Two Denver family-owned office furniture companies have joined forces.
Merchants Office Furniture, which is headquartered in Arapahoe Square, last week acquired the downtown-based Pear Workplace Solutions.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Merchants had revenue of $20 million last year, according to co-owner Brooke Wolf, while Pear did $25 million, according to former owner John Robbins.
Merchants is rebranding itself as Merchants & Co as part of the acquisition, and the Pear name is being sunsetted. Merchants is taking over Pear’s existing leases at 1515 Arapahoe St. in downtown Denver and at 3650 N. Nevada Ave. in Colorado Springs.
Office furniture companies, also known as dealers, often align themselves with specific manufacturers, who in turn give them improved pricing and priority distribution.
Merchants has not been aligned with a manufacturer, which Wolf said was largely so the company could remain flexible in its designs. A desire to change that was part of the reason for the deal with Pear, which is a Haworth dealer.
“We’ve had a lot of nice growth but in order for us to really scale and grow this business, that’s aligning with a manufacturer and there’s been a lot of consolidation in the market, so that has made it more pressing,” Wolf said.
Wolf said Merchants specifically wanted Haworth because it has a large portfolio and is design focused. The deal makes Merchants the only Haworth-preferred dealer in the state.
Merchants was founded by Wolf’s grandfather, Marvin Sanders, in 1940. Wolf now co-owns the business with her father Richard Sanders and siblings Jynx Messacar, Zack Sanders and Lexi McCann.
Pear was sold by husband-and-wife John and Della Robbins. They started working for Haworth in 1984 and bought its Pear in 2002. Both will stay on Merchants.
“We have culture in common, a family theme in common, we’ve known each other in the market and had a mutual respect,” Robbins said. “It’s absolutely the right fit and way to go forward in this market.”
Messacar said Merchants has been looking to expand through acquisition or aligning itself with a manufacturer for about five years, and approached Pear last June.
“They’ve [Pear] always been a class-act, kind dealer,” Messacar said. “There was an immediate feeling of trust. None of us have done this, and when you’re doing this with your family legacy you’re thinking about it through a really clear lens.”
Merchants is keeping the majority of Pear’s employees, adding an additional 29 employees to its 44.
The 5,000-square-foot former Pear space downtown, now called Merchants Park Central, will operate as a showroom. Merchant’s original 18,000-square-feet space in Arapahoe Square will be an office. The 15,000-square-feet former Pear space in Colorado Springs will be both a showroom and office space.
The deal also allows Merchants to expand its offerings, as Pear is in other furniture industries like healthcare and government. Both companies sell products nationwide, but the majority of their business comes from Colorado.
“The Pear team and areas of focus are both complementary to those of Merchants,” Zack Sanders said. “With Haworth and the expanded expertise of our company, we can help clients in a lot more ways now.”
Merchants and Pear said the acquisition comes at a key time during the changing office industry. As employers are looking for incentives to bring people back to work, furniture companies are rethinking design. For example, Messacar said Merchants had clients incorporating golf simulators into their office design.
“There’s finally some degree of momentum to return,” Messacar said. “It’s been a distressed industry for a while, and us doing this at this particular junction is really exciting. It’s a particularly creative time to be rethinking the workplace.”
The acquisition was sort of serendipitous, Wolf said, because Merchants was originally founded at 1511 Arapahoe St., on the same block as Pears LoDo showroom.
“It’s kind of full circle, a little bit of a return to home,” Wolf said.