Demand adds business branch
to furniture store

Never mind building it so they will come. Sometimes they come first and ask for it to be built.

In this case the "it" is the commercial office furnishing business INspiration Hawaii Inc. built on customer demand.

INspiration opened at Pearlridge Uptown in October 1997, offering European-style home furnishings to consumers.

"Then we started bringing in home-office furnishings and then we got some requests for more office-type furniture," said Joett Colgan, marketing director for the Honolulu Design Center, owned by INspiration founder Thomas Sorensen.

The company carries two lines of office furnishings and has a track record of commercial accounts comprising 25 percent to 30 percent of its business, said Colgan. Jobs range from $1,500 for a single office to $120,000 for a larger project.

It recently "space-planned" and furnished the new facilities of Fuji Photo Film Hawaii Inc. in Waipahu's Milltown Industrial Center.

"We actually used both INspiration furniture and Hopaco and we received excellent service from both companies," said George Otsuka, Fuji treasurer and general manager.

The INspiration furnishings went in the public areas and offices of Fuji executives and managers, while Hopaco provided the modular furniture and furnishings for its production and warehouse areas.

"We spent a lot of time together going over our furniture needs and picking out the right color schemes so everything was coordinated," he said.

It wasn't difficult getting the two companies' color schemes together "because they made it easy," said Otsuka.

Among its military contracts, INspiration also recently completed a 4,000-square-foot "installation," or furnishing, of the U.S. Army's budget division at Fort Shafter.

"All our sales staff is trained to use our software program that allows them to space-plan with the two lines of desk furniture that we stock and then they're able to take the floor plans and show where the desks can be situated," Colgan said.

Not all the jobs are big, some are for small businesses for whom the residential lines of furniture fit the bill.

It's not all about homes and offices, either.

Two years ago INspiration furnished both of the two Watabe wedding chapels at Ko Olina, more extensively for one than the other.

The company expanded to Vancouver, British Columbia, last year with a 40,000-square-foot showroom and more growth is afoot for Honolulu.

In November, the company announced the purchase of the 130,000-square-foot space vacated by J.C. Penney at Pearlridge. It will lease one of the two floors to other tenants.

A year ago co-owner Peter Skaaning presided over the groundbreaking of the Honolulu Design Center at 1015 Kapiolani Blvd.

Along with other tenants, "We will have a whole division, separate from INspiration, that will concentrate on office furniture," Colgan said. It is to open in the spring of 2004.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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