Understanding the Industry – Interview with Ergonomic Furniture Manufacturer Ergotron

In this article series, we look at businesses who are focused in the education industry and have a compelling story to share. These companies have established themselves by helping educators, and have wisdom to offer new and existing providers that will encourage innovation and effective problem solving for the education market. 

For this post, we’re looking at ergonomic furniture manufacturer, Ergotron, with product offerings in the EDU space that includes mobile charging carts, and mobile standing desks. Teachers want solutions that provide flexibility, and variety for their students, and this topic is moving to the forefront of conversations about how to improve student outcomes.  MDR even has a report that just released about how important these considerations are in the classroom.  We’re keeping the conversation going with an interview with Ergotron’s CEO Pete Segar, as well as the Wellness Market Manager, Betsey Banker. Learn how this business got started, what keeps them going in the education industry, and how critical wellness considerations are in the classroom.

How did Ergotron get off the ground?

  • Founded by VESA FDMI standard author and visionary Harry Sweere, Ergotron has offered affordable ergonomic products to computer users for over three decades. Ergotron’s history of innovation stems from a passion for human-centered designs, creating products that can enhance computing wellness, improve workplace or classroom productivity and create business process efficiencies. In 2014, we introduced the LearnFit® Adjustable Standing Desk to transform the modern classroom into active learning environments where students are no longer forced to sit while learning. – Betsey Banker, Wellness Market Manager, CWWS, CWWPM, Ergotron

What kind of mobile charging carts are you providing and how did you get into this segment of the market?

  • Since acquiring Anthro Corporation in January 2015, Ergotron has been able to help teachers and administrators find the perfect cart, wall mount, or cabinet to fit within their classroom environment to meet the needs of devices, space and workflow. Currently, we have ten options for mobile charging carts, offering a broad selection with a universal design that fits all devices: tablets, Chromebooks, laptops and more. Our carts are powered by Ergotron PowerShuttle® technology, a patented, embedded control system that monitors incoming current from the wall outlet and distributes it to microprocessor-controlled outlets inside the charging cart to quickly, efficiently and safely.  – Betsey Banker, Wellness Market Manager, CWWS, CWWPM, Ergotron

​What advice would you give to those looking to break into the market?

  • The education market is highly desirable because it is so large and because education is valued by our communities.  However, it is a very tough market to be successful in because it is price sensitive and competitive, with many strong established players.  So, if you are seeking to get into the education market, I would advise that above all else, you need the passion to help educators and students achieve a higher standard of performance.  If you don’t have that, you will not rise above the many others that have their eyes set on the education market.  And you will not have the stamina and perseverance to earn the respect and trust of educators and administrators in thousands of school districts around the US. – Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron

What is one of the biggest challenges you face working in the education industry?

  • One of the biggest challenges we’ve come across is shifting the mindset around incorporating physical activity into the classroom among teachers and decision makers. For so long, our classrooms have been places where sedentary behavior is rewarded, and a student walking around the classroom or taking breaks from sitting at their desk is considered a sign of inattention or lack of focus. We believe that technology is a powerful tool for the classroom, but it can also increase screen time and sedentary behavior. Smarter learning results from increased low-level activity, such as standing, which engages students with their curriculum and gets them up and moving. Spaces that promote movement both energize and empower students, as well as encourage collaboration and boost engagement among classmates and educators.  – Betsey Banker, Wellness Market Manager, CWWS, CWWPM, Ergotron

Thank you to both Pete Segar and Betsey Banker for your perspective and wisdom!

What should you take away from this interview to understand the education industry?

  • Human centered design not only has a place in the workplace, but in the classroom.
  • Modern classroom devices often require a need for innovative storage and charging solutions.
  • A passion to help educators is a must for education industry success in the long haul.
  • Spaces that encourage movement are both energizing and empowering for students.

Want to learn more about how curriculum, technology, and space intertwine to affect student outcomes? Read our latest report, The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success, available now.

The State of the K-12 Market Report 2018 series is where you can find MDR’s current research and data about the education industry. The first report released in April, The K-12 Education Landscape, provides an overview of the education market. Our second report, about teacher’s access to and use of technology in the classroom, Teachers Talk Technology, was published in July. MDR’s latest report, The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success was released in late September.