Wood Industry Market Leader: Eric Wolff, the Stow Co.
November 29, 2011 | 11:46 am CST
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With a background in public accounting, Eric Wolff has put his talent for analytics to good use. As president and CEO of the Stow  Co., Wolff has led the Holland, MI-based company in becoming a premier manufacturer of home organization products.

Prior to Stow, Wolff held management level positions with office furniture giants Herman Miller and Steelcase. “Through my experiences in the furniture industry, I recognized the elements of a successful business: intelligent design, quality workmanship and a positive, rewarding work environment. These same elements also hold true in the home organization industry.”

Wolff says he is equally proud of the company’s environmental initiatives and commitment to continuous improvement. “Sustainability is a sound business practice,” Wolff says. “We are proud that our company has achieved Forest Stewardship Council certification, which makes a bold statement that we take sustainability seriously.

“Environmental responsibility has become an expectation of consumers; they prefer to buy from responsible companies that produce high-quality products designed to last. Our FSC certification (FSC CO28471) and centralized manufacturing provide reassurance to consumers that they are making a good purchasing decision,” he adds.

Like others in the secondary wood products industry, the Stow Co. also is facing the challenges of a capricious economy. “Often the main challenges are not driven from the marketplace, but are a result of macro influences,” Wolff says. “Economic issues affect consumer purchasing power and spending habits — something we cannot control. Our plan is to be adaptable as the playing field changes.”

Other challenges to be navigated include increased raw material costs. Wolff says the Stow Co. will address these “by continuing to develop and implement lean processes that will reduce costs and save time. Additionally, we have invested in new equipment which will improve our manufacturing efficiencies.”

Wolff says the future goals are simple: to continue to grow sales and maintain Stow’s position as a leader in the home organization industry, including its advancements in the garage niche and growing the ORG comprehensive product line, as well as the Easy Track and EasyClosets.com brands. “Our continual investment in the business will serve as a catalyst for achieving these goals,” he says.

Quick Glimpse

• Education: Accounting major, Central Michigan University 
• Years at the company: 12 
• Years in the industry: 13 
• Word that best describes you: Driven 
• The person you have tried to emulate in business and why: I am fortunate to have worked
with a lot of great people in the past and present. One thing I started early in my career was consciously writing down a trait or process I observed from leaders with whom I worked.

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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at [email protected]