NORTON SHORES, Michigan — Flairwood Industries, a West Michigan-based manufacturer and supplier of cabinets and carts for the education, healthcare and contract furniture markets, has been acquired by Wayne Baxter, an experienced leader in office furnishings and product marketing.
Baxter, 48, will become Flairwood’s President as well as majority owner with the completion of the purchase on March 13. He has more than 20 years of product marketing and product development background, first with Nuvar Manufacturing, followed by Attwood Corporation (subsidiary of Steelcase at the time) and finally a 16-year tenure with Herman Miller Inc.
At Herman Miller, Baxter played key roles in the product marketing of both the Aeron chair and the product launch of the Mirra chair, two of the company’s most successful products. Most recently, Baxter has been leading the development and expansion of Herman Miller’s Thrive ergonomic and technology portfolio. His team developed and launched multiple products, acquired another company, and experienced tremendous sale and margin growth.
“I’ve had an incredible run with a number of excellent companies, but I’ve long had the urge to buy and operate my own business,” Baxter said. “The opportunity to acquire Flairwood is particularly exciting since it allows me to continue living in West Michigan and to continue working in an industry I’ve grown to know well and appreciate for its rich design and problem-solving expertise.”
Flairwood is located in Norton Shores, between Muskegon and Grand Haven, and will celebrate its 40th year in business next year. The business was founded in 1976 by Greg Lonnee and Terry Hill, and Paul Remondino purchased majority shares of the business in 1988.
Despite selling their interest in Flairwood, all three of the previous owners have agreed to stay on as employees or contract consultants to Baxter.
“I’m grateful to have the invaluable experience and wisdom of Paul, Greg and Terry to draw upon as I make this transition,” said Baxter. “They’ve built an outstanding and profitable company, and I’m thrilled to be given the chance to be a steward of their legacy.”
Baxter, with his marketing and product management skills, hopes to build on the operational excellence for which Flairwood is known in order to expand the company’s reputation and sales in all of the vertical markets in which it competes.
Flairwood’s manufacturing and front office facility is 50,000-square-feet, which provides room for significant growth, Baxter said. It employs 30 people, many of them with decades of service at the company.
Baxter is joined on the ownership team by his wife Mary, along with Joel Pyper and his wife, Joy. Pyper is owner and President of Standard Lifters, a tool-and-die component company based in Grand Rapids.