Steelcase Turns 100

It’s Steelcase’s 100th birthday today and you cannot celebrate a birthday without the infamous jingle and cake – we didn’t. It’s kind of crazy how much a company can evolve from manufacturing a steel wastebasket. While I’ve only worked here five years, it’s been exciting to be a part of a company that’s gaining more recognition for being one of the “Top Technology Innovators”.

Steelcase Wii Bowling Competition

Each year Steelcase employees undertake the objective to raise money for United Way. It’s actually quite a fun time of the year because several (sometimes crazy) fundraisers are created in this effort. This year a few of us decided to hold a Wii Bowling Tournament and to our surprise it was a big hit! The skill levels were varied – we even had some people playing Wii for the first time ever. To make it even better, the Wii Tournament was accompanied by the sale of root beer floats.

Art Prize

This was the third year for Art Prize in Grand Rapids and like the last two years, I’m amazed at the amount of people drawn downtown.  I personally think last year presented the best art, but there were still several pieces making it worth the trip.  I particularly liked the White Birch oil painting.  It was displayed at the Bob, so it was a win-win.  ;-)

It was neat to see the exhausted people rest on the Steelcase furniture strategically placed throughout the GRAM.  I’d have to say the most bizarre piece was by Tony Orrico.  Checkout the video if you missed it here:

Rent a Desk

Working in the furniture industry I’m regularly reminded about all of the changes rapidly occurring in what we know as ‘office space’.  It’s apparent the ”Dilbert-like” offices will soon become a thing of the past.  This week I came across another article on the subject of collaborative environments and without surprise the residents were technology start-ups. I truly believe that having a fun place to work and surrounding yourself with passionate, driven people is the best thing that you can do for your company, so I always enjoy reading the success stories found in these articles. (Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, also preaches on this importance of culture in his book Delivering Happiness).

While some start-ups are attracted to this shared office model for the convenience of plug-n-play space and cheaper rent, the biggest advantage typically ends up being the collaboration between entrepreneurs.  I think that’s part of the reason the particular leasing model in the article is invitation only.  While invitation only might slow the process of filling a space, as a landlord you are much more likely to have happy longterm tenants (genius!).  

Actual article:

Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting 2011

No…I do not hold a Class A share of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A).  I could only wish, just today the stock jumped 1.14% or $1,300.  A few good GVSU IPO alumni friends and I decided to tag along this years annual trip. Already a Warren Buffet fan, I was surprised that my expectations were surpassed. After explaining their insurance underwriting loss due to earth quake damage (the biggest hit so far was Christchurch, NZ).  Buffett was of course on the hot seat for the David Sokol incedent.


Grease Monkey

When the autoshop told me that my front brakes and rotors needed to be replaced, I without much thought replied that I’d try to do it myself.  While this might not seem so crazy for some of you…the most I’ve ever done was change my oil.  Brake calipers and cotter pins were completely foreign to me.

I drove across the street to Autozone and asked for all of the tools and parts required to perform this miracle.  It was quite frustrating because every time that I’d ask, “is there anything else?” something important would pop into this guy’s head, so as you can imagine I asked this quite a few times.  To my surprise I spent $200 and left with even less confidence in my mechanical skills.  My Autozone helper even wrote his friend’s phone number on my receipt just in case I changed my mind. 

I’m not going to go into too much detail, but 5 hours later I did manage to replace my rotors and brakes.  It is embarrassing to admit it was quite a proud moment for me.  There is a indescribable satisfaction of working on a jacked up truck with the smell of grease in a garage heated only by a few work lamps.  I must give credit to tony who stopped by and filled me in on everything the youtube videos didn’t cover.   I hope you enjoyed the Oberons. 

Why it Made Sense to Cut Cable

This is not about being too busy for TV or a boastful New Year’s resolution.  I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy shows like Modern Family, The Office and almost everything on the Discovery channel.  It just did not seem appropriate that I was spending more on my cable subscription than I was for electric or gas.  No, I did not have any sports packages or costly movie subscriptions; only your basic Comcast package.

The difference between now and last year is that we don’t have to give up our favorite shows when cancelling cable/satellite.  A large part of what a standard subscription provides can be obtained through a $20 indoor antenna and a Netflix subscription. It’s crazy to me that most people do not realize that you can get equivalent HD quality though an antenna or streaming video providers.

Quickly after jumping on the Netflix bandwagon, my Comcast receiver turned into nothing but an expensive digital clock.  It’s my humble opinion that Comcast’s CEO, Brian Robert, is misleading stockholders when stating, “Video on the Internet is more of a friend than a foe” (WSJ Market, Feb 28). Let’s be real Brian, cable TV accounts for more than 50% of your revenue – can you say Blockbuster?

The last straw for my cable subscription was the purchase of my new LED TV that is embedded with wireless internet.  With only a TV and an internet connection, I can access an array of internet apps including: Hulu Plus, Amazon’s Instant Video, Netflix, and dozens of web channels.  These features will be a standard in few years, but if you’re not in need of a TV upgrade there is an array of media receivers like Apple TV and Google TV that can do the equivalent.

Unable to give up your ESPN?  No worries, you can broadcast HD ESPN for free from your XBOX360 or similar devices.  For those of you that have grown accustom to your provider’s DVR, buy a TIVO or a PC with Windows Media Center (included with Windows 7 Home Premium or greater).

I am definitely enjoying my reduced Comcast bills; however, my fear is that when media providers lose significant revenue in result of people realizing the irrelevance of their service, the cost of internet is going to sky rocket. That’s unfortunately not far away, one of my good friends said he was paying Comcast $66/month for internet alone, yikes!  When I was traveling in Australia and New Zealand I was surprised to learn that their internet subscriptions were NOT unlimited and overage fees (as we all once experienced with our cellular subscriptions) were very common.  

Okay, enough blogging, I’m in the mood for a documentary via Netflix.

Friends and Fireworks

We were able to catch the Celebration on the Grand fireworks from Eric’s River House condo. We were so close, debris landed on the balcony.

Picture Book

Since I’ve been throwing some videos up on youtube, I thought I’d share one of my favorite video projects in college. I’m sure most of you remember the popular HP commercials; with the help of Adobe and few close friends I was able to replicate it.

Exploring New Zealand’s South Island

We were lucky to see the beautiful Doubtful and Milford Sounds in the Fiordland, visit Christchurch, Queenstown, Gore and Nuggets Point. We spent most of our time hiking New Zealand’s Hollyford Track, Routeburn Track, Kepler Track and more.

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