Candace Nelson’s success in boosting sales has led to her promotion to chief sales officer and an ownership stake in Intereum, the Plymouth-based office furniture dealership.

Nelson, who came to Intereum as vice president of sales in 2016, joins CEO Bret Abbott and Jeff Erickson, president, as owners.

Abbott pushed for Nelson to become an owner based on her results in transforming sales, which have increased yearly since her hiring, according to the company.

Intereum was a customer of Nelson’s in her previous role as strategic account development manager at Herman Miller. Intereum is Minnesota’s only Herman Miller certified dealer.

As chief sales officer, Nelson leads strategic direction of several areas including sales, design, marketing, account coordination and project management.

“I couldn’t be more excited and grateful,” Nelson said. “[Abbott and Erickson] are both really smart businessmen that I have a lot of respect for.”

As an owner, Nelson said she hopes to bring a different leadership perspective to a company where a majority of the 120 office employees are women. Intereum has 190 employees total, including those working in its warehouse.

Nelson has introduced a “free address” office plan, turning Intereum’s vast showroom into a shared workspace for sales and other employees.

Nelson also has embraced the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a holistic business model that aims to help companies align goals and vision with results and growth, which Intereum began using in 2014.

Intereum offers commercial furnishings, audiovisual technology and modular walls to corporate, health care, education and government customers.

Q: How is commercial furnishing changing?

A: It used to be cubicles and private offices and it’s not that anymore. Now we’re consultative in a way to understand their business and the work that they do. Once we understand what you do we can start applying different products to support the work. Our audiovisual team is growing much faster than we anticipated. You don’t buy furniture anymore without technology completely embedded. The ancillary part of the office outside of workstations and desks is becoming more important (lounge chairs, end table, bar height tables). Customers want us to figure out how to have their employees collaborate more and work better.

Q: Why did you introduce free addressing?

A: Our salespeople, designers and project managers are in and out of the office a lot. We started gathering data and found we were only 48% occupied at any given time. The free address is in the showroom so it will be a working showroom with employees intermixed in there and showing our customers how they could use different products. The idea was to hopefully create a different buzz, to create more energy and excitement because we want our customers to feel that when they come here. From a competitive standpoint I’d like to tell the customer that we’ve tried [free address] and here’s how it went for us.

Q: What do you like about the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)?

A: It’s been critical to my success. I tend to be more of a visionary thinker so it’s hard sometimes to implement ideas without something that helps you stay accountable. I have never liked to be micromanaged. I hope to lead by example, to say I trust you, you know your job and you don’t need me to follow you throughout the day.

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is todd_nelson@mac.com.