As students go back to school this month, many are busy catching up with classmates, adjusting to their new schedule or simply looking forward to the next big sporting event. The furniture in their classrooms or the media center is probably the least of their concerns and probably isn’t given a passing glance. However thanks to Media Technologies in Shelby, many schools, universities and libraries across the state, nation and even the world, learn and work using furniture created right in Shelby.
Media Technologies, in Shelby’s Industrial Park along the rail trail, has been unassumingly hard at work producing quality furniture for over 20 years. The business began as Silver Street, the former guitar manufacturer, owned by Craig Hardy. In 1983, Silver Street transitioned to creating only high-quality library furniture for such names as Herman Miller, American Seating and Brunswick. Then in 2000, Randy Seaver bought a share in the company from Craig. By 2015, Randy and his son, Jake, had purchased the remaining shares and renamed the business “Media Technologies.” They have been instrumental in creating beautiful, functional and long lasting furniture and helping people “take a seat” ever since. Randy and Jake, both residents of Montague, both easygoing and friendly, desire to do only their best, for the company and their customers.
A tour of the operation ensures that one will never look at school or library furniture the same again. In every corner of the original 128,000 square foot operation, sit stacks of base product awaiting the next step of transformation; from a non-descript piece of wood or laminate, to a beautiful and usable piece of furniture. During two daily shifts, approximately 96 employees keep busy cutting, banding, planing, molding, sanding, painting and assembling — most with the use of highly specialized, computer-operated machinery; getting orders ready to go to a number of locations across the country. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Randy greets every employee by name and asks how their day is going. All of the employees return the greeting with a genuine smile and continue to work as if this was any other day on the job. It is obvious they are part of a team and really enjoy what they are doing. Randy points to a pallet of finished table legs and very nonchalantly says, “This order is going to Haiti.” Haiti? One might ask, “Who in Haiti has money for new furniture?”
Manufacturing and production is really the second part of the production process. Tucked in small offices throughout the plant, research and development, sales and marketing employees are busy creating, promoting and selling the company’s many furniture lines. The finished product shows the careful attention to detail the company and its expertise has become known for. The popularity of their products has created a need for more storage. Therefore, the company began an expansion project this summer. An additional 24,000 square feet was added to the west side of Plant 2 with 11,000 square feet added to the east side.
After a tour of the facility and checking out the company website, one can begin to get a feel for the unique way Media Technologies markets its business. It’s more about getting to know customers and their needs first, then working with them to find the solution for their space and not the other way around. While the business clearly produces some of the finest furniture around, staff members don’t seem to take themselves too seriously. People, whether an employee, customer or visitor, seem to matter more than any chair, desk or bookshelf.
“In the past, school and university libraries were places where thousands of books were housed and where students went to do research in relative quiet. Within the past 20 years, “libraries” have become known as “media centers.” The new buzzword these days seems to be “information centers” where the space is less about books and being quiet, and more about a collaborative space. Where once sat tables, chairs, study carrels and computer desks, now sits tables and chairs of varying heights, stools, ottomans, reading nooks and even furniture that someone can climb into,” said Jake.
“We try to watch trends. People know we’re ‘out of the box’ and that we are capable of doing special modifications and tweaking designs to meet a specific need,” said Jake. “We like to say we’re a local company with national appeal. We have customers across the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and even Kuwait. We’ve experienced 40 percent overall growth within the last year alone.”
As if manufacturing fine furniture for libraries and schools weren’t enough, last fall the company launched “MT Contract” with the purchase of five izzy+ products from JSJ Corporation of Spring Lake. “The MT Contract brand is focused on selling through different distribution channels and into different markets such as Higher Ed, Commercial and Healthcare,” said Jake. “These markets are much bigger than K-12 Education and Public Library markets that our current Media Technologies brand supplies.”
What the community may not know about Randy and Jake is their commitment to making the world a better place.
“We believe we were put on this earth to use our gifts and talents to help bring about permanent change,” said Randy. “With that in mind, we felt drawn to Haiti and the many needs there. After consulting with Mark and Becky Sterken, missionaries with Global Access Partnership in Latin American countries, the two decided to help build a vocational education school in Haiti.
“We wanted to do a project and Mark provided us with two options. One was the Voc Ed school for orphans. That hit close to home for us as we are already in the business of supplying schools and already had a heart for orphans. We weren’t sure if we would be able to take on a project of this size, but we had faith that God would provide, and He has!” said Jake. “The school, which includes 14 rooms between two stories, opened last September. During the morning hours over 100 neighborhood elementary age children attend classes there. In the afternoons over 300 older children attend vocational education classes. Many of the children who attend live in local orphanages. Soon the facility will be used for adult education classes in the evenings. The hope is that many Haitians will be able to get off the streets, learn a trade and begin to change their country for the better. In June we sent another shipment of furniture along with clothing, toiletries and toys. Many of our employees personally contributed funds or items toward the shipment. It’s been very gratifying to work together on this.”
This community-mindedness, along with their years of experience and expertise, place them in a unique position in the market. As their website says, “From classroom to commons, office to boardroom, and every space in-between, we offer a broad range of quality furniture possibilities for all of your spaces. From dream to design to delivery and installation, we can be with our customers every step of the way.”
Media Technologies is truly one of the many hidden gems in Oceana County. With the recent expansion, many good jobs in production are available and the company welcomes individuals interested in applying. More information can be found at www.mediatechnologies.com/company/job-postings