"You Named Your Child What? MillerKnoll is Born!" - 07/23/21 Edition
Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I’ve worked for a Herman-Miller dealer for many years as a sales rep, and I just saw that the new parent company of our premier line has changed to MillerKnoll even though it seems that it’s not affecting the fact that we are still Herman Miller. As I’m scrolling through LinkedIn and my industry Groups, I’m seeing everyone seems to be commenting on the name. Negative, positive, negative, positive, negative, positive, you get the idea. I see both reactions and I get it. They’re two iconic brands, my thought was that they wanted to keep it simple. My designer clients love Knoll, I used to bootleg it all the time from a competitive Knoll dealer and of course they used to bootleg Herman-Miller from us. Let’s face it: who doesn’t love the Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman set?

I have friends and customers who seem to resent the new conglomerate’s name. To be honest with you Stephen, I can’t believe that I’m even taking the time to write a letter to you about this but it’s all that anyone can talk about this week. Like every new development in this epic merger, the industry is having to take the time to process each new change and react to the news. I love your column, you really know the industry from both sides and so, I’m just curious, what do you think of the new name.
-The Name Game

Dear Mr. Game, 

I actually had to read this letter twice because I wasn’t sure if this was a serious question or not.

Then, as I looked through my LinkedIn feed, I saw endless comments from both sides of the aisle all about this name! Some people loving the new name, others hating it. What I also noticed, is that if you worked for Herman Miller or Knoll prior to the merger, you probably did not like the name change because you liked your company name the way it was.

Frankly, I’m dumbfounded that so much time has been spent on social media talking about this. Then again, this is from someone who is perplexed by the Free Britney movement (although, I am on the side of #FreeBritney). Everyone reading this column, please take a deep breath. The deal of this merger is inked. Herman Miller acquired Knoll. Done! The name of the combined new company is very simple: MillerKnoll. Don’t we always go for unfussy, streamlined and efficient in our industry? Herman Miller and Knoll, along with their legacy brands will continue as distinct brands as a part of MillerKnoll. Some people are just not getting this.

Since you asked me for my opinion, not that it really matters, but I love the name. I think it represents what your customers, as a salesperson, will remember most. Which is “Miller” meaning Herman Miller and “Knoll.” Short and sweet. I think back when I worked at a Herman Miller dealer early in my career and everyone at the time would say, “I work at a Miller Dealer.” And they still do today. It was short and sweet, to the point, just like the new name, MillerKnoll. I’ll also add that I predict MillerKnoll may have some additional acquisitions before the end of the year, but that will be a subject for another column when and if that happens.

So again, if you work at a Herman Miller dealer, you still work at a Miller dealer and if your work at a Knoll dealer, you still work at a Knoll dealer, both still prestigious, and in my opinion both still giving you a leg-up on your competitor dealers with the AD community. Got it?

Much like the #FreeBritney movement, Andi Owen knows how to keep her brand in the news and the customers engaged. I bet this new stock will soar way  up and eventually above RH. It reminds me of when I went to name my son – I think “the name” the biggest decision of a parent’s life, naming their child. I can’t help but to think that this name change was not made in a vacuum. There’s a galaxy of incredible design brands wrapped under this new MillerKnoll moniker. All I can think about is I’m glad that they didn’t go with a name like Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Goop”.  

Walk away from your computer and get yourself in front of some customers and start selling some MillerKnoll furniture, or else the next time you write me you may be sending me your resume!

Sincerely yours,