Tom Huerkamp learned from one of his early business mentors to remain cautious during booms and aggressive during downturns.
That seemingly counterintuitive approach has worked well for Huerkamp and the commercial furnishing and installation company he founded with his wife more than 40 years ago. The firm doubled business in 1982, the year Exxon announced it was pulling out of its oil shale project and triggered a bust in Western Colorado. Even in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the firm enjoyed it’s best year ever in 2009 and remains on pace to do even better in 2010.
The same approach prompted Huerkamp to rebrand the company, changing the name from Office Furniture & Design Centers to ProSpace Interiors.
“In an economic downturn, everyone is quiet and holding on to their money. So making a bold move, like a brand change, gets you twice as much as making the same changes during good times when everyone is heavily competing,” Huerkamp said. “We needed to change our name because it was long and generic. It didn’t fully address the scope of our products and services, or distinguish us in the market. Customers couldn’t remember it. Now is the perfect time to make that move.”
The name reflects the attributes of the company and its staff, Huerkamp said. “The ‘Pro’ indicates our level of experience and expertise in our field. The ‘Space’ stands for our mastery of the business working environment.”
ProSpace Interiors sells commercial office furnishings, but also offers space planning, ergonomic consultation, workspace reconfigurations and custom installation with knowledge of several industry specific platforms. The firm employs 16 full-time staff members who work throughout Western Colorado and Eastern Utah and bring to their duties a combined 150 years of experience in the industry. Over the past decade alone, the company has expanded its Delta offices, opened a Grand Junction showroom and extended its geographic service area to projects as far away as Idaho and Texas.
What hasn’t changed over the years is a business model based on three important pillars, Huerkamp said.
“First, we’re independent dealers, so we have the freedom to work with dozens of the best manufacturers. Second, we’re experts at logistics, installation and adaptation. Nothing ever goes according to Hoyle. Whether you’re reconfiguring a workspace or starting from scratch, something will need tweaking. That pillar is so important to us that we even employ a full-time custom cabinetmaker to tailor the products to our customers’ needs. Finally, we remember where we came from. We’re hard working and committed to problem solving. All of this leaves our customers with wonderful, highly efficient workspaces.”
Huerkamp attributes the continued growth of ProSpace Interiors in part to a decision made a decade ago to enter the health care market, a move that required specialized products and knowledge. Starting with individual practices and clinics, the business added to its client base hospitals throughout the region, including St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction and its recent Century Project addition. Later this year, the firm will furnish a new health care complex in Moab, Utah.
“But we didn’t just settle with health care, we have over 60 financial institutions from Durango to Steamboat, Vail to Fruita, and we have built a base of business in the oil, coal, gas, and energy resource industries,” Huerkamp added. The firm also has worked on school and library projects from Crested Butte to Rangely.
“They all have specialized needs and we see that as the spice of professional life,” Huerkamp said.
While the name is new, ProSpace Interiors remains under the same ownership and management since Huerkamp and his late wife, Mary Lou, founded the business in 1968 with $500.
Tom Huerkamp remains president while his brother, Dave Huerkamp, serves as marketing vice president. Long-time colleague Rick Saxton serves as operations vice president. Tom Huerkamp’s nephew, Matt Winter, has joined the staff. A lawyer, Winter managing human resources, technology and communications.
Through the years,Tom Huerkamp has remained active in community service. He has served as mayor of Orchard City and continues to serve on the Delta County Economic Development board of directors. Dave Huerkamp serves on the St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation board of directors. Individual and company contributions support numerous local and regional charitable organizations, among them the Delta County Ambulance District and Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado.
With a new name and a renewed focus, Tom Huerkamp expects ProSpace Interiors to continue to distinguish itself in the market. “Anyone can sell what we sell,” he said. “But it is how we do it that makes us different.”