Committed to Sustainable Practices in the Seating Solutions Market

Dauphin Americas
Written by William Young

Dauphin Americas (a division of Dauphin HumanDesign Group), based out of Boonton, New Jersey, is the western wing of the Germany-based global office seating manufacturer, Dauphin HumanDesign Group. The organization was founded by designer Friedrich-Wilhelm Dauphin in 1968.

At the time, Dauphin himself was a traveling businessman who invested in what would become his family business. His first major order came in 1971: 25,000 chairs for the government of North Rhine-Westphalia. The scale of the order gave him the ability to begin growing his company, investing in new products, and bolstering its offerings of ergonomic chairs, leading to an international expansion that continues.

Today, Dauphin offers seating products in four distinct categories: office seating, tables, lounge furniture, and fixed seating. In doing so, it has become one of the world’s foremost companies of high-quality, sustainable seating solutions, which are available in several locations around the world.

Dauphin Americas President Matthew Negron underlines that the market differentiator of the company lies in its full name, Dauphin HumanDesign Group. The core values of the company are based on designs made for humans, and this aligns with the company’s actions. “Human needs and requirements consistently change, but so has Dauphin,” he explains, and following these changing needs has made the company a top choice in the market for over fifty years.

The idea of human design is specifically focused on Dauphin products supporting people, enhancing places, and embracing the culture of any company using the products. It remains important for the company to meet these expectations, and work is constantly being done to realize this value in all its innovations in office furniture.

As well as the decades of work that Dauphin has done to stay at the top of its field, even more work is being put into keeping the company and its practices ecologically responsible. The company is committed to sustainability in its materials, processes, manufacturing practices, and programs for its clients. Its actions toward environmental sustainability are directed by a mission statement that means it will provide visually appealing, affordable, well-engineered, and sustainable furniture by reducing the use of fresh raw materials, energy usage, and greenhouse gases.

In adopting these practices, Dauphin looks to educate employees and customers alike on the impact of choices like these and how working together on all fronts can accomplish these goals. Negron describes how, in 2003, the company set up an environmental management system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 14001—the European / international environmental management standard—which has been maintained and updated over the past two decades.

Furthermore, all of Dauphin’s products use recycled materials and have an associated Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), a report that communicates the potential environmental and health impacts of a specific product and ensures full transparency of materials used.

It also features a take-back program, which allows a client to ship a product back to the company so that it can properly recycle the product or repair and donate it to a local community organization. There is no length to which the company will not go to ensure it contributes to a better world for tomorrow.

Social responsibility is another important facet of the company’s identity, as it commits time, money, and attention to many worthwhile causes. Negron notes that Dauphin and its team members donate both time and money to events such as Common Thread For The Cure—a breast cancer charity focusing on patient wellbeing and financial aid, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and community food banks. The company’s Safe Reefs initiative donates two percent of its Reefs Collaborative lounge net sales to organizations working toward protecting coral reefs around the world. As well, “We have created Dauphin EcoLab, an initiative that supports sustainable efforts in our industry. We invite our community to bring discarded glass bottles to our Boonton location so that our creative production team can repurpose them, transforming them into beautiful collectibles. In exchange for their bottle contributions, we are gifting one unique Dauphin collectible piece for them to keep. Our planet is our home, and we are taking strides toward building a more sustainable future; as first steps, we are producing branded goods and promotional materials that are eco-friendly, repurposed, recycled, and/or fair trade certified. Some of our promotional materials include fair-trade certified bracelets, totes, and handbags handcrafted by our production team using repurposed upholstery.” For more on the company’s programs on sustainability and social responsibility, visit Insights (dauphin.com).

Dauphin also hosts local schools and universities at its facilities in Boonton. This year, the company introduced ‘Community Impact Days,’ which permits each employee to take two days off per year, with full pay, to volunteer their time to an organization or event of their choice. This initiative is allowing employees to give back to their local communities and donate time to a cause aligned with their values and passions without sacrificing a day’s pay.

The Community Impact Days initiative is one example of how the company takes care of its employees, generating respect. Dauphin is committed to developing and maintaining an inclusive and diverse workplace, striving to do right by its workers through its strictly upheld policies.

Through the summer of 2022, the company experimented with an idea that has taken hold in a few countries around the world: the four-day work week. From May 30—Memorial Day—to September 5, 2022—Labor Day—each employee will be working four, ten-hour days per week with three days left over as the new weekend, as opposed to the typical arrangement of five, eight-hour days and a two-day weekend.

An internal survey on the four-day work week distributed in July saw 78 percent of respondents declare their work-life balance to be improved by working on this new schedule. The experiment is still ongoing as of press time, but initial reports and expectations are positive.

Negron notes that, in the summer, most employees take flexible schedules, and the company has embraced a hybrid work environment, providing employees with the ability to put their families first. Work-life balance is important to keeping employees happy, which in turn feeds into a much more stable and high-quality workflow.

As has been the case worldwide, the coronavirus pandemic negatively affected the contract furniture market. Universities, and corporate offices—two big clients for companies like Dauphin—decreased annual purchasing in 2020 to offset costs incurred due to the conditions of the pandemic. As businesses came out of the lockdown measures, the company then had to contend with a potential recession, which has spooked many clients into a holding pattern on potential purchasing.

However, Negron is confident that the industry will rebound. Many of its corporate and university clients are in the planning stages of reconfiguring office spaces or are building new locations altogether, which has the company feeling optimistic. High-quality furniture is still needed by varied industries, and Dauphin is happy to provide it as more and more people head back to work.

Dauphin is currently investing time and resources into upgrading its technology to create a more seamless experience for clients working with it. “Technology is moving faster than it has ever moved before,” he explains, “and we want to ensure we stay up-to-date to meet and exceed the needs of the client.”

The technology integrations include a product configurator, an enterprise resource planning system to manage day-to-day operations, solutions for quick and accurate price quotes, automated order processing, and more. The company will also continue developing new products while creating and adapting to different market spaces.

“Dauphin is more than just a manufacturer,” says Negron, and “Growing into new markets will add a new twist and perspective to our operations.” According to him, Dauphin Americas is excited to continue providing its clients in the western world and across the globe with a quality customer experience for years to come.

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