UNIONTOWN, Pa. (Dec. 7, 2020)—For the seventh consecutive year, national office furnishings wholesaler COE Distributing and its President and CEO J.D. Ewing are highlighted among the Pittsburgh region’s Smart 50, an elite honor recognizing leaders of flourishing companies as identified by Smart Business Magazine.
Since 2014, the Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards recognize the top executives of the 50 smartest companies for their ability to effectively build and lead successful organizations. Smart 50 winners were honored at a virtual celebration Nov. 19 featuring a keynote address on what it takes to lead a “smart” company.
“It’s incredibly meaningful to be recognized with my team alongside so many of our region’s top companies, particularly during such a grueling year,” said Ewing. “Building a strong team has enabled our company to thrive during the most trying circumstances and reach our highest levels of success, despite the obstacles in our path.”
Businesses face few trials as staggering as the COVID-19 pandemic. For a company devoted to furnishing offices, the abrupt and prolonged closure of offices across the United States seemed especially daunting. The COE team looked at the massive shift in the economy and our world and resolved to be unstoppable in the face of change.
Ewing encouraged COE’s marketing team to pivot their thought process and promote work-from-home solutions right away. Seeing an urgent need for products to help make offices safer, COE plunged into manufacturing for the first time ever. The team envisioned and created an expansive line of acrylic screens and dividers in-house, bringing the products to market within just two months.
The foray into manufacturing enabled COE to meet initial demand and buy time to work with other manufacturing partners who could bring its vision to life most efficiently in the long term. The temporary venture paid off. COE achieved its highest revenue month in company history in August — and shattered that record in September, topping out for the first time ever at $10MM revenue.
While COE expanded its product offerings to meet emerging demand, it simultaneously expanded its already robust employee engagement programs to ensure team members stayed connected and felt supported. Not only did Ewing make good on promises not to furlough any employees or cut benefits, he increased pay for all eligible employees, hired 15 additional staff, gave employees an additional 80 hours of COVID paid time off and delivered one of COE’s highest profit-sharing payouts during the pandemic.
“If we don’t have a strong team of employees who are invested, we can’t make the shifts needed to keep the business moving forward,” Ewing said. “Keeping our team, not just employed, but highly engaged, is how we remain relevant.”
COE Distributing is a national office furnishings distributor with a passion for creating inspiring work environments. A family-owned business since 1947, COE sources high-quality office furniture with forward-thinking, well-planned design from around the globe. Our developers collaborate with skilled manufacturers to bring exclusive products to market, ensuring each piece meets unwavering quality standards. Our private label OfficeSource offers a line of furnishings and accessories always styled right, built right and priced right. Based in southwestern Pennsylvania with distribution centers in North Carolina and Texas, COE boasts an enthusiastic team dedicated to delivering the right solutions for our customers. A distinctive product development process, go-to-market strategy, supply chain capabilities and exceptional service propel us into unparalleled space in the market.
Jennifer Davis Melanie Ewing
Ideality Communications COE Distributing