, we have shorter, competitive lead times.

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3. What is Grand Rapids Chair’s role when working with chains to refresh or rebrand their stores?

We won’t replace a branding agency or design firm, but we do help brands evaluate, select, and even design a custom chair or table. After delivery, we continue to value engineer their products, run stocking programs, and provide expansion support. We want to help our partners grow, and we enjoy growing with them as well.

4. Looking ahead, what can we expect from your 2017 collection?

While I can’t divulge all our secrets, but I can tell you we have some exciting launches and collaborations ahead. Our new products will continue to push the envelope of restaurant furniture design while maintaining our commitment to durability.

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