By Danielle Portteus
The new world headquarters for La-Z-Boy Incorporated is more than just a place to work.
“This stands as another milestone in the company’s history,” said Kurt L. Darrow, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the furniture- maker. “It’s cool, stylish, great- looking while not being pretentious.”
The company, which will celebrate 90 years in business next year, celebrated the opening of its $57 million facility Friday, welcoming guests and elected officials to its grand opening celebration.
People filled the atrium to hear Mr. Darrow speak, along with Brooke Shields, the company’s brand ambassador, and Gov. Rick Snyder.
Guests could tour the three-story, 200,000-square-foot facility, which is filled with windows and has an open-air floor plan to promote collaboration.
Ms. Shields, who has been ambassador since 2010, said she was proud to be part of the La- Z- Boy family.
“It’s a beautiful facility and I would like to work here,” the actress told guests. “ This building is a testament to how far La- Z- Boy has come.”
She said it was a pleasure to work with the company and she has enjoyed seeing it evolve.
“You still stayed true to yourselves,” Ms. Shields said. “ You treat the employees like family and that’s rare today.”
She talked about the design of the facility, how she likes the neighborhood- concept workspaces and how the light shines through the windows.
“How breathtaking is this new place?” Ms. Shields asked to a round of applause.
The governor said, looking around, the new building shows the best of the state.
“ When you look around here, you see the best of Michigan, you see the history in this state,” Gov. Snyder said.
The headquarters will foster ideas, development, innovation and creativity, Gov. Snyder said.
“This place represents the Michigan of the future and will set the tone of our legacy,” he said.
Mr. Darrow credited the company’s founders, cousins Edward Knabusch and Edwin Shoemaker whose Floral City Furniture Co. was the forerunner to La-Z-Boy.
“What a wonderful legacy they have left for us,” he said. “I think if they were able to be here, they would be very proud.” The facility took 19 months to construct and was completed on time and on budget despite two difficult winters, Mr. Darrow said. He credited contractor Rudolph Libbe for its efforts to make that happen. Employees moved into the new building this year from the previous site on N. Telegraph Rd., which dates to the Great Depression.
The new headquarters symbolizes where the company is headed in the future, Mr. Darrow said.
“Next year, we begin 90 years in business, all here in Michigan, all here in Monroe,” he said. “ We believe this is where we belong and look forward to the next 90 years.”