It’s a critical, yet sometimes overlooked office staple. It sets the stage for your company’s image, your client’s comfort and your employees’ success. Like a receptionist answering a customer call, it speaks volumes about your business. If your office furniture is outdated or in bad shape, your clients may wonder if your company is, too. Fortunately, there’s a man on a mission to help every company across the country present a professional appearance without breaking their budget.
Monte Knudson is a pretty laid back guy – until you start talking about office furniture. Then, he becomes a sort of superhero. No, he doesn’t don a cape or wear a mask, but Knudson does seem to take on superhero qualities in his quest to find the best quality at the lowest prices.
“The search never gets old,” says the owner of National Office Liquidators. “I really enjoy finding products at good prices and passing them along to customers. Seeing their reactions is priceless.”
Finding the highest-quality new and used furniture requires a lot of travel and a little superhero-like vision. Knudson and his team visit manufacturers around the world and sift through thousands of pieces. While Knudson doesn’t have x-ray vision, he does have the ability to see through miles of furniture and zoom in on what will work.
“A lot of times we may only find one or two products we like and we’ll buy a large quantity,” he explains.
From desks to cubicles, chairs to cabinets, you can view the massive inventory on the company’s website or at one of their showrooms located in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Tustin, Calif. National Office Liquidators offers a mix of new and reconditioned furniture featuring top companies like Herman Miller, Steelcase, Haworth, Knoll and Hon.
“When we purchase used office furniture, we are very selective. We like to purchase large quantities of slightly used office furniture from many select companies, including fortune 50 and 100 companies nationwide that are remodeling or moving into new buildings,” Knudson says. “Our reconditioned products are carefully restored, in good working order and presented with limited signs of wear and no tears.”
Monte Knudson’s footprint in the furniture industry goes back more than 25 years when he first made and sold furniture in Phoenix. He began by selling door-to-door and then opened a warehouse where he and a partner manufactured furniture that was sold directly to retailers.
Things were going well until 2005, when the roof literally caved in. “Our landlord was having the sprinkler system checked out and when they left they forgot to turn the alarm back on,” he says. “Over the weekend, our roof collapsed breaking the main water pipe and flooded the machinery and furniture.”
While Knudson felt like he lost everything, he still had decades of valuable contacts and knowledge and a never-give-up attitude. “Instead of selling to stores, I decided to sell to the public and offer large discounts. I found a niche and went for it.”
One of those valuable contacts was Rick Horne who had represented Knudson’s manufacturing company and now serves as sales manager at the Houston store. “He was then and is now a forward-thinking individual,” Horne says. “It has been my experience that few people are willing to make the commitment to excellence that Monte has exhibited in his life.”
In 2011, Horne was tapped to open the 28,000 sq. ft. Tustin showroom. “It was a challenge,” he says. “Everyone jumped in to help. It is this kind of atmosphere that makes me appreciate being part of the family of National Office Liquidators.”
One of Horne’s favorite memories came shortly before moving to Houston. He was rearranging furniture when a customer walked in and said, “This is the Holy Grail of office furniture.”
“I will never forget that comment,” he says. “It just states in one sentence the impression we are trying to create for everyone who walks in.”
National Office Liquidators is also a family-run business. When Knudson’s son, Rheo, started with the company seven years ago there was no front office set aside for him. Knudson wanted his son to gain knowledge and respect for the company.
“I wanted him to start from the bottom and see how it really works and then, down the road at some point if he wants to take over the business, he will truly understand what it takes to get a business started and keep it running,” Knudson says.
“When I started, my main responsibility was sweeping the warehouse,” says Rheo Knudson. “My dad wanted me to work for my position and over the years he has groomed me to be a confident team leader and valuable company asset.”
Rheo Knudson is now the sales manager in Phoenix where he duplicates his father’s passion for building relationships and doing the right thing, “I always put myself in my customer’s shoes and ask, ‘Does this furniture fill my customer’s need? Will it work in their office environment? Is it within their budget?’”
Monte Knudson not only enjoys mentoring his son, but also other employees. He often reminds them not to let egos get in the way, “Sometimes in business you’re not always right and there are others that come up with good ideas,” he says.
Perseverance is another quality he pushes, “Things change and I want to make sure that I’m focused and I embrace it,” he says. “Knowing that obstacles will come up, you can overcome them and continue.”
After more than 25 years in the business, Knudson has found the recipe for success is pretty simple – make your customers happy. Over the years he has seen other business owners more focused on making a buck than earning a customer. It’s a route he refuses to take.
Putting customers first also keeps customers like Steve Zimmer with the Stepan Company coming back. For the past three years, National Office Liquidators has furnished their offices large or small.
Knudson says, “I’ve always focused on taking care of the customer and everything else will fall into place, “he says.
That philosophy is definitely working. Knudson says National Office Liquidators experienced 30 percent growth in 2013. They plan to open two new stores in 2014 with more to follow.
While growing his own business, Knudson takes pride in helping other businesses save money while projecting a polished image. Each store also reinforces Knudson’s commitment to local economies. His current workforce of 50-plus will increase with each new location.
“When you’re doing something you like and creating opportunities for others and they’re excited, it makes it all good,” he says.
Shelly Frigetto’s experience as an emergency medical technician (EMT) kicked in as soon as she answered the phone at National Office Liquidators in Phoenix.
“I’m having a furniture emergency,” the caller said.
Shelly instructed the caller to breathe slowly and tell her what was wrong. The caller had been in charge of finding furniture for her company’s newest location. Just three days before their grand opening, she received a grim diagnosis – the company she thought she could rely on told her they couldn’t get the furniture and cancelled the whole order.
Still calling upon her EMT training, Shelly asked questions and assessed the situation. She learned the caller needed furniture for 8 offices, one conference room and one reception area. And, it needed to get to Colorado Springs, Colorado – 800 miles away – within the next three days.
Shelly began searching for a cure. Going through the inventory, she not only found what the caller needed, but also beat the other company’s price. Then, Shelly put on her dispatcher hat and rerouted a truck that was headed for Chicago so it would make the critical stop in Colorado Springs.
With the help of Shelly and National Office Liquidators, the caller not only survived her furniture emergency, but she also protected her company’s fiscal health.
2007 Monte Knudson founded the company to sell office furniture direct to customers in person and online.
2007 NOL opened its first store in Chicago featuring reconditioned Herman Miller, Steelcase, Haworth, Knoll & Hon products.
2007 Rheo Knudson joined his father Monte in the business.
2008 NOL opened its warehouse in Phoenix, also home to corporate headquarters.
2011 NOL opened a store in Tustin, California.
2013 Nickyle Knudson joined his father Monte and brother Rheo in the business.
2013 NOL opened stores in Dallas and Houston.
2014 NOL plans to open stores in two new locations. More stores are planned in upcoming years.