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The Challenge of Casegoods: Customized, Made in USA, Budget Friendly

The Challenge of Casegoods: Customized, Made in USA, Budget Friendly

With the increase of new hotel and resort projects, as well as robust remodeling, owners and construction project managers are re-examining how they fulfill the millwork and casegood category of their building projects.

r.o.i. Design describes millwork as casegoods that are fixed to the architecture. Casegoods (typically described in the furniture category) and millwork are amortized differently on the balance sheet and quite often supplied by different sources. This area of procurement is a challenge but also an opportunity.

Aside: The debate about buying US or non-US continues, but the more foreign manufacturers merge their offering with state side distribution, the point of manufacturing is becoming less of a political, economic issue. We all need each other, globally to make our businesses work, within reason. Logistics and the chain of ownership continues to be the defining component to value and control.

r.o.i. Design can contribute to this dialogue with these observations:

  • Understanding: When the customer understands that the total cost of a product includes, freight, handling, staging and delivery-the criteria may change. The age old mantra, “you can have 2 of the 3 – 1. design, 2. price or 3. schedule” still holds true.
  • Flexibility: And when the project team is willing to look at qualified suppliers outside their list of typical vendors, value can be realized.
  • Cost Analysis: Overseas products may show up with a reduced unit price, but the cost and risk to get those products to the site, as designed and on time is not always as manageable. We see this situation being improved incrementally and by situation, but as of October 2015, we don’t make price or lead time promises on overseas product without considerable confirmation and agreement.
  • New Materials and Technology: While process and manufacturing styles for US manufacturers are consistent, their emerging ability to use new materials and technology are offering a value that competes with the “all in costs” of overseas manufactures.
  • Design-Assist: When project budgeting can take advantage of qualified suppliers, early in the process, value is realized. Sharing the designing of products with the makers of the products only makes sense to our customers.
Textured Melamine

Textured Melamine

New Materials

In the last few years, r.o.i. Design has specified “new materials” with great success.

  • Textured melamine panel products offer a huge advantage for larger projects.
  • The big names in laminate (Formica, Wilsonart, Pionite and Nevamar)  have done there homework and laminate, an affordable option, is becoming a more viable option to wood or stone in today’s designs.
  • And the combined use of solid surface veneer with laminates has created options for look and feel not available even a year ago.
  • Upholstered casegoods are a viable option. Technology and design has created a category of fabric that defies wear, responds to robust cleaning and is easily replaceable. Fabrics are merging with hard surface options.

r.o.i. Design has it roots in manufacturing for hospitality and while we only have a sample shop today, our interest, relationships and experience in casegoods and millwork continue to bring value to our customers.

We negotiate with our customers and their contractors to determine how we best can bring value to their millwork and casegood procurement.


The Mid-Scale Lodging Experience: Comfort, Connectivity, Convenience & Calm

The Mid-Scale Lodging Experience: Comfort, Connectivity, Convenience & Calm

021Guests who can afford luxury, don’t always spend luxury rates for business and social travel.

The challenge for the mid-scale lodging market is to include enough style and amenity in their experience without raising room rates. That means being smart on where to spend the money

2014 saw a new awareness by mid-scale hotels that they needed to “up the ante” in their design. Many flags took on the challenge to remodel facilities which are being showcased.

So r.o.i. Design asks, “What are the things that brought the greatest ROI in those mid-scale remodels? What are we recommending to our mid-scale customers as they remodel?” (more…)

Trust Your Designer

Trust Your Designer

trust-your-designer-t-shirt-480A few years ago, when r.o.i. Design was in the midst of a large project, the construction project manager joked with us saying, “You should create t-shirts that say Trust Your Designer and maybe folks would relax and not try to second guess recommendations”.  We all had a good chuckle, but we actually did print those t-shirts. We proudly wear our shirts, not to say we have all the answers, but that we might have some really good ones and ask to be heard.

Here are some comments from our 2014 customers that support the “Trust Your Designer” philosophy:

Customer #1

“I would have never thought to use so many colors in the office. I thought it would look kiddish or unprofessional, but it looks great and our customers love it.”

Customer #2

“We thought you guys were nuts when you asked us not to replace the carpet but seal the concrete instead.  We didn’t want a cold environment or to look like we didn’t have enough money to carpet the place. Well, we had to take back our words when we saw the final product. It looks like amazing.”

wall-stripesCustomer #3

“Stripes, not just stripes but yellow stripes! You had to convince us to let the painter paint one to show us. We were ready to kibosh the whole scheme and were second-guessing the rest of the paint colors after that. We hate to admit it, but it looks amazing! We almost had a heart attack in the process, but we have gotten so many compliments and our staff loves working in a youthful energetic place.”

Customer #4

“We really wanted a first class office and were ready to pay for it. We couldn’t believe you were telling us to spend less money. When you came to us with a budget that was 75% of what we wanted to spend, saying that it would be great, we had our doubts.  We thought for sure that the actual costs were going to end up being closer to our original number and were getting annoyed at the delay of the start of the design process. Well, we did spend more than 75% of our first budget, but not by much and the style and look of our offices actually looks like we spent more than we did. We won’t say that we will never doubt you again, but the next time, we will be more willing to listen to your pre-design ideas than we were last time.”

trust dictionaryCustomer #5

“When we hired you, we told you we just wanted consulting on finishes and that the plan was set. We didn’t want to engage in any conversation about layout since we had been through several months of space planning. We believed we had the best possible plan. I remember when you came to a meeting with some tracing paper and a Sharpie pen. You said, “We have to show you something on the plan that we believe is a mistake”. Do you remember how upset we were? But you went on to demonstrate that we had eaten up space with hallways that weren’t needed and we ended up with a 2nd conference room and a facilities office that we sorely needed. We probably have told a dozen people about our experience with r.o.i. Design. We didn’t realize all your experience in so many areas of design and how you could offer us a return on investment if we let you.”

Providing a return on investment is our goal for all our customers. We want the fees that are paid us to be returned back to them with improved performance and customer satisfaction. r.o.i. Design has been in the business of helping our customers create environments that “work” for more than 20 years. It is our passion to partner with them in creating positive change.




Designing to Create an ROI: Branding a Space

Designing to Create an ROI: Branding a Space

There is a short walk between design and marketing. They are neighbors, and like good neighbors they share with one another.

Double JJ Water Park Wild West Store Front

Double JJ Gold Rush Water Park Wild West Store Front

No one wants a trendy design that will require a remodel before the bills are paid. No one wants a corny theme, but everyone wants a look that fits them and lasts the test of time. When branding a project, r.o.i. Design makes sure to include these steps in their process.

Dooge Veneer Showroom with Natural Elements

Dooge Veneer Showroom with Natural Elements

1. First understand the people who are going to use the space. What is their relationship to the brand? Is it their space, the place they work, their favorite retail store, their place of worship or the place to weigh-in for Weight Watchers?

2. Understand the message that the owner of the space wants to convey. We often hear words like professional, comfortable, efficient, welcoming, motivational, safe and casual. We want to provide those things and more. What attribute of the business or the owner can we share that is of interest and illustrates how this space is different from other places?

Baker Holtz Lobby with Silver Dollars in Veneer Panels

Baker | Holtz Lobby with Silver Dollars in Veneer Panels

3. Be authentic. The details that extend a brand are meaningful and lasting. They can sometimes become iconic but don’t necessarily start that way.  Quite often, our customer will relate these details as “fun” without being silly.  They often are subtle or integrated in a way that is so natural that, “of course that detail would be there”. For CPA’s Baker | Holtz, who didn’t want to appear “shy” about their profession, we found little ways to make them smile and gave them landmarks in their space so they could give an interesting tour of their office.

4. Be addictive. When the recipe for a design works, the nuances of the “brand look” are happily continued by the users of the space. For a while, r.o.i. Design called themselves “Design Dogs”, happy to follow the customers lead. We saw ourselves so differently than the aloof cat-like designer stereotype that for a while we had dogs on the backs of our business cards. People started giving us dog sculptures and other dog-related stuff, on and on.

Spin Dance Offices with Tops

Spin Dance Offices with Tops 

We worked with Spin Dance in their downtown Holland office space. We tried to understand the complex service this technology group offers to their customers and we tried to understand the name. We offered to them that perhaps they could illustrate data spinning, so quickly, so precisely and to the point, like a spinning top. It stuck. We want all spaces that are important to you to be significant and tell your story. You shouldn’t have to borrow a cup of sugar from “marketing” to make it that way.

Creating A Place: Sojourn Lakeside Resort on Dixon Lake

Creating A Place: Sojourn Lakeside Resort on Dixon Lake


In 2011, we received a call from Gaylord, MI.  Scott and Janice Lampert had purchased property in their hometown and wanted to create a landmark spot on the site.

“We have been so blessed by the land, we wanted to give back to the land” , reported Lampert. “This site is so amazing in its intimate northern Michigan way that we wanted to make it available to today’s recreational and educational user.”

Very influenced by retreat centers, spas and boutique resorts they have visited, the goal was to create a resort that would compete on the highest level for aesthetics and experience. “There is definitely a spiritual side to this place,” Janice Lampert explained. “Partly because of its history and the hundreds of visitors who came to this spot since the 1950’s, but by far, it is the soul of the land and nature that lives here that gives it it’s spirit”. (more…)