Downtown, in a little office just off of University and Sixth Street, sits a little company selling big ideas in interior design to Gainesville businesses.
“We sell solutions, we just happen to leave furniture behind,” said Judy Osbirn, Office Environments (OE) account executive and Gainesville store runner. “We help companies and businesses make the most of their three most valuable assets: their real estate, their technology and their people.”
OE is a Herman Miller contract office furniture company that offers space planning, interior design and contract office furniture, as well as accessories, art and furniture from 200 to 300 different manufacturers. It was founded in 1991 as O&M Health Systems. In 2002, the company acquired the rights to sell Herman Miller products within its territory, which includes Gainesville, Birmingham, Huntsville, Pensacola and Tallahassee. Osbirn has worked in Gainesville for two years, and she opened the Gainesville office in May 2013.
“I’ve been extremely pleased with how the Gainesville community has welcomed a startup company like myself,” she said. Furniture is an intricate business that takes years to learn, she said, so OE looked for someone with experience who could come to town and start selling furniture before investing in an office. OE and Herman Miller funded her almost daily trips to Gainesville from Orlando, and during those trips she knocked on the University’s door for business and met Front Street Realty’s Nick Banks, who introduced her to the right people in town.
Now, the Gainesville office consists of herself, interior designer and UF graduate Xhylin Nogues, and the ERC installation company, which Osbirn brought with her from Orlando and based in Lake City so that they would be more central to both Gainesville and Tallahassee.
Osbirn does business by both walk-in and appointment. OE can handle fast jobs or extended jobs, simple $2,000 office redesigns or complex $200,000 redesigns. OE has successfully redesigned the Innovation Academy at UF, AGTC in Alachua and the Affiliated Engineers headquarters in Tioga Towncenter, the last of which she said totally changed the company’s employee dynamics.
“The engineers used to be in giant workstations and now they’re in very efficient, smaller spaces, but when you hear their management team talk about how it changed their dynamics in the office it’s actually heartwarming,” she said. “All these engineers never talked to each other, and they used to come in, go to their cubicles, work and go home, and now they talk, share stories and share ideas. It really did change their culture, which is something we try to do.”
OE’s big project right now is helping design the interior of the new UF Heavener Hall, at the corner of University and 13th Street, from the ground up. Usually, she said, the university will present a space and a budget for redesign, but with Heavener she has been working on the project since April of last year. A UF delegation took a trip to Michigan to visit Herman Miller with the OE team so that Osbirn could show exactly what they wanted to do, present the product and talk them through the local support they would receive.
OE’s focus will stay on the university in the future, she said, because of the amount of business they offer, but she’s working hard to get the business of incoming downtown companies. After a successful first year, Osbirn said that she would like to move the office into a larger space in Innovation Square so that she stays near the fastest growing area in Gainesville while hiring on sales, support and design staff.
“Brian McMahon, president and co-owner of Office Environments, has been in business for 25 years, and he said he thinks Gainesville, with its growth potential, could be one of the highest grossing offices,” she said. “I certainly have no regrets leaving Orlando.”
To preview Office Environments products or to get in touch with Judy Osbirn please visit www.officeenvironments.com/Contact-Us/Gainesville.