When businesses need to buy office furniture they fundamentally have two directions to turn. They can either shop online/retail or go through what's known as a "commercial contract furniture dealer." Individuals and small-to-medium-sized businesses tend to buy online/retail, where they know they can find products that are far less expensive, easier to order, and arrive at "e-commerce speeds" as opposed to months later, while government, educational and large enterprise customers tend to buy through contract dealers.
So why don't all businesses buy their furniture online and save time, money and effort? The fact is that 30% of office furniture is still purchased through contract dealers, who represent very large, traditional contract furniture manufacturers such as Steelcase or Herman Miller. "Contract" is the industry lingo for highly-durable business furniture. As opposed to, say, IKEA quality—inexpensive but not designed to last.
Large enterprises are generally willing to pay more for furniture that they know for certain will last a long time rather than have to be replaced on a regular basis. In most cases contract-grade furniture costs two to three times more than you can find comparable products being sold online. The higher cost of most contract furniture is primarily due to the numerous people feeding at the trough, from the dealer itself to the manufacturers' rep, interior designers, project managers and multiple commissioned sales reps between the factory and the customer.
So how does "contract" furniture get graded as such? There's actually an entire industry infrastructure dedicated to testing these products at independent laboratories all over the world. The standards-setting organization for our industry is BIFMA, which stands for the Business + Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association. BIFMA is a not-for-profit organization funded by membership dues—both its funding and its know-how is contributed by the largest manufacturers in the industry. BIFMA is tucked under the auspices of ANSI—the American National Standards Institute. ANSI is also a not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to setting industry standards for safety, reliability and so forth.
Contract furniture manufacturers must submit their products to an independent laboratory that is specially equipped to perform product testing to ANSI/BIFMA standards. This basically means that they have a bunch of robotic lab equipment designed to cycle test desks, chairs, file cabinets, and numerous other furniture products. If you want to learn more about what this testing typically entails check out this primer on ANSI/BIFMA testing for standing desks and treadmill desks.
As a division of iMovR, with its strong online presence, many people perceive us to be like all other manufacturers who sell their products direct to the customer, and that we are not a true "commercial contract" furniture manufacturer. The fact is we are both.
While our products are dramatically less expensive than you'll find through a contract dealer we do sell to a great deal of standing desks in bulk quantities to government, corporate and educational institutions that need the assurance that our products will be as durable as we claim. And for that reason the ZipDesk, like iMovR’s Lander desks, are ANSI/BIFMA Certified.
While we know some of our online competitors claim to build their product "to ANSI/BIFMA standards," that's not the same thing as actually having them tested at an independent laboratory. For government buyers procuring office furniture through the GSA (General Services Administration) there is no workaround for having a formal certification, only a bona fide lab report will allow a purchasing agent to check that box. And these certifications must be kept current to be valid, especially if there have been any material changes to the product since its original certification.
For consumers and home office workers, independent ANSI/BIFMA X5.5-2014 Certification give them peace of mind that the product they are purchasing has been independently tested for durability and reliability, which is particularly important in an e-commerce environment where there is virtually no government or marketplace oversight on claims being made by sellers.
We publish these online so that customers can see exactly what went into testing our ultra-reliabile ZipDesk. These tests were performed at Intertek in Kentwood, MI, near Grand Rapids, in the heart of the Silicon Valley of office furniture, where the vast majority of office furniture is produced in the United States.
You may find other standing desks online that claim to be built to ANSI/BIFMA standards but many of them would fail such testing—and that's why you'll only find such industry-leading warranties on ZipDesk and iMovR standing desk products.