HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — OFM, a leading office and school furniture manufacturer, distributor, and wholesaler, has expanded an innovative program called “OFM University,” which it launched last year. The initiative has evolved into not just being a powerful cross-training tool, but also the company’s main vehicle for internal communications.
“A lot of times people in a business have only a vague idea of what the folks down the hall are doing all day long or things happening within the company,” said Blake Zalcberg, chief executive officer of OFM. “The classes we offer through OFM University have not only helped everyone here learn how to work with other departments more effectively, it’s become an invaluable tool to communicate internally about anything from new products being launched to our corporate philosophy.”
Now in its second year, the program, which is popular among OFM’s employees, allows every worker in the 36-person company to engage directly with their coworkers through lectures and small group discussions.
OFM University started in 2012 after an internal suggestion box showed nearly 70 percent of employees wanted to know more about what other departments do within the company. The initiative is one part of the company’s Ownership Thinking program, which helps build morale among employees and encourages them to be active participants in OFM’s financial success.
A steering committee determines which courses are taught through OFM University and each class is led by an employee most familiar with the topic such as shipping and palletizing freight, the sales process, and macroeconomic business factors including currency valuation and economic trends. There’s even a class for each of the company’s core values: pride, teamwork, trust, passion, respect, and integrity. The latest class being offered focuses on new OFM products for 2014.
“The fact that the classes are taught by your peers really makes a difference in how effectively we communicate internally,” added Zalcberg. “If you’re teaching a class, you want to make sure that you keep it interesting. And if you’re taking a class, you want to make sure that you’re paying attention.”
OFM University is part of a larger trend among businesses hoping to promote creative thinking and an entrepreneurial culture among employees. As a small, family-owned business, OFM already has a good working environment, but the courses help ensure that everyone is thinking about the company as a whole.
“There’s more to a business than just the bottom line. There’s also its internal culture, which ultimately affects how effectively we work,” said Zalcberg. “That takes a lot of time to build, but with OFM University we’ve transformed from a group of people who have to work together into people that get to work together.”
Founded in 1995, OFM is a leading office and school furniture manufacturer, distributor, and wholesaler with headquarters in Holly Springs, N.C. and operations in Phoenix, Ariz., and Taiwan. OFM contracts with manufacturers in Mexico, Taiwan and China to design furniture and products that meet the highest industry standards. It specializes in providing affordable, quality furniture through a dealer network to businesses, government offices, health care and educational facilities. OFM products are sold through a variety of retailers, mail-order catalogs and online dealers including Office Depot, Wayfair, Overstock, and National Business Furniture.
To learn more about OFM, visit: http://www.ofminc.com.
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