"If You’ve Got the Knoll Magic, You’ll Get a Better Job."
04/11/23 Edition Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I am a former #Knoll sales rep that left shortly after the #MillerKnoll merger. After 15 years at Knoll, I was recruited away by a competitor, to somewhere I never thought I would be working - but I love my new job! I made the leap fast because it was obvious the Herman Miller people were going to be in charge, and I panicked. I have no regrets, however. 
Working at Knoll for so long, I was in a bit of an elitist bubble. Great products, cool culture, and the darling of the A&D community. I loved it. Here is an observation: I have noticed an unusual phenomenon which is that the Knoll people I used to work with and still know, seem to be able to land new jobs anywhere! And here is another observation - many of them are able to leap-frog a normal sales rep or regional job into a VP job or higher. One Knoll VP I know of became a President of a company! It’s a dealer but, none the less, a powerful dealer and there’s nothing like that “President” title. 

I loved working for Knoll, but I had no idea at the time of how the pedigree of working for such an iconic brand was transferred to the individuals who sold the product! It seems to me that even the worst person I worked with at Knoll is better than the best person at (you can fill in the name of the company here…) because everyone wants us. What gives?  

Should I be looking again to find an even better job shopping the Knoll Magic?  It’s clear there are a lot of openings today, especially in sales. The candidates from Knoll are sucking all the oxygen away from anyone else interviewing. We are really killing it. Nine times out of ten I see my former colleagues from Knoll landing the job before someone else from another company. What do you see?

Boy, am I glad I’m an Ex Knoll Employee.

Signed, XKE
Dear XKE,

Yes, you are confirming what anyone who has ever worked for Knoll has always felt: That they are better than everyone else. And guess what? Apparently, they were right! LOL.

Any recruiter will tell you. We could have one great candidate from #Steelcase and one from #MillerKnoll and one from the original Knoll. And, as expected, the clients will choose the Knoll person every day of the week.

If you are from the “Knoll side” of MillerKnoll, you command more money and a greater title in your job after Knoll than I have ever seen. If you have never had leadership experience but you are from Knoll, do not fret: Knoll people can skip over someone who has more experience.

Back to what you did when Miller acquired Knoll and what is still happening - my question is, why do people want to leave MillerKnoll? The money? I have heard the complaints that you could make more money at Knoll before the acquisition but guess what, everybody pays almost the same. It’s a story I just do not think rings true. It’s people not feeling special anymore, so they leave. Ridiculous!

When people do leave for a new job, no matter where they are from or where they are going, it is the big base salaries that are attracting the best candidates, not open-ended compensation. A candidate at a manufacturer today would rather make a higher base salary and lower commission any day of the week. If a candidate wants to make a ton of money guess where they will work….a dealer!

So, enjoy your Knoll status and hey, to answer your question, we see it: Knoll Magic! Yes, go interview again, and again and again. You want more money and you’re a former or current Knoll employee, from the original Knoll side of the business, find a new job and the pot of gold that comes with it. And then go thank your former manager who hired you at Knoll for the great new title, job, or big raise.


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