Oakworks began making portable massage tables forty years ago. It diversified into stationary spa tables roughly twenty-five years ago, and a few years later, it expanded into the medical industry with radiolucent tables for imaging equipment and ultrasound tables. Today, it has four product portfolios with the fourth brand developed just last year for surgery tables.
The company serves customers in diverse markets because it understands how the human body should be positioned. “It really comes down to patient positioning. We understand how and why patients need to be positioned for each procedure. Whether that’s spa, massage, or in the medical markets, we’re the experts at that, and that’s how we branched out into the different markets,” says Jessica Wadley, vice president of sales at Oakworks Solutions.
Oakworks was founded by Jeff and Linda Riach who were, at the time, living in a commune just over the border of Pennsylvania in Maryland. The couple began woodworking and selling massage tables, but eventually decided to leave after having two daughters. The family took the fledgling business to New Freedom, Pennsylvania – where all Oakworks products are manufactured in the USA using locally sourced materials, with some sustainable, globally sourced components. “We didn’t own a car for years, did organic gardening, and cut trees from our own forest for heat. That commitment is seen in everything we do today,” says Jeff, CEO and founder.
The current management team works with a staff of one hundred employees on three core values. The first is treating everyone with the utmost respect. The second value is about using integrity and creativity to create mutually beneficial relationships, and the third value is to remember that as leaders, it serves those it leads.
These values are based on the heritage created by Jeff and Linda. The pair have high regard for the health of people and the environment. “Part of our vision is to the best of our ability, to protect our local environment and world resources,” says Jeff.
Human health and environmental health go hand in hand and are at the forefront of every decision made by Oakworks. “We ensure that all of our paints are water soluble, that all of our materials are nontoxic, and then, of course, we strive to source everything as locally as possible because that’s important,” says Wendy DeLawder, director of marketing at Oakworks Solutions. The company imports as few materials as possible and uses local suppliers to reduce emissions caused by transportation.
Oakworks is currently a leading brand for imaging tables in the market, and its ultrasound tables are also brand leaders, proving it was a great decision for Jeff and Linda to expand from massage and spa tables to the medical market.
The company holds several innovative patents since it has internally developed products for the Oakworks brand over the last forty years. “The most recent one [patent] is for a system called the ABC or ‘Adjustable Body Comfort’ system for spa tables.”
The company has been acknowledged for its work in the spa, massage, and medical fields. It is particularly proud of its local recognition as a finalist for business of the year from the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal. “We’re also a premium member of the organization Trees for the Future, and to date, we have planted over one million trees. This has completely minimized our carbon footprint as a company,” says Jessica Wadley, vice president of sales for the spa and massage brands in the United States.
In the spa industry, Oakworks has been a finalist for the title of ‘Favorite Treatment Table Manufacturer’ by American Spa Magazine, multiple years in a row. Being included on the list is particularly significant because it is voted on by the customers and not by the company’s peers.
“Oakworks creates unique products in the market by establishing what the customers need and we hear what the customers want instead of trying to produce a product and sell it to the market. We listen to the market and react, and we create very good ergonomically designed products,” says Jessica.
In the medical industry, the company recognizes that healthcare organizations, such as acute care hospitals, are required to reduce their cost by twenty percent a year due to reimbursement cuts. The company has positioned its products accordingly to help these organizations drive down costs with increasingly efficient products.
Over the last few years, Oakworks has seen growth on the medical side of the business, and it recently experienced double-digit growth in the spa division, which is an area in which it has heavily reinvested.
“The leisure and luxury industry is really thriving and booming due to global economic growth, and the spa industry has really shifted where there is a great collaboration between architects, designers, spa directors, and owners,” says Jessica. The company created an online tool called STUDIO to revolutionize spa design. This digital configurator allows the user to design their table in real time – choosing from endless colors and combinations to create their centerpiece.
This tool also provides a platform for all parties involved to collaborate to create a custom piece. “It’s all about focusing on their design and being able to design a table that matches their spa,” says Jeff. “We are working with our dealers to shift the focus. We’re not just selling the spa table; we’re selling a spa design solution. That’s where we want to take the whole industry.”
Building a multi-function treatment table is quite complex, and in the past, customers had to have a dealer or a sales representative walk them through the process. When designing STUDIO, the company wanted to create a tool that was intuitive and easy to use. “You can point and click and build on the fly, choosing from several table models, adding features, dreaming to your heart’s delight from a design standpoint,” says Jessica. STUDIO shows textures and colors with incredible accuracy. The convenient digital tool is likely to change the spa industry in a big way.
The future of the spa, massage, and medical markets has room for Oakworks to continue to grow. Its current focus is on patient positioning, and the company is excited and appreciative of new opportunities that arise. It looks to provide support by serving customer needs and developing unique solutions.