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Lake Michigan Credit Union

Financial/Banking Services; Grand Rapids, Michigan Workplace Issues: · Cultural Change · Flexibility/Ease of Change · Strategy Alignment · Teamwork/Collaboration Applications: · Collaboration/Team · Entire Facility Project Scope: 100 employees; 120 workstations; 50,000 square feet Herman Miller Products: · Ethospace System · Prospects System · Resolve System · Aside Chairs · Caper Chairs · Eames Aluminum Group & Soft Pad Chairs · Mirra Chairs · Eames Tables · Meridian Pedestals · Meridian Stackable Lateral Files · Meridian Storage Towers Year Completed: 2004 LMCU is an organization that lives the transparency it preaches. Those values are reflected in the glass boardroom and the open clusters of Resolve workstations. They're expressed in the Ethospace workstations that make its executives accessible to each other and to associates, and they're evident in the care taken to create an exceptionally beautiful place to work. When Sandy Jelinski took the helm as CEO five years ago, the credit union began to pursue new income streams, such as mortgage lending, and to expand into new communities. Meanwhile, it continued to maintain operating expenses that are half the industry average. This translates into growth. Extraordinary growth. From $300 million in assets five years ago, LMCU is now a $1.2 billion operation--a growth rate that averages 30 to 40 percent per year. "We are progressive in trying to do what's right for our community and our members, and that seems to work," Ms. Jelinski says. As a result of such explosive growth, LMCU began looking for a new facility to replace the traditional office building that it was quickly outgrowing. It also explored various options for its interior environment. "We did our homework," says Leo Vicari, director of facilities. When the LMCU team visited Herman Miller and saw the executive space with its high ceilings and 120-degree Ethospace and Resolve workstations, the search was over.

Leave your expectations at the door when you enter Lake Michigan Credit Union's new corporate headquarters. You won't find private offices, closed doors, or the high walls you might expect in a 70-year-old financial institution. You will find vivid colors, natural light, lovely art, and an atmosphere that encourages people to interact, to communicate, and to trust each other.

"They walked in, saw the space, and lit up," says Sharon Hallas, account representative, Work Squared, a Herman Miller dealer.

Still, uncertainty lingered. Could the credit union really make such a radical transition from a traditional environment to one so completely exposed? "I wasn't sure I could handle that much openness," recalls Ms. Jelinski. After many visits to the Design Yard and some conversation with Herman Miller CFO Beth Nickels, Ms. Jelinski became convinced that this environment would honestly reflect LMCU's culture and direction, even though she feared some members of her team might need higher walls. "Our main focus is service to our members," says Mr. Vicari. "We wanted to carry that theme into our corporate structure. We wanted our people to be comfortable, and we wanted our space to be unique." Working closely with a team from Herman Miller and Work Squared, LMCU designers refined and adapted the Design Yard concept to the credit union's space. "In fact, they one-upped us," says Scott Kline, Herman Miller account development manager. LMCU's new space is strikingly beautiful with vivid shades of maroon, red, and gold creating a warm and vibrant background to natural light filtering through windows that overlook a horse farm across the street. Its executive area is a cluster of 120-degree Ethospace workstations with glass tiles and maple veneer finishes. Employees are in Resolve workstations with custom red, blue, and beige fabric screens. A "gathering space" is equipped with booths, stools, and small tables for meals or for informal meetings. Meridian lateral files have common tops to encourage collaboration, and meeting spaces are scattered throughout the two-story facility. LCMU is also benefitting from the greater flexibility of open plan workstations as opposed to drywall offices. Resolve workstations, for example, are easy to move and easy to increase density. They combine a light, interactive atmosphere with a progressive aesthetic. LMCU's adjustment to the new space was painless, even among its most outspoken critics. The openness and beauty of the facility communicates both the transparency and the progressiveness that the organization strives to project, and LMCU people recognized that consistency. When corporate values are modeled from the top down and when change is consistent with them, even such a dramatic change can happen gracefully. "I think this is the best environment I've ever worked in," says Ms. Jelinski. "It's so open, people feel comfortable here. It just feels trustworthy. No one's hiding, and everyone's accessible. You feel good about the people you work with. "Our philosophy is to do what's right. When you do that, you have nothing to hide. It's such a simple statement, but it's a good way to live."

© 2007 Herman Miller, Inc. Zeeland, Michigan


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