Name: Lee Stapp
Company: OfficeScapes, President
Volunteer Role: EDmarket Chair of the Board
Years in the education business: 23 years
When was your company founded and how? The company started as a traditional contract furniture, equipment, and supply company on April 1, 1965. Over time there have been a few mergers and acquisitions, but we have had the same ownership and senior management team for over 25 years. We started our K-12 business 23 years ago in Colorado Springs and it is has developed into a separate, and the largest division of the company with 40 people focused on the K-12 education marketplace.
What makes your company unique? We have always looked for new opportunity and embraced challenges. We were one of the first dealers to bring in house design expertise to our market, providing space planning, a structured needs analysis, and breaking the commodity bidding paradigm that had existed in our market before. This provided schools an opportunity to look at new ways to use their spaces and help them recognize that every space could be a learning space.
What do you like best about the educational products industry? Our industry has a direct impact on the education of our kids. What we do matters. We can help educators help their students.
What are you most proud of? The culture of our company that has grown along with our education business. Our folks are truly passionate about education and we work hard every day to provide the best spaces possible to support students and educators.
How had EDmarket helped your business? Without EDmarket we would not exist in our current form. The network of people and connections we have developed through our association with EDmarket over the years have been invaluable in our growth. While we have always enjoyed the show, and certainly plan to continue to attend it under its new ownership, it is always those connections to people that have been the most beneficial to us.
I do strongly believe we can be an influential force in education through advocacy, thought leadership, and membership services.
How has the pandemic changed the educational marketplace? The pandemic has certainly created an element of short-term uncertainty in the market. Many of the lessons we are learning will impact and accelerate changes that were already starting. This pandemic has highlighted both the importance of and short falls of technology. The barriers of connectivity need to be overcome. The pandemic just pushed this into the consciousness of the country.
How has your company adapted? We were fortunate that a strong technology infrastructure that allowed us to seamlessly transition to work from home was in place. We stepped up communications with our customers and employees. Operationally we implemented a very robust safety program to make sure those who were providing on the ground services were protected.
With the sale of EDspaces, how do you see EDmarket changing? A lot! I view this as a big opportunity to reimagine the association. How we ultimately change is up to the membership. I do strongly believe we can be an influential force in education through advocacy, thought leadership, and membership services.
What are your top goals to accomplish as Chair of the Board? I want to help the membership, board, and staff work through this transition and define our culture, our mission and goals for the future.
How can the membership assist you in reaching these goals? Communication is everything. We need to know what you want from the association. We will be asking for an investment of your time and thoughtfulness. Please help us build the association you want and need.
What one piece of advice would you give others in our industry? Embrace change and invest in your own destiny. My company’s original investment in EDmarket changed our destiny. Our continued investment will help us into the future.