CICERO — Roberts Office Furniture Concepts, Inc. is opening its first design showroom in the Syracuse area, moving into the site of a former Hechinger home-improvement store.
The showroom, which Roberts is leasing at 7387 Frontage Road in Cicero, is 40,000 square feet. The company scheduled a grand opening for March 13.
Roberts designs, fabricates, and remanufactures office furniture. It is headquartered at 7327 Henry Clay Boulevard in Clay.
The new showroom is a way to teach consumers about remanufactured furniture, says Scott Barcza, president and co-owner of Roberts Office Furniture Concepts. Customers must sometimes be convinced that the furniture is equal in quality to new products, he says.
“It’s an educational showroom more than anything,” Barcza says. “People who come in will leave being able to make educated decisions.”
Remanufacturing involves dismantling furniture and rebuilding it. Roberts Office Furniture Concepts refinishes any worn surfaces and replaces damaged parts. Its capabilities range from powder coating to manufacturing new steel kick plates.
“Remanufacturing is redevelopment of a product back to its [original equipment manufacturer] finish,” Barcza says. “Our materials are the same materials that the manufacturers use.”
The new Roberts showroom received $150,000 in renovations. Improvements include new carpet, walls, and paint, as well as energy-efficient lighting tied to motion sensors. Longley Jones Management Corp. manages the building and also managed renovations, according to Barcza.
Roberts handled the building’s interior design. The company financed work on the showroom using a loan from Beacon Federal.
The new showroom will allow Roberts Office Furniture Concepts to display its full range of office furniture for clients, Barcza says.
“Most of our corporate users don’t know the breadth of what we do,” he says. “They want to see more.”
The showroom will even be useful for out-of-state clients, which make up about 60 percent of Roberts’ sales, according to Barcza. Out-of-state clients have visited Roberts’ headquarters in Cicero in the past, but have come to view its remanufacturing process. Now, they will be able to go to the showroom to see its range of products.
Roberts Office Furniture Concepts focuses on selling in Ohio and states to the east of the Buckeye State, ranging as far south as North Carolina and as far north as New Hampshire. Its corporate clients are often interested in remanufactured furniture because the company reuses material and is environmentally friendly, according to Barcza.
“Our [client] base is that corporate level that has sustainability policies in place,” he says. “In Syracuse, it’s an incredibly different market.”
Just 40 percent of Roberts’ sales take place in New York, and most of those sales are in Rochester, not Syracuse, Barcza says. That’s because of a retail location, Office Werks of Rochester, that sells Roberts Office Furniture Concepts products. Roberts owns half of that retail operation, and a partner, Bret DeVito, owns the other half.
Roberts officials hope the introduction of a showroom will boost sales to businesses in Central New York.
“They will see that remanufactured furniture is indistinguishable from new,” says Roberts Executive Vice President Patrick Anson. “If there are any questions, we’ll be prepared to come over [to Roberts headquarters in Clay] to where they can actually see the remanufacturing process.”
About 10 employees will work at the new showroom. Roberts plans to add some employees to help staff the new store, but company leaders do not yet know how many they will add. Staff working at the showroom will be dual-purpose employees who also work at Roberts’ headquarters in Clay.
Roberts Office Furniture Concepts currently does all of its manufacturing and design work at its Clay headquarters, which is an 80,000-square-foot building that the company owns. It also stocks some inventory in the building, although Roberts leaders would like to lease another facility in the area to take over those storage duties.
The company will shift some of its design capabilities to the new design showroom. Three to five designers will work at the showroom at one time, offering expertise in interior design and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.
Sustainable-furniture purchases — furniture that contains postconsumer material, salvaged material, renewable material, or locally processed material — can contribute to points needed for LEED certification.
Roberts Office Furniture Concepts currently has 47 full-time employees on its payroll, about 10 of which it added in the past year. The company added five of those employees with its eye on having them work at the new showroom.
The company also works closely with several affiliated firms, whose employees give it a total of about 85 people working from its headquarters. Roberts officials declined to name those other companies or elaborate on their affiliation.
Roberts Office Furniture Concepts has exclusive-supplier agreements with Roberts Metal Fabrication Shop at 1943 Teall Ave. in Salina and Roberts Millwork Shop in Williamstown in Oswego County. Roberts Office Furniture Concepts leaders declined to discuss those companies’ ownership.
Roberts Office Furniture Concepts also leases a 75,000-square-foot warehouse on Lepage Place in DeWitt.
Barcza declined to share revenue totals for Roberts Office Furniture Concepts. However, he says the company plans 30 percent revenue growth over the next three years.
Scott Barcza owns Roberts Office Furniture Concepts along with his father, Robert Barcza. The son owns 20 percent of the company, while the father owns 80 percent.