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2016 Year in Review

Every January, our team at Marshall Furniture looks for new ways to continue our success and growth throughout the new year. To do this, we often look back at the previous year to evaluate our accomplishments and to determine our upcoming product and marketing focuses. Looking back at 2016, however, had a two-fold purpose for us. Last year, we were lucky enough to celebrate our 30th year in business. We celebrated in a variety of ways, like giveaways and prizes, but also by showing off our high-quality custom craftsmanship skills at tradeshows like Infocomm. What we discovered when we discussed last year's sales was that 2016 was filled with a variety of interesting and creative projects. Our design team each had their favorites so we felt it was only appropriate that we give those designs the attention they deserve. With 2016 still fresh in our minds, we'd like to take the opportunity to share, in detail, aspects of our most memorable projects.


Customer: (university name withheld)

Dealer: (dealer name withheld)

Product: MLP-39.125 ADA Lectern

MFI Sales Engineer: Joyce Nemenyi

A private, ivy-league university contacted Marshall Furniture looking for a lectern that could accommodate users with disabilities and fit a large amount of racked equipment. After discussing possible options with Joyce Nemenyi, she suggested that they implement height adjust and a pullout surface into their piece as these would incorporate elements essential to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, to create a compact, fully-racked unit, a full standard-width bay of rack was coupled with a half-bay of vertical rack to save space.


"After several revisions, it came to light that the customer did not have enough room for a pullout surface. This created an issue as this option is essential for ADA compatibility since it allows seated presenters equal access to equipment, incorporates proper reach ranges and allows for adequate knee space," explains Joyce.  "It became necessary to re-evaluate our traditional ADA lectern design." Several alternatives were presented to the client but ultimately, they settled on a reengineered design that allowed the surface to articulate to the side rather than forward. "This new design forced us to really flex our creative design muscles. Rather than focusing on drafting a lectern for a seated user, we were now contending with space issues. We really had to re-think the way we approached our traditional ADA lectern layout," she says.

It was at this point that another ADA issue presented itself. The customer raised concerns that several users with limited hand mobility may have trouble properly grasping or pulling the t-handle that unlocks the pullout surface. Therefore, it was decided that the surface should be put on a linear actuator instead. This was controlled by a rocker switch, which allowed users to simply lean their hand or am against part of the switch to activate the pullout surface. "It's typical, in our design process, for changes like this to come up. We often have to think on our toes since customization is the name of the game," says Joyce. "Coming up with a solution to this particular customer concern required us to really put our heads together but ultimately, the alterations to the standard layout worked out fantastically."

Customer: Calhoun Community College

Dealer: Howard Technology Solutions

Product: SCM-240 and SCM-640 Desks

MFI Sales Engineer: Matt Wulfekuhle

During early summer 2016, Calhoun Community College was working on a 30 classroom build for a new facility. It was during this time that Tyler Johnson, Classroom Technology Integration Specialist from CCC, got in touch with our Sales Engineer, Matt Wulfekuhle, after a direct recommendation from Kelly Turner at Howard Technology Solutions. CCC had a timeline for their furniture build-out that had to be met before classes could begin. In addition, the school was interested in laser-burned logos for each of their 30 pieces, which presented another challenge. "Although [their] design was simplistic, pulling off 30 laser engraved panels within a couple [of] weeks was interesting. It was long hours and required the aid of all involved, but seeing them put together made it all worth it," says Matt.         


Each desk was specified to include racked equipment, cable passage and touch panels for room control. Each style of desk was based on products originally from our Quick Ship line: the SCM-240 and SCM-640. Both finished desks were customized to the school's direct needs and the set-up of each room.


As August began, the desks were split into two shipments in order to meet CCC's deadline and Howard Technology Solutions time-frame for equipment integration. On handling a project such as this, Matt says, "This project was my first experience with a large order that required some design savvy. Attempting to fit all of the needed components and adhere to our Quick Ship designs presented a challenge, but with great patience and even greater colleagues, we were able to pull off the AV furniture requirements."

After each desk found its home, the remainder of the room build was completed and the classrooms set-up for use by the time classes started. "The desks turned out beautifully; I have heard many great comments on them," says Tyler Johnson. "It was a great experience working with Howard and Calhoun to make this project happen," says Matt.

 Customer: School of Music (university name withheld)

Dealer: All Pro Sound

Consultant: Jaffe Holden

Product: Various Studio Furniture

MFI Sales Engineer: Ariel Blaha

After their School of Music was destroyed by flooding in 2008, the school sought to furnish (5) of the re-built control rooms and production offices in 2013. Consultant Jaffee Holden prepared bid documents that called out for different L-shaped configurations to support rack equipment and mixing boards. Sales Engineer, Ariel Blaha, worked on interpreting the university's needs and the consultant's design.


Since the building consisted of entirely new constructio, production of the furniture did not begin until May 2016. The three-year span during which bids were presented, prepared, won and ultimately designed with Marshall Furniture called for attentiveness to detail and flexibility in design around the integrated technology. "Tailoring the designs to meet the different studio requirements presented a fun challenge. Coordinating the details on projects of this nature is an important step to assure things turn out as planned. A lot can change when it comes to AV equipment over a period of 3 years!" says Ariel.


Each of the (5) pieces were designed around each room's equipment requirements and the available space. For example, some of the units had rack in the cabinet bodies while others had patch racks on the work surface. Some had both configurations. All of the furniture pieces were designed and built with a solid wood edge profile to match the edge of the mixer, which created a fully custom and integrated appearance. Ben Bausher, Senior Consultant at Jaffee Holden, says he was particularly pleased with the design process saying, "I definitely appreciate your team's willingness to work with the rest of the design team and contractors...The users were very pleased with the build quality of the furniture."

Customer: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Dealer: GL Seaman & Company

Product: MLP-34 & MLCS-32 Lecterns

MFI Sales Engineer: Joyce Nemenyi

This project began when Marshall Furniture's Sales Engineer, Joyce Nemenyi, received architectural specifications from the customer for several high-end, AV-heavy contemporary lecterns. The customer wanted to incorporate options such as height adjust, internal storage, a recessed LCD, microphone, light, clock timer, power outlets and several grommets for cable passage while maintaining a sleek overall style to the body of the pieces. "FRB of Dallas was very set on creating a modern feel for their podiums. They wanted to ensure that the pieces were not only functional, but visually appealing," says Joyce. Part of that stylistic vision was an interest in incorporating a two-tone finish, which was ultimately accomplished by utilizing two different veneers, Cherry and Walnut, custom matched to two Wilsonart laminate finishes.


"Every aspect of the lecterns were dissected, discussed and designed to ensure a completely unique architectural piece, right down the finish and metal of the locks and pulls," Joyce explains. In addition, Marshall Furniture made accommodation for a logo that the customer indicated they would like to order and adhere at a later time. To allow easy installation in the field, small, pre-drilled holes were included on the face of the lecterns in anticipation of a 12" metal medallion. Hidden hardware was included so that the user could easily secure the logo pins with wing nuts from the inside of the front panel. This method of attachment created a more seamless look.

Because the lecterns were meant to be minimalistic in size, the customer raised concerns over the amount of usable surface space during the design phase. "To create room for user laptops or paperwork, we manufactured a hinged panel to cover the recessed LCD monitor when it was not in use," says Joyce. The panel was finished in the same manner as the rest of the work surface to create uniformity whenever the monitor was covered. "I was very glad to have been given a chance to work with the customer. I feel like we were able to successfully implement all their stylistic and equipment needs."

Customer: DGSOM at UCLA - Geffen Hall, Teaching Lab

Dealer: AVI-SPL

Product: VST-40 x 60 x 90 Tables

MFI Sales Engineer: Ariel Blaha

Marshall Furniture had the privilege of providing a variety of furniture for UCLA's new Geffen Hall Medical Education Building. Our Sales Engineer, Ariel Blaha, was contacted to facilitate a design for several tapered collaboration tables for a flipped classroom teaching space in their Teaching Lab. "The layout of the space and the concept of such a large scale collaborative classroom was intriguing to me from the day the customer brought the project to us to fashion a design," says Ariel.

On the work surface of each table, dual monitors were specified to allow the instructor to display content on one screen while students' content was channeled to the second. "The school's design originally included monitor lift cabinets at the head of each table that would have concealed the displays when not in use. As the project developed, this option was replaced with the stationary monitors which simplified things quite a bit," says Ariel. As a way to keep sight lines clear within the room, especially due to the surface-mounted monitors, some tables were made at standard height while others were fashioned at bar height. Specifically, students seated in the center of the room sat lower than those around the perimeter of the space.


AMX boxes were integrated by AVI-SPL to provide the collaborative connectivity. Custom speakers manufactured by Brown Innovations were installed in the table edge to create a personal sound zone for each student. Below, a credenza base was implemented to provide ample storage space for the rack, whose components ran the entire set-up. As for stylistic elements, Ariel states, "The finish combination selected by the architect resulted in a very linear, modern feel to the tables."


After being delivered and set-up within the teaching space, the room presented a high-end collaborative learning environment. "Working with Ariel Blaha and the Marshall Furniture team is always a pleasure," says Neil Bornn-Gilman, Manager of Audiovisual Services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "The design process for these pieces lasted many months, with numerous updates and modifications as the overall system designs evolved," he says. "The success of the end-product was a direct result of communication and teamwork between the university and Marshall Furniture,"  Neil explains. "This sort of truly collaborative design process, along with Marshall's deep understanding of what it takes to make furniture that can adequately accommodate the power, ventilation, cable pathway and other equipment needs of today's cutting edge AV systems makes Marshall my preferred custom AV furniture vendor." 

Customer: (college name withheld)

Dealer: (dealer name withheld)

Product: Custom ELCO ADA Workstation

MFI Sales Engineer: Michelle Wille

Over the course of 2-years, Michelle Wille worked one-on-one with a community college to develop a model suited to their specific AV and ADA needs. After many design revisions and a slurry of collaboration efforts, the customer's standard design became a reality. The equipment inside the piece consisted of 18 spaces of rack equipment, an Extron Cable Cubby 700 with six Retractors and adequate wheelchair space. "Although accommodating for AV equipment is a standard aspect of our design work, finding space to house the cable box and Retractors alongside our ADA options was tricky," says Michelle. "After multiple discussions, we were able to effectively fit this equipment in an angled wedge on the top surface, which did not impede on the pullout work surface or equipment below."


In order to maintain all ADA aspects of the custom workstation, the Cable Cubby, touch panel and monitors were each positioned at a distance that met proper reach ranges. In addition, the pullout surface option had to be designed to meet height, width and depth guidelines for wheelchair users. Ensuring that the rack equipment within the piece fit properly and did not complicate any of these ADA aspects was also imperative.

In the end, the customer's piece was stylish, compact and technology-rich with the ability to adapt to their learning space. "The college was not looking for something off-the-shelf," explains Michelle. "Our willingness and ability to engineer a custom design in-house allowed all of their factors to seamlessly come together. Collectively, we created a hybrid piece that will hopefully become a staple on their campus."

Customer: (university name withheld)

Dealer: (dealer name withheld)

Product:  MDW-106.375 Desk

MFI Sales Engineer: Joyce Nemenyi

A long-time customer of Marshall Furniture contacted Joyce Nemenyi as they were in need of an update to their traditional angled desk/lectern hybrid design. The customer specified a few changes to the equipment cut outs and overall lectern size but the usual components in the piece, like racked equipment, monitor arms and cable pass, stayed the same. All the options were encompassed in a L-shaped design in which the lectern was double-wide for a one-person desk to sit perpendicular to it. "At first, it seemed like the project was going to be a straightforward build similar to what we have seen in the past with this customer. It was only once we were in the final approval stages that the furniture design did a complete 180," explains Joyce.

The customer discovered that their traditional angled desk build would not work in the space that they were trying to fill. "The room was set-up differently and it would not have fit or allowed users to interact with the piece correctly," says Joyce. After some internal discussions, the customer opted to angle small desks on either side of a lectern located in the middle to create a 3-piece wedge-shaped ensemble that still allowed integration of a storage rack and monitor arms. The entire unit was designed with cable pass and ease of access throughout. The legs had large cut outs and the lectern had notches on the outside panels and the interior partitions.

     Of the project overall, Joyce had to say this: "I think this new furniture design was a successful alternative that nicely complemented the customer's space and technology needs. I'm glad we were able to accommodate the university's design change at the last second to create a beautiful, high-end desk for their faculty."

Customer: Providence College

Dealer: HB Communications

Product: MRP-40 Lectern

MFI Sales Engineer: Tom Feldkamp

Tom Feldkamp was contacted by Mike Bohan at HB Communications early in the summer. Mike had spoken with Providence College and had recently attended Infocomm 2016 where he had seen Marshall Furniture's booth. He explained that he was very impressed with our work and wanted to specify our product for Providence's president, who was looking for a high-end lectern. The customer specifically wanted to have height adjust and mobility, since it was going to be used in multiple venues where the president of the college would be speaking.

During the initial design phase, Marshall's MLP-36 lectern was proposed. After many conference calls, the piece was ultimately changed to our highly-ornate and traditional Raised Panel style. The finished lectern called for height adjust, flush reading lights, dual microphones, a clock timer power, adjustable shelves for equipment storage and cable pass from the left and right sides. Aesthetically, the customer and Tom came up with a very original design that implemented a laser burn of the Providence College torches on the top sides of the lectern, solid wood profiles throughout and notched flutes on the corners. The audience side was shipped with two access panels, both with different laser burned logos of the school's insignia.


"PC [Providence College] had some specific needs," says HB Communications.  "We went through a few revisions and tweaks very smoothly with a conf[erence] call each time. I think making the client part of those conversations was key, instead of my interpretations or probably a missed detail." Because of the open communication that took place between all parties, small details, including the artwork bearing aspects of the school's image, were able to be implanted into the final design. After the piece shipped, the school reached out to say that they were very happy with the end result.

Customer: University of South Carolina Law

Dealer: Clark Powell

Product: MLP-36 Lecterns

MFI Sales Engineer: Ariel Blaha

For over 10 years, Marshall Furniture has been working with and providing Integration-Friendly® furniture for the University of South Carolina. USC's School of Law needed a lectern that was a variation of their standardized design and worked with Sales Engineer, Ariel Blaha, to set their plans into motion. To start, Marshall Furniture provided the school with a prototype so that they could physically review all design aspects prior to purchasing the 20 pieces they needed for their upcoming space. The prototype also allowed USC's faculty the opportunity to review available furniture options and request tweaks to the design for their sake before the project hit the production floor. "Working with the group at USC is always a great experience! In this case, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to fly in and meet with everyone to discuss the design," says Ariel.

The finished piece incorporated dual flip up shelves to create an immense work surface, programmable height adjust and space for 12 RU of equipment. Both levelers and casters were installed with a non-standard caster clearance to create the ability to extend the levelers and lift the cabinet off of its wheels once it was in place. Each lectern had the School of Law logo etched onto the front. Three custom color matches were provided from control samples supplied by the architect. 18 lecterns were finished in one color and the other two in different matches.

"Although there were some last-minute adjustments, the overall design came together at the very end, " Ariel explains. "The functionality of the design offers adjustment to the users based on their work surface layout and height preferences."  Marshall Furniture was delighted to be able to provide a long-time customer, USC, with a design that met every aspect of their needs.

Marshall Furniture was able to be a part of so many fantastic, original and interesting design projects last year, these being only a select few of our team's favorites. We are honored to be entering our 31st year in business and know that none of our successes are possible without our dedicated dealers and customers. We are anxious and excited for the fun and creative designs that await us and look forward to working with you and your team. Contact us today if you'd like to share your designs or would like more information to complete your upcoming project.

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