The History of Diversified Woodcrafts
Diversified’s founder, Jeff Christensen was working at a glass blowing company after high school making test tubes. A few of that company’s customers were looking for racks to hold test tubes and Jeff thought that he could make them in his dad’s garage. In 1975, he started making racks and selling them to science companies, eventually expanding to other small wood science apparatus. The business started to grow and the science companies started to talk to him about making wood furniture.
About 1980, Jeff and a Wisconsin based science company (Nasco) went fishing one day and came up with ideas for a science furniture line. Shortly after that, Jeff rented a former grocery store building down the street from his parent’s house and started making science furniture. In 1997, there was a fire that destroyed the plant. The company rebuilt a new modern manufacturing facility designed to build furniture and stopped making the small apparatus. In 1997, Jeff sold the company to John Boos Holding Company and retired in his early 40's.
How Diversified Woodcrafts' Products Are Creating Better Learning Environments
Diversified is always looking at how to enhance learning and safety. They look at how multi-functional their furniture can be. For example, their P8000 series of adjustable tables can be used as standard tables, but can also be adjusted so one side is higher than the other so it can be used as an incline plane in physics.
Their wedging table (WT7142M30N) is used to wedge (knead) clay before it’s put on the wheel, but they also added a cutting wire to the table, so you can cut the clay to the size you need as well. When they designed their Forward Vision series of workstations, they listened to teachers complain about standard workstations in classrooms and what wasn’t working for them. They were concerned about having a good sight line to all the students because most workstations had half of the students backs to the teachers. They also wanted storage, but not where the students had easy access to the storage during a lab. And they wanted the sink and fixtures reachable, but not so close that students would be stuffing pencils down the drain or breaking off pencils in the fixtures.
They thought they could redesign a workstation that would solve all their issues. The Forward Vision did that and within a year became the number one selling workstation that Diversified sells.
How Diversified Woodcrafts Drives Innovation As A Company
Diversified looks at innovation in two main areas. It is important for them to continually look at their processes in their plant. They are located in a town of roughly 500 people and the nearest city is 50 minutes away. So, if they want to continue to grow and have enough manpower, they have to find ways to streamline their processes and get higher output through the plant.
When they first started investing in machinery many of their employees were concerned they would be replaced. The opposite happened. They gained capacity, reduced lead times and grew their business.
The other area is in the product area. Their connections to teachers helps them stay innovative. They ask what their challenges are and try to find solutions for their problems with their furniture. An example is the Forward Vision table mentioned above.
Diversified Products In Action
Resources Diversified Woodcrafts Use To Stay Ahead of The Curve
Besides talking to teachers, Diversified is involved in the Ed Market Association, The Council for Art Education and the Hands On Science Partnership. These organizations help them stay abreast of what is happening in education and their niches in particular. In addition to those resources, they stay abreast of the trends in education by reading articles from various publications.
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