Furnishing an educational endeavor

Phil Castle, The Business Times

From left, Shane Haas, president of FCI Constructors; Kim Davis, principal of Grand Mesa Middle School; and Dave Huerkamp, president of ProSpace Interiors, check out a new Rover table at the school. ProSpace donated the mobile station to the School District 51 Foundation, while FCI Constructors provided underwriting. Grand Mesa Middle School won a drawing for the table, which Davis said students will use for a variety of collaborative projects. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Dave Huerkamp remembers the old-school ways of furnishing classrooms. Straight rows of metal and wood desks weren’t particularly comfortable, he says. Or especially conducive to collaboration among students stuck to their assigned seats.

These days, schools are dynamic places in which furnishings are rearranged at a moment’s notice to accommodate a lesson or project, Huerkamp says. Furnishings also have become more innovative to serve multiple functions — a table flips up to transform into a whiteboard, for example.

As president of ProSpace Interiors — a Western Colorado furniture design, supply and installation firm — Huerkamp has observed another change. A market once driven by the lowest prices now favors design and quality. “I think that trend will continue, if not grow.”

Dave Huerkamp

Huerkamp cites as a prime example of the new products furnishing schools a table branded as the Rover. The table comes with bins for supplies and storage for six stools. The table is large enough to accommodate a group of students working on a project, but small enough to fit through standard doors. Moreover, the table comes on wheels so it can be moved from classroom to classroom.

Huerkamp was so excited about the Rover, he donated one to the School District 51 Foundation. 

To raise money for the foundation and its support of Mesa County School District 51, Huerkamp auctioned off naming rights for the Rover during a virtual auction conducted as the part of the White Iced fund-raiser. FCI Constructors was the winning bidder.

The School District 51 Foundation sent the Rover to Grand Mesa Middle School in Grand Junction, the winner of a drawing among middle schools in Mesa County School District 51.

Kim Davis, principal of Grand Mesa Middle School, expects the Rover will be popular for projects involving not only science and technology, but also other subjects. The Rover also promotes collaboration among students, which Davis says has become an increasingly important part of education.

Huerkamp says ProSpace has long supported schools in Western Colorado, and he believes there’s no responsibility more important or investment more beneficial than educating children.

Shane Haas, president of FCI Constructors, said underwriting the Rover constituted a natural fit for the company given its work on schools and efforts to encourage students to consider careers in the construction industry. The Rover will help students discover they can work with their minds and their hands, he says.

It’s also fitting, Haas says, the Rover ended up in Grand Mesa Middle School. He says he served as project manager when FCI built the school in 1997.

Angela Christensen, executive director, of the School District 51 Foundation, says she’s grateful for support from businesses like ProSpace and FCI Constructors. “It’s exciting to see our business community come together to support School District 51. We want to improve our community’s technical capabilities by ensuring that current and future generations of students have access to the types of technology they will use for years to come.”

Huerkamp says it’s important for ProSpace to keep pace with trends in the classroom because educational settings account for about a quarter of sales for the company. 

At Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, ProSpace has been involved in a series of renovation and new construction projects there for nearly a decade. That includes the renovation of Houston Hall, the Tomlinson Library and health sciences building as well as the construction of an engineering building and hotel.

ProSpace also supplies furnishings and design and installation services for offices and health care facilities in a core region of Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. ProSpace operates a showroom in downtown Grand Junction and location in Delta, employing its own space planners and designers as well as a team of installers.

While classroom furnishings were once utilitarian, they now add to creative and inspiring environment, Huerkamp says. Furnishings are often mobile so they can be arranged in different configurations.

In the end, furnishings can help improve academic performance, he says.

Huerkamp’s daughter, Rachael Huerkamp, recently graduated from CMU and now works at ProSpace as a marketing assistant. She says new furnishings at CMU made a difference. “The environment does help. It changed the way we learned.”

ProSpace Interiors operates a showroom at 634 Main St. in downtown Grand Junction. For more information, call 242-7575 or visit the website located at www.prospace.biz.