When the family-owned Young Office first began offering its commercial office supply services in 1953, the term “creative workplace” hadn’t been coined yet. Now as Young Office celebrates 65 years as a commercial interiors company with showrooms in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Asheville, N.C., it has become a leader in designing progressive and functional worwkspace in the technology-driven 21st century.
The family business
The company has stayed in the family all 65 years — in fact, for four generations now with its current president, Thomas R. Young IV.
Great-grandfather Thomas R. Young Sr. bought the Calhoun Office Supply of Spartanburg in 1953, later changing the name to Young Office Supply. After serving in the Korean War, the next generation, Thomas R. Young Jr., joined Young Office.
The current CEO, Thomas R. Young III, joined the company after graduating from The Citadel in 1974. Thomas R. Young IV also joined Young Office after his Citadel graduation in 2002.
Young Office offered a variety of services to meet the needs of their clients at the time, primarily commercial office supplies. In its early days, Young Office was also a large Frigidaire company that taught people how to use modern technology of the ’50s — electric ice makers and stoves.
The next step
Now, Young Office takes pride in partnering with Steelcase, the largest commercial office furniture manufacturer in the world. Since it became a Steelcase dealer in the early ’70s, Young Office has received the Steelcase Premier Partner award since 2013, which is given to the best-performing dealers.
“It’s a team effort, and it’s a measurement across the company from quality controls, sustainability, community impact, customer experience, financial stability — everything,” Thomas R. Young IV says. “It’s a good way to run your business; it’s not an easy thing to do.”
To take furniture to the next level, Steelcase partnered with Microsoft to co-create places and devices that drive creativity in the workplace. In a real-life office, classroom, or hospital, this means ingraining the technology into the walls and furniture.
Young Office’s new showroom in Greenville, which opened this year, displays the many possibilities for a variety of workspaces.
Young Office’s Greenville showroom. Photos by Will Crooks/Upstate Business Journal
The flexible service
For Young Office, success is measured by happy customers and a wide selection of products for its diverse client base. “Whether it’s a startup company or a Fortune 500 company, a small doctor’s office or health care system, a home office or a university, we really have selections that work in all of those areas,” Young says.
The ability to evolve with current trends in design and technology is a key aspect of what makes Young Office successful. Alita Webster, director of sales, says that Young Office’s services five years ago are totally different from today’s due to ever-changing technology.
“So, we’re seeing products being embedded into furniture because it helps with that collaborative dialogue, and then also it’s got to be flexible because it’s going to be changing,” Webster says. “In two to three years, it’s going to change.”
Although technology drives the workplace, some clients still want analog options for meeting spaces for interacting and exchanging ideas in a more conservative approach. Young Office offers products that meet clients’ specific needs for their personalized workspaces.
“Everybody went to one extreme where they thought that they needed to go to totally open, but all job functions don’t adapt to that,” Webster says of office trends. “So, we’re seeing more of a blend and really talking to our customers about what the expectation is and how they want to use the space.”
An aesthetically pleasing workspace serves a purpose far greater than simply looking nice. It drives creativity, aids productivity, and helps fill jobs. “The more attractive an employer can make their space, the more attractive it is to come to work there, and they’ve got a much better chance at retaining that talent,” Young says.
The constant values
While its mission and vision changes as the company evolves, one thing remains the same — the Young Office core values. “We add value, build relationships, earn loyalty, be responsible, and act with integrity,” Young says. “Those have been the foundation of us for as long as I can remember.”
The team members of Young Office are critical to its success, and they are important for the future success of the company, Young expresses. “Our experience, our team, and the longevity of our team being together, I think, is a big advantage,” he says.
Not making the products itself but representing a lot of other companies, Young Office delivers an experience to its clients. That experience is shaped by each team member.
“It doesn’t end with us once we deliver furniture,” Webster says. “It’s that longstanding relationship after.” Staying on top of the latest and greatest products available, Young Office invests in its teams, processes, and strategies to provide its clients with comfortable, functional, and adaptable work environments.
Local Young Office clients
United Community Bank
“Young Office has been an invaluable local partner for us as we have grown in Greenville. Their team consistently exceeded our expectations as they guided us through each phase of our project, including space planning and design, project management, delivery, and installation. Their dedication to customers makes it easy to see why they are celebrating this milestone today,” says Lynn Harton, CEO of United Community Bank.
Project details: Located on 125 E. Broad St., United Community Bank worked with Young Office to achieve a more contemporary look, including a 30,000 square feet complete upfit with Steelcase furniture. Boundary screens and layered storage were added to a traditional office layout with lighter finishes and clean lines incorporated to achieve a more contemporary aesthetic. Young Office helped with sound masking, office signage, space planning, and design services.
Greenville Federal Credit Union
“We have worked with Young Office since 2007 when we built our new branch on Pelham Road. We have partnered with them ever since as we renovated member support areas as well as the full-scale branch renovations that you see today. We have been very happy with the results,” says Paul Hughes, president of Greenville Federal Credit Union.
Project details: Greenville Federal Credit Union worked with Young Office to create a warm, welcoming, and comfortable branch lobby for its members to experience. In conjunction with Steelcase, Young Office designed office functionality to match the credit union’s new service model. “Their designers and installers did a fantastic job of making our vision a reality,” Hughes says. “We feel we definitely achieved that with Young Office’s help.”
Coldwell Banker Caine
“Coldwell Banker Caine has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Young Office. As our business has grown and changed, Young Office has been a consistent partner taking us to the next level in our workspaces. Our spaces are a vital element of our culture and value proposition, and it is crucial to have a team in place who shares that vision,” says Stephen Edgerton, president and CEO of Caine Company.
Project details: Young Office helped Coldwell Banker Caine create a more collaborative space that provides versatility and customization in the workspaces it calls home. From an old warehouse building in Spartanburg to the headquarter office in Greenville built on a traditional large office setting, Young Office achieved Coldwell Banker Caine’s vision for bringing the community into the buildings through the renovations and furniture installations. “Young Office brought our vision to life and listened well to the elements that we found most important,” Edgerton says. “There is a trust between us that they will make it happen no matter what it takes.”
Young Office Timeline
- 1953 – Great-grandfather Thomas R. Young Sr. bought Calhoun Office Supply in Spartanburg and later changed the name to Young Office Supply.
- 1972 – Young Office became a Steelcase dealer.
- 1974 – Thomas R. Young III joined Young Office upon graduating from The Citadel.
- 1989 – The Greenville office was opened.
- 2002 – Thomas R. Young IV joined Young Office upon graduating from The Citadel.
- 2006 – Young Office sold the office supply division.
- 2014 – Young Office assumed Western N.C. market as a Steelcase dealer and opened the Asheville, N.C., office.
- 2018 – The company kicked off its 65th anniversary and opened a new showroom in Greenville.