In 1905 the Star Furniture Company opens in Zeeland, Michigan. Just four years later they are renamed the Michigan Star Furniture Company. Eighteen-year-old D.J. De Pree is hired as a sales clerk.
Ten years later De Pree is made president of the company. In 1923, De Pree convinces his father-in-law to purchase the majority of shares in the Michigan Star Furniture Company. As a thank-you, De Pree renames the company after his father-in-law. Michigan Star becomes the Herman Miller Furniture Company.
In 1930 De Pree and his company face hard times because of the Great Depression. Then De Pree meets New York designer Gilbert Rohde, who convinces the young president he should cease making traditional furniture and focus on products that are better suited to the rapidly changing American lifestyle. Three years later Herman Miller debuts its' Rohde-designed furniture at the Century of Progress Expo in Chicago.
In 1937 De Pree sells the Herman Miller Clock Company to his brother-in-law, who renames it the Howard Miller Clock Company.
In 1944 Rohde dies and De Pree begins looking for a new design leader. In 1945, after reading an article in in Life magazine, De Pree recruits George Nelson to be the company's first Design Director.
In 1946 the Nelson Office designs the classic "m" logo and introduces a new corporate image for Herman Miller. At New York's MOMA, a small exhibition called "New Furniture Designed by Charles Eames" becomes the museum's first one-man furniture installation. Later that year, Nelson and De Pree recruit Charles and Ray Eames to design for Herman Miller.
In 1948 another great design is released by Herman Miller: the glass-topped coffee table designed by Isamu Noguchi.
In 1950 the world's first molded fiberglass chairs are designed by the Eames' and released by Herman Miller. A year later colorist and designer Alexander Girard joins the Herman Miller family. In 1952 Girard is made leader of the new Herman Miller Textile Division.
In 1957 Herman Miller begins selling to the European market. In 1958 Robert Propst becomes a Herman Miller researcher. That same year Herman Miller begins building its Zeeland headquarters complex. George Nelson is the primary architect. A new plant opens in Venice, California and a showroom opens in San Francisco.
In 1962 Hugh De Pree, DJ's son, becomes President and CEO of Herman Miller. DJ is made Chairman of the Board. By 1966 Herman Miller has expanded to nearly 150 dealers worldwide, including Central and South America, Australia, Canada, Europe, Africa, the Near East, Scandinavia, and Japan.
In 1969 DJ steps down as Chairman of the Board and Hugh takes over. That same year Herman Miller UK forms. A year later Herman Miller Inc offers stock to the public. Throughout the 1970s, Herman Miller continues to grow, with Rapid Response becoming the industry's first quick-ship program and the Facility Management Institute in Ann Arbor opening.
The new decade of the 80s brings a new De Pree to position as Chairman and CEO; Max.
In 1981 Herman Miller's Energy Center begins burning waste to generate power - both electrical and steam - to run the company's million-square-foot main site manufacturing facility. In 1983 a special stock-ownership plan means that all Herman Miller employees are also stockholders. In 1985 Herman Miller dealerships open in Korea, Australia, and Malaysia.
George Nelson dies in 1986 and Ray Eames in 1988.
DJ De Pree dies in 1990.
In 1992 J. Kermit Campbell becomes Herman Miller's fifth Chairman and CEO, the first person to hold the post outside the Miller/De Pree family.
In 1993 Herman Miller becomes a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the only furniture manufacturer on the original roster. That same year Herman Miller begins using cherry and walnut from sustainable sources in place of endangered rosewood on the Eames lounge chair and ottoman. The company's first Environmental Conference is held.
Also in 1993, Alexander Girard dies.
In 1995 www.hermanmiller.com goes live.
By 1997 Herman Miller had been named by Fortune Magazine as one of the nation's 10 "most admired" and environmentally responsible corporations nine times.
In 2000 the Eames Molded Plywood Chair is named the "Design of the Century" by Time Magazine.
In 2004, for the 16th time in 18 years, Herman Miller is ranked as the "most admired" company in the furniture industry in Fortune Magazine's annual survey that measures the reputation of America's corporations. The magazine also ranks Herman Miller among the most innovative companies in any industry, placing them 4th overall among the nearly 600 companies surveyed. Also, for the fifth year in a row, Herman Miller ranks among Business Ethics Magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens" - one of only 29 companies to earn a place on the list every year since its introduction in 2000.
Since its start in 1905 the former Star Furniture Company has made leaps and bounds, seamlessly modernizing itself and continuing to produce classic, great design for an ever-changing market.
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